Dietary insults and the checkmate of COP27’s negotiations: Rinsing nutritional genomics vis- à-vis the impacts of pollution on the Kenyan foods

The father of medicine, Hippocrates, advised against using medicines when a person could be healed by nutrition.[1] This implies that eating a healthy diet is crucial for maintaining good health and disease prevention. No wonder the modern adage says that an apple a day, keeps the doctor away. Put in another way, ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’.[2] By considering food as medicine, it means that there is a required food quality and quantity that a person ought to take to harvest the optimum health benefits therefrom. This has been confirmed by the scientific studies today, as we shall see later, that there is a recommended amount of each macro and micronutrient needed daily by the body for optimal genetic expressions. This means that an inadequate and imbalanced diet endangers our genetic expression.

Sadly, today’s pollution crisis stages a great threat to many Kenyans who cannot obtain a balanced diet due to drought hence the severe hunger. This has resulted in many cases of malnutrition. Some can manage to buy some food, yet they are not safe. This is because air pollution affects not only the quantity of food but the quality of the yield as well. For example, the poisonous pesticides sprayed on fruits and vegetables, end up altering the chemical components of the food where it is used, hence altering the consumer’s genetic expression. This paper will present the status quo of the hunger crisis resulting from pollution. It will then delve into how some of the macro and micronutrients affect our genetic expression, the health implications of this phenomenon of hunger and malnutrition to the Kenyans through nutritional genomics, conceptualise negotiation, see why COP’s negotiations have failed to control global pollution and thereby make some recommendations before the conclusion.

  1. Dietary insults

Many Kenyans are staring at severe food insecurity today as a result of higher temperatures that have caused drought in several areas.[3] The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, echoes these sentiments by asserting that the climate crisis is undermining people’s health through toxic air pollution, diminishing food security, higher risks of infectious disease outbreaks, extreme heat, drought, floods and more.[4] Mithika Mwenda, the executive director of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance adds that the prolonged drought has effaced crops, extinguished livestock and decimated livelihoods in Africa.[5] John Njuguna, a farmer in Nyandagwa County, mourns that, ‘we used to harvest between 18 and 25 bags of maize from an acre piece of land. The same piece would yield between 18 and 20 bags of wheat. These days you cannot get two bags of maize because there is no enough rain’.[6] This means that several people are experiencing malnutrition. As such:

‘Our seasons have dramatically changed and food security is no longer a guarantee in our country. Farmers who previously depended on one season of harvest to feed their families and have some produce left over for sale now have two or more planting seasons in a bid to put food on the table. The end result of this is that one million children under the age of five in Kenya are malnourished; an additional 134, 000 others will be born to women who are malnourished in pregnancy. We haven’t talked about the rest of the population in the affected counties’.[7]

Many have already died due to drought and hunger. For example, the nursing mother Emily Sote Chebon collapsed and died, leaving behind a three-week-old child, after walking a long distance in search of water from a borehole.[8] It is painful to note that ‘her last meal [is] believed to have been porridge eaten the day before her death’.[9] According to Oxfam, the worsening drought in East Africa is likely to kill one person every 36 seconds until the end of the year.[10]

For the first time in decades, drought in Kenya has annihilated more elephants than poaching.[11] There is no water for them to drink as they converge around the dry ponds in the park, nor is there herbage to feed on due to the extreme drought experienced, resulting from climate change.[12] There has been no rain over four consecutive seasons in the past two years in several parts of Kenya. According to the Kenya Wildlife Service and other bodies, there is a confirmed record of 512 wildebeests, 381 common zebras, 205 elephants, 51 buffaloes, 49 Grevy’s zebras and 12 giraffes that have died just in the past nine months.[13]

On the other hand, the little food available is not all safe. The Pesticide Atlas Kenya Edition shows that 44% of the total volume of pesticides used in Kenya are banned in Europe, where they are exported from.[14] Ecotoxicologist Dr Silk Bollmohr notes that 195 products, or more than 76% of the total volume of pesticides sold in Kenya, contain one or more active ingredients that are classified as highly hazardous pesticides, which are known to pose a significant acute or long-term risk to human health or the environment.[15] This means that Kenyans are consuming toxic food products and this is not good news. Absurdly, pesticide imports into Kenya increased from 6,400 tonnes in 2015 to 15,600 tonnes in 2018—a more than doubling of that amount in only three years. Kenya has registered 230 active chemicals, 51 of which are no longer authorized in the EU, including atrazine (Syngenta), trichlorfon (Bayer), and fipronil (BASF).[16] This will affect and still does, the health of the Kenyans and the environment at large.

