A recent discussion on the ethics of food in Kenya, laid bare the increasing use of toxic chemical pesticides and their impacts on human and environmental health, eliciting strong reactions across all arguments.
Drawn from Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya, Kenya Organic Agriculture Network, Resources Oriented Development Initiatives and Route to Food Initiative with support from Kenyan researchers, the scientists were forthright in their submissions. They were hosted by iCafe.
Victor Shikuku, a lecturer at the Kaimosi Friends University College in western Kenya said; “This subject should concern all of us since we all eat food and therefore safety should concern us all.”
Outright ban and alternatives
“The government, leaders, policy makers and regulators have a mandate to protect citizens and therefore should not shy away from passing stringent laws and regulations that are good for their wellbeing. We have nothing to lose by banning some of these chemicals. There are alternatives to creating safe food and a safe environment.”
Shikuku is a member of a task force that presented their findings in Scientific Report on Pesticides in the Kenyan Market, which they presented to the Pest Control Products Board for review and recommended actions to be taken to protect human and environmental health from pesticides.
Of immediate concern is the ban on 13 chemicals used in pesticides sprayed on fruits and vegetables and are deemed to be highly toxic, known to be carcinogenic and affect the nervous and reproduction systems.
Woman Representative for Uasin Gishu County Gladys Shollei has tabled a bill before parliament to have more than 200 pesticides chemicals taken off Kenyan shelves. Many of these are banned in Europe and the US.
Those opposed to the ban say Kenya stands to lose Ksh150 billion ($1.5 billion).