The Thika Declaration on GMOs. Statement from the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum, 20 August, 2004
"It is not that farmers are against new technologies, so long as these technologies will not force and destroy our indigenous seed varieties, will not change our native farming systems knowledge and will not render us helpless and at the mercy of the Trans National Companies to monopolize even on what we eat."
-Mr Moses Shaha, Chairman of the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum (Kenya Times, 25 August 2004)
The Thika Declaration on GMOs
Statement from the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum 20 August, 2004
We, the Kenya Small Scale Farmers Forum leaders, representing crop farmers, pastoralists and fisherfolk, do declare today, August 20th 2004, that farming is our livelihood and not just a trade. Farming has been passed down from generation to generation, and is now threatened by Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
GMOs are a danger to food security and our indigenous gene pool. Patented GMO crops threaten farmers' ability to save and share their indigenous seeds which have stood the test of time. Thus they will reduce our seed security and food security, without the long and short term effects on our health and environment being known. GMOs will hand control of our food systems to the multinational companies, who have created these seeds for financial gain, and not for our need.
These new seeds may create conflict between farmers due to the risks of cross pollination from GMO to non GMO crops leading to contamination between farms.
GMOs will increase costs for farmers. This new kind of agriculture has been produced using a complicated and expensive process called genetic engineering. To make their profits back from the farmers, the companies patent the GMO seeds, which leads to higher costs for farmers, who are then forbidden from saving and sharing their seeds for planting the following season. If the seeds fail, farmers are left in great destitution. The agrochemicals associated with GM crops will oblige farmers to pay the high prices set by the companies, and replace the need for paid farm labour, thereby threatening our livelihoods.
GMOs threaten Kenya's environment. A clean environment is a fundamental right for all. GMOs on the contrary are contaminative, unfriendly to our biodiversity, and pose a threat to the existence of our indigenous seeds, to organic farming systems, and to human and animal health in general.
Our government is being arm-twisted to accept GMOs by multinationals, without considering the effects on small scale farmers.
Small scale farmers in Kenya should be included in policy formulation on agriculture research and food security. Government should invest in irrigation, improvement of infrastructure, appropriate technologies, marketing, subsidies, credit, farm inputs and better rangeland management, and NOT ON GMOs.
We believe that God created life, and no one can own it, not even Monsanto, Syngenta or other multinational companies. We therefore reject all GMOs in agriculture, and call upon the Kenyan government to respect our indigenous expertise. Therefore to be able to fully understand the effects of GMOs on our livelihoods, health and environment, we demand a twenty-year moratorium on GMOs in Kenya.
Then, in relation to the Biosafety Protocol being drafted in their country, the dumb-ass backward black people had this to say:
"A Biosafety Bill should provide protection to Kenyans and the environment, and ensure that the future of Kenya's agriculture and farmers is not compromised." Said Moses Shaha, chairman of Kenya Small Scale Farmers' Forum (KESSFF). "There are many possible risks from the widespread use of GMOs, and any Bill must seek to minimise the likelihood of these risks."
Eric Kisiangani of Intermediate Technology Development Group - East Africa (ITDG-EA) added, "Kenya's Biosafety Bill needs to be rigorous and should have strong safety standards to regulate any import, growth and use of GMOs. However this draft Bill seems to be more of a mechanism to facilitate and approve GMOs, rather than to regulate them."
"Neither the Kenyan people nor civil society or environmental groups have been consulted in the drafting of the Biosafety Bill." Said Oduor Ong'wen of Southern and East Africa Trade Information Network Initiative (SEATINI). "Perhaps that is why the Kenyan draft Bill does not even conform to the minimum standards recommended under the international UN Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, as shown by legal experts affiliated to the African Union."
"There are better and cheaper options than GMOs for tackling the problems faced by Kenyan farmers, which do not jeopardize Kenyan interests or endanger our people and nature." Pointed out Thari Kulissa of ECOTERRA Intl. "For example, the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), has shown how intercropping with napier grass and desmodium can protect against stemborers and weeds, increase soil fertility and provide fodder for cattle. Why do we need expensive and risky GMOs when we already have the answers?"
Zachary Makanya of Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) added, "Our organisations have come together out of concern that the Kenyan government is rushing to allow GMOs into our agriculture, without considering the damaging effects, precautionary measures on how to prevent them, or means to compensate farmers and consumers who are harmed by them. The safety of GMOs has not been proven, and we should not just assume that organisms with genes from completely different species like bacteria are safe for us to eat or plant. These new organisms must not be allowed to contaminate our seeds.
"GMO crops are patented, which means that farmers pay higher prices for seeds, and are forbidden from saving or sharing their seed for the following season. GMOs therefore have huge potential to harm Kenyan farmers' livelihoods. The Biosafety Bill must reflect these concerns and potential dangers. But the current draft fails to do so."