Research shows that genetic and environmental factors contribute to several types of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome (MetS), and Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D).[17] According to the Kenyan National Cancer Taskforce Report of 2022, environmental factors such as exposure to chemicals, air pollution, and asbestos are among the cancer risk factors.[18] Moreover, in Kenya as well as the rest of the world, cancer is the second-leading cause of NCD mortality, right after cardiovascular illnesses. The annual incidence of cancer was estimated by Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN) to be 47,887 cases in 2018 and 42,116 cases in 2020.[19] The quality and quantity of the food that we consume plus the environmental factors affect our histone modifications and DNA methylation both of which affect gene expression and chromatin organization[20], thus resulting in health issues aforementioned. These shall be discussed in detail under nutritional genomics, precisely in relation to epigenetics, epigenomics, and transcriptomics.

This being the case, we shall now explore how malnutrition resulting from pollution drought and hunger affects the genetic expression of Kenyans. The genetic impacts of the foods consumed that are poisoned through unfriendly pesticides aforementioned shall also be discussed in the realm of nutritional genomics. As such, we shall understand nutritional genomics, evaluate how food quantity and quality are related to genetic expression’s turning on and off, and fathom therefore the huge genetic hazard being posed to the Kenyans as a result of the current hunger, polluted foods, and the environment at large.

  1. Endangered genetic expressions
  2. Conceptualizing nutritional genomics

Nutritional genomics is the study of how the foods we eat affect the expression of our genetic information and how our genetic composition affects the metabolism and response to nutrients and other bioactive components in food.[21] Thus the science of nutrigenomics examines how genetic variants affect the organic environment and how food and food components affect gene expression.[22] To comprehend fully nutrigenomics, it is important to also grasp the concept of epigenetics. Nutritional epigenetics aim to comprehend how dietary molecules interact with the chemicals that control gene expression in the body to influence long-term health.[23] Consequently, nutrigenetics focuses on the interaction between nutrients and genes at the molecular level while epigenetics are interested in the changes in organisms caused by modifications of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.[24]

Epigenetics must not be confused with epigenomics. Whereas epigenomics focuses on the analysis of epigenetic alterations in a cell or an entire organism, epigenetics refers to the process that controls how and when specific genes are turned on and off.[25] Epigenetic changes are therefore central in nutritional epigenetics. Epigenetic changes are heritable adjustments to gene expression and chromatin structure that do not originate from modifications to the DNA sequence.[26] DNA methylation changes and histone modification constitute the key epigenetic modifications.[27] Among the central trigger factors of epigenetic changes are food components and this can amount to abnormal profiles of epigenetic changes leading to diseases.[28] This grounds the next discourse on how molecules in food affect one’s health.

  • Exploring how molecules in food affect one’s health

Food bioactive components are one of the essential components under nutritional genomics. These are extra-nutritional components like carotenoids, phenolic compounds, terpenoids, fatty acids, and saponins, all found in small quantities in foods.[29] Bioactive components of food can transfer information from the external environment and influence gene expression in the cell hence the function of the entire organism.[30] So if, for instance, a spinach is in an environment where either air, water, or soil has been polluted, those very pollutant toxins will form part of the chemistry of this spinach and when this spinach will be consumed, all it has will alter the expression of the genes of the consumer.

This means that food is beyond being a source of energy and basic nutrients because it equally influences one’s health, biochemical mechanisms and activation of biochemical pathways.[31] The bioactive components of the diet moderate gene expression via alterations in the chromatin structure, non-coding RNA, activation of transcription factors by gesturing cascades or even direct ligand binding to the nuclear receptors.[32] DNA methylation and histone modifications form part of the chromatin structure changes[33] occasioned by bioactive food components.

