Raila challenges lifting of the GMO ban in court

Friday, October 14th, 2022 05:20 | By
ODM Leader Raila Odinga. PHOTO/(@RailaOdinga)Facebook

Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya Alliance leader Raila Odinga yesterday made good his threat to go to court over the lifting of the ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Raila’s lawyer Paul Mwangi moved to court yesterday to challenge the lifting of the ban arguing that it is a threat to fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights and that if the same is not quashed it shall result in the derogation of his rights and freedoms and of all other people in Kenya.

The ban was lifted on October 3, 2022, through a Cabinet Resolution thereby removing a prohibition that had been put in place on 8 November 2012 by a resolution of The Cabinet of the Republic of Kenya following concerns regarding the use of genetically modified foods.

Mwangi in court documents argued that the lifting of the ban derogates the right of the people of Kenya to fair administrative action. 

“The same is unlawful and procedurally unfair for the failure of the Cabinet to conduct public participation before removal of all regulatory protocols governing the introduction and use of genetically modified seeds and crops,” he argues in court documents.

The lawyer argues that the 2012 Cabinet prohibition on genetically modified organisms did not close the door to the use of biotechnology in Kenya but rather closed the door to the introduction of foods that are untested by local regulatory agencies.

He further argues that the 2022 Cabinet approval of the cultivation, importation and sale of genetically modified foods in Kenya did not lift a ban on genetically modified organisms in Kenya as none actually existed but instead removed all regulatory barriers that had been established over the last ten years for the protection of the people of Kenya.

Biotechnology research

He contends that Kenya has achieved great developments in its own biotechnology research that has seen the development of food crops that mature in record periods with double productivity. 

“The hasty removal of all regulatory protocols in the cultivation and trade in genetically modified foods in Kenya is, therefore, neither rational nor reasonable,” he argues in court documents.

It is his case that there is a threat to the rights and freedoms of the people of Kenya posed by the imminent introduction into Kenya of crops developed using Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURT). “The introduction and utilization of Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURT) in Kenya will make the country a food colony of foreign countries and multi-national companies and derogate the sovereignty of the people,” he argues.

Traditional knowledge

He further argues that the lifting of the ban derogates the rights of peasants and persons working in rural areas as guaranteed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. “It derogates the rights of peasants and people working in rural areas of access to adequate food that is produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods that respect their culture and preserving access to food for future generations as guaranteed by Article 15 of the said Declaration,” he argues.

He argues that the people working in rural areas require protection of their traditional knowledge relevant to plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and their right to maintain, control, protect and develop their own seeds and other propagating material.

He further contends that the Cabinet decision of 2022 derogates the rights of Kenyan citizens to receive information regarding each and every genetically modified seed and food that will be introduced in Kenya that is necessary for the people to exercise or protect.

He wants the court to declare that the decision to lift the ban on the cultivation within and importation into Kenya of foods and animal feeds that are produced from genetically modified seeds is unconstitutional.

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