Greenpeace Africa has condemned Kenya’s ‘poison’ sugar and impoverishing industrial agriculture against small-scale farmers.
And as the ‘poison’ sugar debate continues, the government is being put to task to ensure that citizens’ lives are not put in danger by unscrupulous businessmen.
The rights organisation has joined the fray calling upon the government of Kenya to ensure that Kenyan consumers have access to safe and healthy food.
Greenpeace Africa says that the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and businesses importing food should act collectively, and with urgency, to protect millions of Kenyans from consuming foodstuff that will have detrimental effects on their health.
The organisation’s Food for life Campaigner, Claire Nasike says: “It is very shocking that food meant for human consumption contains these metals. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) copper and lead are harmful to human health. Exposure to small amounts of mercury has been shown to cause serious health problems on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys which may be fatal.”
The statement was issued in response to news that some of Kenya’s imported sugar contains dangerous elements such as copper and lead; and that fertilisers sold to farmers in Kenya are reported to be laced with harmful mercury.
Saying that the government of Kenya has to act now, Greenpeace Africa blames the occurrence on a failed food system in which government supports industrial agriculture over small-scale farmers.
“The current situation exposes that…industrial agriculture has disastrous consequences for the environment, for local farmers, consumers and the overall food system,’ Greenpeace Africa adds.
Greenpeace Africa accuses the government of side-lining small-scale farmers who produce a bulk of the food consumed by Kenyans and constitute 30% of Kenya’s farming population.
“Greenpeace Africa calls on the government of Kenya to adopt a food system where all farmers and consumers benefit from the diversity of produce grown sustainably in a safe and healthy manner.’
According to the rights organisation, sustainably grown food is guaranteed through ecological farming – a farming practice which combines indigenous knowledge, modern science and innovation with respect for nature and biodiversity.
Greenpeace Africa is calling for the support of sustainable agriculture which ensures healthy farming and healthy food.
“It protects the soil, water and the climate. It does not contaminate the environment with chemical inputs. It places farmers, consumers and producers, not corporations at its very heart.”
Kenya’s ‘poison’ sugar has been repackaged as some of the popular brands meaning that consumers have no way of telling the fake from the legit.
In recent weeks, the Kenyan sugar industry has been rocked by the crisis after Interior Minister Dr Fred Matiang’i accused barons of importing sugar unfit for human consumption.
Thousands of tonnes of Kenya’s ‘poison’ sugar has been impounded. Several people have also been questioned over the sugar but no one has been found culpable.
In late June, the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) defended manufacturers implicated in the reports over Kenya’s ‘poison’ sugar. Among the affected was West Kenya, which produces the popular Kabras Premium White Sugar and Kabras Brown Sugar.
KAM challenged the government to focus on counterfeiters and illicit trade networks that have become increasingly sophisticated and evasive, enabled by corruption and loopholes in the regulatory system.