It is important to elucidate the three terms mentioned: histones, chromatin, and DNA methylation in the scope of nutritional genomics. The basic chromatin unit, or nucleosome, which consists of 147 base pairs of DNA wrapped around an octamer of histone proteins, is made up of proteins called histones.[34] Chromatin is thus the material which the chromosomes of organisms are made up of and it consists of protein, RNA, and DNA.[35] DNA methylation on the other hand is about attaching methyl groups to the nitrogen bases of nucleotides.[36] It is important to highlight that although DNA methylation is often linked with the regulation of gene expression and modulation of chromatin structure, it also plays a role in processes like the inactivation of the X-chromosome or parent imprinting.[37]

The issues of transcription in the cell are understood in the scope of transcriptomics which touches everything relating to RNAs like their transcription and expression levels, functions, locations, trafficking, and degradation.[38] Additionally, it contains information about the start sites, 5′ and 3′ end sequences, splicing patterns, and posttranscriptional modifications of transcripts and their parent genes.[39] To grasp fully nutritional genomics, we shall look at a few examples of experiments that show how the quality and quantity of the food taken affects gene expression. Before that, there is a need to understand how some nutrients affect gene expression.

  • Recent experiments on food quality and quantity vis-à-vis gene expressions
  • Diet and epigenetics in the honeybee

The simplest way to understand how diet can affect what one becomes through genetic expression regulation is to examine the bee’s colony. Just because of the type of diet a particular bee is indulged in, its behaviour, function, lifespan and morphology in relation to other genetically identical bees is changed.[40] Larvae bees are for example all fed with the royal jelly.[41] Then later, worker larvae change their diet to pollen and nectar while the queen larvae are fed the royal jelly their whole life as larvae and adults.[42] The chemical composition of royal jelly is made of proteins, amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins. It is the MRJP1 protein that is plenty in the royal jelly which enables the queen differentiation through the activation of p70 S6 kinase and the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)- mediated signalling pathway.[43] On the other side, DNMT3 expression in honeybee larvae mimics the effects of royal jelly, causing the larvae that would typically be workers to develop into queens with fully formed ovaries.[44] This affirms the fact that what is consumed directly affects the genetic expression of that individual.

  1. The impact of dietary protein and carbohydrates on gene expression in a cotton bollworm

Protein and carbohydrates are essential nutrients need in large amounts by all animals to survive. An experiment was done to establish the genetic expression impacts resulting from the alteration of the protein (p): carbohydrates (c) ratio. First, the eggs of a caterpillar were collected, and the neonates were hatched in the laboratory before being transferred to individual cells. These neonates were then subjected to four diet treatments, each having a different protein: carbohydrate ratio. More elaborately:

‘Because sweet corn and cotton are common hosts for H. zea, these diets simulate the nutritional variability encountered by larvae in the field. Treatments consisted of a three p:c ratios with a total macronutrient concentration of 42%, which is indicative of vegetative tissues: a carbohydrate-biased diet (CB-42) mimicking sweet corn kernels, a diet that approximated the reported intake target for H. zea (IT-42) and reflected the nutrient content of immature cotton flowers, or squares, as well as a protein-biased diet (PB-IT) that represented the nutrient content of mature leaves. The intake target ratio was also tested at a higher total macronutrient concentration of 68% (IT-68), which is indicative of reproductive tissues and mimicked the nutrient content of developing cotton seeds, a preferred resource for H. zea larvae. Larvae were reared on their respective diets during their entire larval development and fed ad libitum’.[45]

In the end, the tests revealed that feeding on the carbohydrates-biased CB-42 diet resulted in the differential regulation of 281 genes.[46]  39 GO terms were up-regulated while 142 GO terms were down-regulated.[47] On the other hand, feeding on a protein-biased PB-42 diet affected the regulation of 107 genes whereby 80% of DE genes were down-regulated and only 20% up-regulated. However, those fed on a diet high in macro-nutrient content had a huge impact on overall transcription.[48] It’s interesting to note that 1870 genes were regulated simply by increasing the calorie level of the IT diet from 42% to 68%. Both the up-regulated and down-regulated numbers were comparable.[49] Therefore, this as well confirms the fact that the nutritional content of the food taken affects the up-regulation and down-regulation of the genetic terms.

