Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto announced August 12 that the Kenyan government will soon lift a ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to create an enabling environment for the growth of biotechnology innovation and industries in Kenya.
GMO is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. The Kenyan government banned GMOs since 2012 following the release of a study found that GMO maize caused cancer in rats.
The subject of GMOs is surrounded by controversy with international advocacy groups such as Organic Consumers Association, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Greenpeace claiming that GMOs risks have not been adequately identified.
Reactions on Twitter varied sharply following Ruto's announcement.
Anti: ‘GMOs are a sin against humanity’
Padie Mwangi claims that Kenya's elite will save itself while the rest of the population is lumbered with GMOs.
Politicians like RUTO will tell u 2 to eat GMOs while their Families eat indigenous crops from their organic farms. http://t.co/HVI9uIMdwC
— Padie (@Padiemwangi) August 13, 2015
Are we cleverer than bees and flies?
Imagine neither Bees nor Flies land on #GMOs and we think we are clever than they @ConsumersKenya @C_NyakundiH
— Vincent Mocha (@ItsMakori) August 13, 2015
HeinrichBöllStiftung in Nairobi, Kenya noted that genetically modified seeds’ prices keep soaring:
GM seed prices are protected by patents and their prices have soared over the last 20 years. #Foodsovereignity #stopGMOsKenya @ayicckenya
— HeinrichBöllStiftung (@HBSNairobi) August 13, 2015
Youth Without Future said:
Not ALL Technology is GOOD: @Williamsruto is like always, not concerned with public good. Why cancer everywhere? Diabetes? HBP?….GMOs
— youth without future (@YWFkenya) August 13, 2015
COFEK, KENYA advised the government on how to best help Kenyan farmers without the use of GMOs:
Stop corruption. Offer incentives to Kenya's resilient farmers. Open up the domestic/foreign markets #StopGMOsKenya https://t.co/SeChU1X3hN
— COFEK, KENYA (@ConsumersKenya) August 13, 2015
S.W. Maina warned:
Once you OK GMOs, you open loopholes for abuse that you can't close, Bwana @WilliamsRuto. Don't do it. https://t.co/5oMmCif8bj
— #WorldElephantDay (@swmaina) August 13, 2015
Is labeling GM products for consumers a solution?:
@imBarasa @PatrikJnr the problem in most countries has been labeling of GMOs. Not sure with our level of corruption and negligence
— #Kenya #Online (@irenesconcierge) August 13, 2015
Truther Botred described GMOs as a “sin against humanity”:
GMOs are a sin against humanity because we're not short on food on this planet.
— trutherbotred (@trutherbotred) August 12, 2015
Following Deputy President Ruto’s now infamous opposition to homosexuality in Kenya, Dennis Maina said:
Dear @WilliamsRuto GMOs are more harmful to the entire society than gayism please #StopGMOsKenya @C_NyaKundiH @ConsumersKenya
— Dennis maina (@Dennismaina4) August 13, 2015
Billow Ismail Jr. is worried that the Kenyan health system will not be able to handle GMO-related health risks:
@jafferisaak Our health care system is already crashing and they want to flood the market with GMO food..#StopGMOsKenya
— Billow Ismail Jr. (@billow_jr) August 13, 2015
The Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) reminded Ruto about the claims that GMOs have led Indian farmers to commit suicide:
#SomeoneTellRuto In India hundreds of farmers have committed SUICIDE over GMOs #StopGMOsKenya https://t.co/iuuqb0oHl1
— COFEK, KENYA (@ConsumersKenya) August 12, 2015
Alien Axioms maintained that GMOs will not solve Kenya’s food shortages:
GMOs do not increase yields, and work against feeding a hungry world. Don't fall for @MonsantoCo propaganda.
— Alien Axioms (@AlienAxioms) August 12, 2015
While Olive Njeri called for focus on organic farming:
#SomeoneTellRuto: #StopGMOsKenya KENYA STANDS A BETTER CHANCE AT IMPROVING FOOD SECURITY BY EMBRACING ORGANIC FARMING http://t.co/UdEWNc1Oqf
— olive (@aulyvnjeri) August 12, 2015
Pro: ‘Every technology is always opposed in the beginning’
Responding to arguments opposing the move by @KiamaKaara and @ConsumersKenya, Mwangi Wambui remarked:
@KiamaKaara @ConsumersKenya You can't just tell pple to #stopgmoskenya w/out giving them an alternative. #gmos #Gmo
— Mwangi Wambui (@hadasnoop) August 13, 2015
Supporting the lifting of the ban, Mesha Kenya tweeted:
#SomeoneTellRuto #StopGMOsKenya – Kenyan farmers are eager to plant the GM seeds @aghandan
— Mesha Kenya (@MeshaKenya) August 13, 2015
David Muthini asked the opponents of GMOs the following question:
@consumerskenya @gmwatch #StopGMOsKenya is backward and ignorant. Tell me the danger of GMO cotton for example…
— Davis Muthini (@DavisMuthini) August 13, 2015
Ben Makenzie pointed out:
#GMOs are not substantially different from their non-GMO counterparts in regard to nutrition or taste. William Ruto should support them.
— Ben (@Ben_Makenzie) August 13, 2015
TechGuideKE explained why Kenyan farmers need GMOs:
Many farmers rely on rain fed agriculture and therefore planting drought resistant crops would be best. This is made possible through #GMOs
— ConsumerTechGuide (@TechGuideKE) August 13, 2015
“Whats the fuss about GMOs?” asked Junior Mwanza:
Whats the fuss about GMOs? we practically eat that stuff every day i mean, with the make up, bleaching and other scientific stuff ladies use
— Junior Mwanza (@Jr_2M) August 13, 2015
Dorothy Akolo castigated those opposed to the ban saying:
@kbcchannel1 @calestous @jkioria Those opposed to #GMOs want a hungry #Africa so they can look “philanthropic” dumping commodities in Africa
— Judith Dora Akolo (@JudithAkolo) August 13, 2015
Team Korir compared the opposition to GMOs to that of other useful technologies in the past:
Every technology is always opposed in the beginning. Electricity had its opponents even if it was to benefit the people #TalkGMOFacts #GMOs
— TeamKorir (@tkorir) August 13, 2015
GMO will destroy local sustainable food production and cause collapse of economically viable domestic food sufficiency. This is the purpose of it. It is a cruel fraud perpetrated by corporate cash and corrupt or corruptible local officials.