“Distasteful, disrespectful”, Archbishop in Kenya Faults State Official’s Remarks on GMO

Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Kenya's Nyeri Archdiocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A Catholic Archbishop in Kenya has termed as “distasteful and disrespectful to Kenyans” the remarks, which the country’s Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Trade and Industrialization made on the legalization of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) foods.

On November 17, CS Moses Kuria admitted that GMOs foods can lead to loss of life.

We have so many things that can kill us in the country. Being in this country you are a candidate for death and because there are many things competing for death in this country, there is nothing wrong with adding GMOs to that list,” Mr. Kuria said.

He added, “That is why we have deliberately decided to allow GMOs in this country until we are satisfied that we have enough maize, the staple food.” 

The Kenyan CS who was addressing traders further said, “In view of the food situation in the country, I shall be signing instruments to allow duty-free imports of GMO and non-GMO maize for the next six months."


"It is our responsibility as the government. I know this will offend some people, but even if we lose some votes here and there, we shall see the kingdom of heaven," he said during the November 17 event.


Addressing members of the press on Monday, November 21, Archbishop Anthony Muheria said Kenyans deserve an apology from the CS for Trade and Industrialization.

“It was distasteful, and disrespectful to Kenyans to joke about life and death and even if it is an issue which could be taken as a joke,” Archbishop Muheria said.

The Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri added, “It is wrong to bring about statements whereby we trivialize death, trivialize suffering, trivialize insecurity.”

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“It is not good to joke with death or to gamble with the life of Kenyans as if it was Russian roulette,” the Kenyan Catholic Archbishop said, adding, “We feel irrespective of the matter in consideration, would request honestly that Kenyans deserve respect and not spite. In this matter, they do deserve an apology

In October, Kenya lifted the 10-year ban that had been placed on the cultivation and importation of genetically modified crops, a decision that has generated debate among citizens of the East African nation. 

“In view of the food situation in the country, I shall be signing instruments to allow duty free imports of GMO and non-GMO Maize for the next six months,” CS Kuria said during the November 17 event. 

In his address to journalists November 21, Archbishop Muheria said the GMO topic “is a serious matter that deserves discussion, deep, sober engagement.”

“It is not a decision for us to just embrace wholesome and completely without any reservation, nor a situation where we want to reject the use or even to address the need that could be for a specific time,” he said.


The Local Ordinary of Nyeri Diocese who doubles as the Chairman of the Commission for Social Communication of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) underscored the need to involve various stakeholders in deliberating about GMOs, saying, “It is a matter of discussion, engagement and respectful, strategic engagement.”

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.