  1. Nutrients as methyl group donors

For DNA and histone methylation to take place, methyl groups must be present. The methyl groups derived from foods consumed include methyl-folate, choline, betaine, or methionine.[50] In the process of one-carbon metabolism, metabolization of these nutrients takes place in pathways that rely too on other nutrients like vitamins B12 or B6 to form S- adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) which is the metabolic source of methyl groups for DNA methylation.[51]  When a methyl group is transferred from AdoMet to cytosine by DNMTs, 5mC is generated.[52] A methyl group from AdoMet vide HMT activity is utilized by the methylation of the histone tail residues lysine and arginine.[53] S- adenosylhomocysteine (AdoHcy) is formed the moment AdoMet donates a methyl group and this competes with AdoMet for the substrate binding site on all methyl transferases.[54] As a result, the ratio of concentrations of AdoHcy to AdoMet in the tissue is proportional to the methylation potential.

In 1984, the first suggestion that a diet can modify DNA methylation was reported by Poirer, an expert in genomics, and colleagues.[55]  They observed that there was a decrease in methylation of cytosines in hepatic nuclear DNA when rats fed on a diet that was very low in methyl donors.[56] Shockingly, these changes were linked with the development of liver cancers. Moreover, these diet-related modifications to hepatic DNA methylation were linked to modifications in hepatic gene expression.[57] Epigenetic marks are essentially established in the nascent stages of life and progressively copied and maintained during cell replications.[58] This explains why malnutrition for pregnant mothers will affect the child born, even later in life when this child switches to a better diet.

  1. Air Pollution Changing the Chemical Composition of Food

Although air pollution can cause direct physical injury to crops and lowered yields with an increment in the level of the pollutants, it also drastically affects the very chemical structure of the plant since the pollution components through respiration, acid rain or photosynthesis end up interacting with the plant’s chemical makeup.[59] These modifications may make the crop more sensitive to external shocks, which could result in considerable yield losses. For instance, exposure to sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide consistently causes a rise in the growth rates of certain aphid pests.[60] The radioactive components of air pollution, like those emitted from the current Russia-Ukraine war, end up affecting the plant’s chemistry hence the DNA alteration[61] of the consumers even here in Africa as the air moves to all places.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are 187 pollutants classified as hazardous.[62] Gases like hydrogen chloride, benzene or toluene, dioxin, compounds like asbestos, or elements such as cadmium, mercury, and chromium end up seriously affecting the chemistry of the plant and the genetic expression of the consumers to the extent of amounting to certain cancers.[63] For instance, benzene is known as a myelotoxin and can increase the chance of developing lymphomas, myelodysplastic syndromes, aplastic anaemia, and acute myeloid leukaemia.[64] The chemical alterations in crops due to air pollution, therefore, end up affecting negatively the genetic expression of the genes of the consumer.

  • The application of nutritional genomics in the Kenyan scenario today

As earlier noted, the Kenyan hunger condition resulting from pollution has resulted in malnutrition. This malnutrition affects the genetic expression of the people involved because the intake of the macro and micronutrients and minerals is inadequate, yet these nutrients and minerals affect the enzymes involved in genetic expression or even are directly involved in some of the genetic expressions. The polluted air affects the chemistry of the crops and hence the consumers and this means that the food we consume communicates the toxins in our environment to our genetic expression hence affecting us genetically. The use of toxic pesticides like those aforementioned that are already banned in other places affects the chemistry of the plant as well and when consumed, ends up causing genetic expression alterations. This malnutrition and pollution at large are thus dangerous to the health of the Kenyans who not only lack enough food but consume toxic foods as a result of using toxic pesticides and consuming crops that have been affected by the polluted air around them.

  1. The checkmate of COP27’s negotiations
    1. Conceptualizing Negotiation

Negotiation comes from a Latin word: negotiat- ‘done in the course of business’, from the verb negotiari, from negotium ‘business’, from neg- ‘not’ + otium ‘leisure’.[65] In the course of justice administration, negotiation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that involves the parties resolving their dispute by reaching an agreement either through written correspondence or a meeting between all concerned.[66] This happens without prejudice hence whatever is said in the resolution cannot later be used in court against another party.[67] It allows the disputants to meet for the sake of solving their dispute, and they are fully in charge hence they control the process and solution of their negotiation.[68] It is thus less formal than all types of ADR and it is much more flexible.[69]

