Opposition Chief Raila Odinga’s latest opposition to Genetically Modified food is a dramatic climb down from his past strongly-held views on GMOs.

Raila, who on Sunday, vowed to lead a powerful campaign against the government’s plans to import GMO maize, had in 2011 backed genetically modified foods.

Serving as Prime Minister under President Mwai Kibaki’s administration, Raila had described those who were opposed to genetically modified food as “conservative purveyors of alarm”.

“Conservatism will kill innovation,” Raila said in his response to a spirited push by then Naivasha MP John Mututho to discredit GMOs.

Raila said Mututho had relied on discredited expertise about genetically modified foods to sow alarm and asked him to “listen to other authorities other than his own”.

Raila accused Mututho, who had warned against GMOs, of being hostage to “a narrow understanding of genetic modification of crops.”

Saying the World Health Organisation (WHO) had certified the safety of GMO foods, Raila had asked Kenyans to embrace technology.

Raila said then that the GMO food would be imported because there was an international shortage of ordinary maize subject to the condition that it would be ground into flour and packed in marked bags.

“Developed nations like the US, Canada, Argentina and many countries in the European Union which have stringent safety and testing standards have embraced genetic engineering of food crops to improve food yields and develop pest resistant crop varieties,” Raila said then.

However, in a dramatic about-turn, Raila on Sunday condemned the government’s plans to import some 10 millions bags of GMO maize into the country saying that will“expose Kenyans to health risks”.

“The UDA regime will subject Kenyans to unproven and dangerous foods in an attempt to please international interests that do not care about our safety,” Raila warned.

“GMOs can cause harm to human and animal life and to the entire national ecosystems. They can dramatically reduce or eliminate plant diversity.”

Raila said on Sunday that as a “as a party, we believe the matter of GMO foods in our country is too serious to be reduced to a cruel and juvenile joke.”

He said officials who lack scientific literacy on such serious matters must never use their office to demean the Kenyan people as “though we are a helpless, enslaved lot”.

The ban on GMO imports was enforced in 2012 following a presidential decree by then President Mwai Kibaki after recommendations by the then Minister for Public Health Beth Mugo.

Mugo had cited a study by a French University that linked cancer in rats to the consumption of genetically modified foods.

However, President William Ruto’s administration has lifted the ban on importation of GMOs into the country.

The Cabinet recently made a resolution to allow GMO imports as a way of fighting hunger occasioned by the ravaging drought.

Sourced from the star

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