The British may think they 'colonized' Kenya to teach them about civilization and the modern world, but it would be the other way around today. While over 80 percent of Europeans admit they are against any GMO regardless of whether or not they can be 'proved' safe - an impossibility anyway - and some Americans on the kooky anti-science left insist they are allergic to any product that has anything to do with GM sugar beets, Kenyans are downright enlightened about food science.
What does it tell you? Patronizing elitists are not as smart as they think they are. The vaccine rate in Mississippi - dismissed as stupid religious people (i.e. Republicans) by the bizarre left - trounces the vaccination rate in of progressives in Washington state. And anti-science residents of coastal California might be politically correct and praise the 'culture' of Kenya but will quietly dismiss the idea that Kenyans are more pro-science. They would simply mutter something about George Bush and abortion and buy more organic soap.
Still, what the fringes of the anti-science debate in America get enacted into law impacts the world and so Kenyans can empathize with the reality-based community in California; because they are facing the problems labeling harmless products brings; higher prices and unnecessary panic.
The people in Kenya are not concerned about GM labels or GM food at all. Not are scientists and most politicians. A nation that has the food insecurity of Kenya wants modern science to help fix that problem. Instead, like in the US, the issue has become politicized and science has been pushed to the background.
Writing in The Star, Angwenyi Gichana quotes Cereal Millers Association chairman Diamond Lalji, who put it plainly; “We shall not sell the GM products because by labelling, we are raising questions about the safety of the products. So, as scientists, you have to decide whether GM products are safe or not. If they are not, let’s not talk about them altogether.”
And that's the crux of the issue, though proponents of the legislation here deny it. Comments on Science 2.0 regarding GM foods by proponents show they don't trust scientists and are rabidly anti-corporation. I guess they all work in communes and barter with each other since businesses are evil and they would never work at one - except Dr. Joseph Mercola's homeopathy for dogs and trial lawyers, those are apparently all ethical.
If they are so unsafe they need a label, ban them. Or require accuracy in labeling for all foods - Whole Foods should not be exempted from accuracy in labeling just because Mercola is worried the USDA and the FDA will start to look into his supplement business. Why does a package of "Mrs. Smiths" cookies need transparency but a Whole Foods gluten-free cupcake is impossible to get accurate information about - and organic shoppers are fine with that?
Joel Ochieng’ of the University of Nairobi agreed labeling should be implemented if Kenyans actually rejected GM products. “However, this is not the case from the 3,529 respondents we studied. Many policies are not informed by research and that is why we can end up with regulations that make life of a low income earner more complicated.”
So the average person in Kenya understands science better than Dr. Oz.
It will raise prices and lower choices, there is no question. GMOs are the great equalizer for people who were not lucky enough to be born in agricultural havens where food grows easily - the agricultural 1%, like we are in California. Optimizing plants can help produce good yields in bad conditions and without dangerous pesticides or herbicides. Why do rich, white people in California want to make it impossible for Africans to compete globally? Isn't is proven by now that wealth leads to education and culture? Don't we want African nations to be able to be part of the world marketplace and not need handouts from patronizing Western nations?
Belief in the organic food process is an intellectual placebo and placebos are fine, as long as they are harmless. I don't like that Mercola exploits uninformed people with too much money but it is harmless - until he starts promoting nonsense like that GMOs cause autism, then he is a danger.
When it comes to being pro-science, at least Americans are better off then Europe - unless Prop 37 is passed, because California will have a standard twice as anti-science as what Europeans have. But, really, the Kenyans shouldn't be making us look bad when it comes to biology awareness.
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