Negotiation is hinted at in the Constitution of Kenya, 2010, Article 159 (2)(c) as an ADR mechanism.[70] Article 33 of the Charter of the United Nations mentions negotiation as a path to finding a solution when there is a dispute amongst states[71] as it states that the parties to any disagreement must first attempt to resolve it via dialogue if its continuation is likely to jeopardize the upholding of international peace and security.[72] Even during mediation, the parties negotiate, only that now they do it in the presence of the mediator.[73] Negotiation digs deep to identify the real roots or the underlying causes of the conflict and relationships of the parties.[74] It is meant for peacebuilding and strives to arrive at a win-win solution for the dispute involved.[75] Negotiation can involve individuals or even unions.[76]

Methods of negotiation include positional negotiation, principled negotiation and interest-based negotiation.[77] Whenever positional bargaining is used, it risks dividing the members because arguing over the hardline positions yields unwise agreements ensconced on coalition formations among the parties with shared interests.[78] However, principled negotiation handles issues for the sake of themselves instead of juggling with what each party says it will do or not do.[79] Negotiators are encouraged to have a result based on some fair standards independent of the will of either party.[80] So principled negotiation allows the parties to obtain a fair share and still protects them against exploitation of such fairness.

  • How and Why COP27’s Negotiations Have Failed to Address the Pollution Crisis

Africa accounts for the littlest share of global greenhouse gas emissions of just 3.8% as compared with macro pollutants like China, the United States, and the European Union, which account respectively for 23%, 19%, and 13% of global emissions.[81] Although the Kenyans as aforementioned are endangered by their genetic expression impacts as a result of especially malnutrition, toxic chemicals like pesticides and air pollution, there is reluctance by the international community to establish and implement long-lasting resolutions. As early as 2017 for example:

‘Fifth assessment report (AR5) of 2015 and the 2018 Special report on the implications of the 1.5ºC global warming produced by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicated that keeping global temperature rise below 1.5ºC would require ‘deep emissions reductions and rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’.[82]

It is plausible to note that COP27 2022 aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening resilience, and action after impacts.[83] Arguably, it aims at achieving these through finance, technology and innovation, knowledge and awareness, capacity building, education and training, inclusion in action and integrated approaches to disaster risk reduction.[84]  Stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would foreclose harmful manmade intervention with the climate system is the UNFCCC’s primary goal.[85] Even though the first COP meeting was held in Berlin, Germany in March 1995[86] each year it has been held since then, to discuss the way forward in erasing pollution today, the same pollution continues to intensify and climate change is now a reality.

It is not that COP has no power to effect the noble decisions negotiated each year because:

‘The Conference of Parties (COP) is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP, at which they review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts and take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the Convention, including institutional and administrative arrangements. A key task for the COP is to review the reports submitted by Parties on their GHG emissions and climate action’.[87]

The reason behind the failed negotiations of COP since it was established is most likely because of the superiority complex in some of the members. When the classification of first, second, and third world countries comes in, then nothing much can be done. The nations that are the macro pollutants continue with the emissions and this impunity has not been challenged and hardly be challenged because of the changed narrative that they are helping Africa for example with aid, which sure they do. However, if this aid is brought for their reparation, it will correct their impunity because they will be reminded of the consequences of pollution—that when they pollute the environment massively as they do, then they must pay for it dearly.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance observes that important concerns like funding for loss and damage and tripling adaptation funding intended to hasten the implementation of climate initiatives are not getting the attention they merit.[88]  The agenda of Africa’s loss and damage and the need for reparation was added to the discourse of COP27 just after two weeks since the conference started.[89] No wonder why there were demonstrations by climate activists at the Sharm el-Sheik International Convention Centre, in Egypt.[90]

President William Ruto, speaking on behalf of Africa, noted that the lengthy COP27 discussions must not be used as delay tactics by the macro pollutants to evade talking about reparations for the calamities caused as part of the ripple effects of climate change due to pollution.[91] This depicts humongous levels of malice on the side of the macro pollutants who are part of the negotiation, who ought to pay for their climate pollution damage, yet who find the guts to sell toxic pesticides to the already affected poor Africans.[92] This also raises concerns several Kenyans are sceptical about America’s suggestion of GMO foods as an antidote to the current food crisis due to pollution.[93]

For the oppressed ‘third’ world countries who passively endure for example genetic expression alterations due to malnutrition resulting from the pollution, they are shaped to be paupers.[94] But the truth is that the African nations, Kenya included, can be independent, can find solutions for their problems, and can be autonomous if left free.[95] The failure of the negotiations can be associated too with the issue of the ‘first’ world countries being sated while the ‘third’ world countries are plunged into hunger. The Kenyans and many other Africans unborn who will permanently be affected by the genetic expression alterations will not be compensated enough by merely the few food[96] donations.

