GMO: 2011 Video Forces Raila To Change Goalposts

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader promised to support President William Ruto as long as they...

GMO: 2011 Video Forces Raila To Change Goalposts
Raila Odinga speaking during the opening of the Kigoto Maize Milling Plant in Homabay on November 4, 2022. /RAILA ODINGA

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has been forced to clarify statements he made in 2011 regarding the government importing genetically modified crops (GMOs), noting that his decision was influenced by limited information then.

Viral Tea obtained a KBC news report of the Azimio la Umoja principal's address to Parliament on August 3, 2011, in his capacity as Prime Minister, where he defended the GMO maize by saying even Parliament had passed the Bio Safety bill.

He noted that even though the said food was injurious to human health, advanced economies like America would not have allowed its citizens to partake of it.

"Embrace science and remember, Mr Speaker, that science is moving on. Conservatism will kill innovation.

"The countries I've mentioned here are fairly civilised and advanced countries. They'll not allow their own population to consume GMO food if it is harmful," he said at the time.

However, he stated on Monday, November 21 that new scientific information as well as evolution and research had uncovered the negative side of GMO crops. He added that his stance on GMOs changed with the change in times.

"More than ten years later, new information has emerged, most of it against GMOs, as scientific scrutiny on has intensified, leading to his change of mind," Raila's Communication Director, Dennis Onyango, responded to the video. 

"As science has evolved over the last decade, so has Mr Odinga’s thinking on GMOs. Mr Odinga’s current position on GMOs is therefore not a case of double speak but a result of the willingness to learn, unlearn and relearn, the essence of literacy in the 21st century."

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party leader promised to support President William Ruto as long as they presented new scientific research guaranteeing the safety of GMO products.

Raila was responding to Trade Cabinet Secretary (CS) Moses Kuria's remarks on GMOs and a revelation by the CS that Cabinet had deliberately made a decision to allow imports, which sparked condemnation across the country.

"We have so many things that can kill us in the country. Being in this country, you are a candidate for death. 

"And because so many things compete for death, there is nothing wrong with adding GMOs to that list. That is why we have deliberately allowed GMO until we are satisfied that we have enough maize, the staple food," Kuria stated on Thursday, November 17.

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops joined Raila in demanding that CS Kuria apologise for his remarks on GMOs.

However, the Atheists in Kenya Society (AIKS) was in support of his announcement that he allowed the importation of GMO maize in the country.

Trade CS Moses Kuria speaking at Strathmore University on November 17, 2022. /TWITTER.INDUSTRYKE