Governor Natembeya calls for inclusive discourse on GMO

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By Saka Richard

Trans Nzoia Governor George Natembeya wants the national government to hold a national discourse on the issue of allowing the importation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) instead of forcing it on Kenyans.

Governor Natembeya said it was wrong for the government to reach a decision of lifting the GMO ban without getting the views of all stakeholders to ensure all the health and commercial concerns are put into consideration.

“There are several organs like parliament and the council of governors that were not given an opportunity to voice their concerns when the government was coming up with this initiative,” Governor Natembeya spoke in Kitale.

He observed that the government should be cautious in seeking a short cut to high food prices which may end up having grievous harm on the country in terms of health complications that may result from consuming the GMO food.

”Developed countries have a clear policy that sees all GMO products labeled which gives consumers the right of choice. The Kenyan case can be so chaotic since it seems the business concern is overriding the health one,” said the county boss.

The Governor said it is so unfair that Governors who are in charge of implementing most policies of Agriculture through devolution are left out when they are being formulated yet they are expected to execute them.

“I am of the opinion that the government should focus more on empowering farmers by subsidizing the cost of farm inputs and supporting the Kenya Seed Company since it has the best technology for seed production,” he said.

The High Court temporarily suspended the government’s plan to allow importation and distribution of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) pending determination of a lawsuit against the lifting of the ban.

He said his government is committed to boosting maize production in the county’s bread basket which has been diminishing output occasioned soil acidity resulting from the overuse of Diammonium Fertilizer (DAP).

“Maize production was initially at 40 bags per acre but this has reduced to about 16 bags per acre. We want to put in place measures that will see production restored to high levels to guarantee more returns for farmers,” said Natembeya.

The governor also said his government is in the process of rehabilitating all dams in the region in a bid to boost irrigation that will ensure the farming is not hampered by cases of long drought occasioned by climate change.

“We are also going to embark on an ambitious indigenous tree planting exercise on all public lands in this county to ensure we improve our forest cover so that we mitigate the effects of climate change,” he said.

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