In the manipulated COP27 negotiations, the interests prioritise are therefore those of the ‘first’ world countries; yet, in a fruitful negotiation, just like in mediation, the interests of both parties ought to be equally considered. It has already been pointed out that the issue of damages and reparations for the African nations has just been added to the agenda list two weeks after the conference started. This inherently shows how the powerful nations who are the macro pollutants feel and think lowly about Africa and the Africans. There is a need to change this attitude if COP conferences are to be meaningful.

Although they call it a dialogue, it seems like the powerful nations have preconceived resolutions before even the sessions commence so that even after the parties air their opinions and worries, only what the powerful nations want is often implemented in their ambitions. This is a danger to a healthy negotiation where the members ought to amicably dialogue in love towards mutual benefits. Of course, COP resolutions end up in a win-win resolution, but one ‘win’ of the powerful nations is heavier than that of the ‘third’ world countries receiving say those funds like a donation, instead of a reparation from the ‘First’ world countries.

  1. Recommendations
  2. The Macro-Pollutants must pay reparation for compensation for the harm they have caused and continue to cause because if they pay it as a punishment and not charity, they will be humbled and not exalted as is the case currently when they do it as a donation.
  3. For meaningful COP negotiations, there is a need to have the members as equals since there is nobody who ought to be superior in negotiation. Hence, the classifications of ‘First’, ‘Second’ and ‘Third’ Worlds imparts superiority and inferiority for the negotiating parties.
  4. Kenya should establish strict regulations on the pesticides used to avoid the use of toxic pesticides banned in other countries.
  5. Countries selling Africans toxic pesticides should be penalized for the same as the same presents Africa as a dumpsite of toxic substances banned elsewhere, and this endangers their lives by affecting their genetic expression as aforementioned.
  6. Kenyans should be encouraged to share food to avoid others dying of hunger or suffering malnutrition, something that amounts to genetic modification.
  7. More trees should be planted by everyone to reduce the global warming currently experienced.
  • Conclusion

Kenyans face the big challenge of hunger that is sparked by drought which is a child of pollution and climate change. This results in malnutrition that in turn affects their genetic expressions, for example, it causes permanent developmental impairments for unborn fetuses. The powerful nations add a sword to a wound that has hardly healed when they sell toxic pesticides to the African nations. The COP27 conference, like the previous COP conferences, seems to be a failure due to the continuous superiority complex encrusted in the priorities of the powerful nations who end up undermining the concerns of the Africans due to the current climate change. As a method of dispute resolution, a fruitful negotiation demands the parties be equal. Therefore, there is a need for the global community to avoid division and malice when stipulating the agenda for the COP conferences such that key issues affecting the so-called developing countries are not side-lined just because they are from, for example, Africa and not from Europe or America, or China or Russia.

The author holds a Degree in Philosophy from the Pontifical University of Urbaniana, Rome. He is currently winding up his Masters in Philosophy at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. He is also a law student at the University of Nairobi Parklands. He has published two novels: Peeling the Cobwebs (2020) and Her Question Pills (2020). Currently, he is an intern at Kenya Law.


[1] Roberto Anaya-Prado, Juliana Marisol Godínez-Rubí, Malva Guadalupe Valle-Anaya, et al, ‘The genetic expression of water-soluble vitamins’ Academia Mexicana de Cirugía, Vol 84, Issue 1 [2016], 43.

[2] Leesa Morrison, ‘Let Food Be Thy Medicine’. Online Article:  https://theghoshcircle.org/blog/let-food-be-thy-medicine [November 15, 2022].

