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Fact checking Raila’s claim on Ruto’s imported ‘GMO maize’

The leader of the Orange Democratic Movement, Raila Odinga, at the weekend repeated a claim that the 4 million bags of maize imported into Kenya by President William Ruto were all genetically modified.

The first white maize ship docked at Mombasa port on 17 April, carrying 48,000 tonnes.

Speaking in Kilifi County, the opposition leader claimed that the imported maize would deform the private parts of human consumers as he lashed out at President Ruto.

“This man brought maize into the country from outside. The maize he brought is GMO (genetically modified). If you eat that GMO, for women, they will have problems. For men, some of them will grow breasts. For women, their private parts will become like men’s,” Raila Odinga told a gathered crowd.

His comments came days after he and Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka were caught on a microphone claiming that President Ruto had imported genetically modified maize at the end of their press conference last week.

So does GM food cause physical deformities?

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, genetically modified foods are crops in which genes from the same or an unrelated organism have been inserted using genetic engineering techniques. These genes confer beneficial traits such as resistance to pests, the ability to grow under extreme and unfavourable conditions’ and increased levels of nutrients.

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According to the FAO, the benefits of GM foods outweigh the risks. Among the risks they identified were an increase in allergens, toxicity and a change in nutrient composition.

The United States National Library of Medicine published that one of the disadvantages of eating genetically modified foods is that these foods can cause the development of diseases that are immune to antibiotics.

No scientific studies or results show that genetically modified foods can deform the human body.

Kenyans will find out this month whether the High Court of Kenya will constitute a bench to hear a petition challenging President Ruto’s importation and distribution of GM foods.

The High Court previously suspended the importation of GM foods after the Kenya Peasants League filed its petition following President Ruto’s lifting of the GM ban.

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