[3] Hellen Shikanda, ‘Governments back fossil fuel despite health risks, study says’ Daily Nation [November 1, 2022], p. 12.

[4] Hellen Shikanda, ibid.

[5] Mithika Mwenda, ‘COP27: A chance to save millions from climate-fueled hunger’ The Standard [November 1, 2022], p. 18.

[6] John Njuguna, ‘Fruitless Fields’ Daily Nation [November 1, 2022], p. 4.

[7] Nelly Bosire, ‘Children of a lesser god’ Daily Nation [November 1, 2022], 7.

[8] NTV Kenyan News, ‘Baringo: Nursing mother collapses, dies due to hunger’ [November 12, 2022].

[9] NTV Kenyan News, ibid.

[10] Taylor Heyman, ‘East Africa’s Drought likely to kill one person every 36 seconds’ The National News [October 14, 2022] online article: https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/africa/10/14/east-africas-drought-likely-to-kill-one-person-every-36-seconds/ [November 13, 2022].

[11] James Kahongeh, ‘Can we climb out of this hole? The climate crisis of our times’ Daily Nation [November 1, 2022], 4.

[12] James Kahongeh, p. 5.

[13] Fredrik Lerneryd, ‘Drought kills hundreds of animals in Kenyan wildlife preserves’ Aljazeera [November 7, 2022]. https://www.aljazeera.com/gallery/2022/11/7/photos-drought-kills-hundreds-of-animals-in-kenyan-wildlife-preserves [November 13, 2022].

[14] Paul Kairu, ‘Toxic pesticides banned in Europe being peddled to Global South farmers’ The East African [November 5, 2022], available online: https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/tea/science-health/banned-toxic-pesticides-being-sold-in-global-south-4009080 [November 13, 2022].

[15] Paul Kairu, ibid.

[16] Paul Kairu, ibid.

[17] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ‘Dietary Modulation of the Epigenome’ American Physiological Society Journal, Vol 98 [April 2018], pp. 687-688.

[18] Ministry of Health, ‘National Cancer Taskforce Report’ [July 2022], p. 16. Available online: https://www.health.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/National-Cancer-Taskforce-Report-July-2022.pdf [November 13, 2022].

[19] Ministry of Health, ‘National Cancer Taskforce Report’, p. 15.

[20] Justyna Mier Ziak, Kamil Kostyn, Aleksandra Boba, et al, ‘Influence of the Bioactive Diet Components on the Gene Expression Regulation’ Nutrients Journal, Vol 13, [2021], p. 2.

[21] Marta Guasch-Ferré, Hassan S Dashti, and Jordi Merino, ‘Nutritional Genomics and Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing: An Overview’ American Society for Nutrition Journal, Vol 9, Issue 2, [March 2018], p, 129.

[22] Janhabi Mohapatra, ‘Nutrigenomics: Effect of Food on Gene Expression’ Gene Technology Journal, Vol.10 Iss.6, [December 30, 2021], p. 1.

[23] Hannah Landecker, ‘Food as Exposure: Nutritional Epigenetics and the Molecular Politics of Eating’ CSW Update Newsletter [May 10, 2010], p 20. Available online: https://escholarship.org/content/qt6j50v781/qt6j50v781.pdf [November 13, 2022].

[24] Jen Myers, ‘How Nutrition Plays a Role in Epigenetics; The Science of Nutrigenetics’ [October 1, 2019]. Online article: https://sunwarrior.com/blogs/health-hub/nutrition-nutrigenetics#:~:text=Nutrigenetics%20involves%20the%20study%20of,of%20the%20genetic%20code%20itself. [November 13, 2022].

[25] Michael Fenech, ‘Perspectives in Nutrigenomics and Nutrigenetics’ Sight and Life Journal, Vol 29, Issue 1[2015], pp. 65-66.

[26] Justyna Mier Ziak, Kamil Kostyn, Aleksandra Boba, et al, op cit., p. 2.

[27] Justyna Mier Ziak, Kamil Kostyn, Aleksandra Boba, et al, ibid.

[28] Justyna Mier Ziak, Kamil Kostyn, Aleksandra Boba, et al, ibid.

[29] Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, ‘Bioactive Compounds of Food: Their Role in The Prevention and Treatment of Diseases 2021’ [2022]. Accessed online: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/si/512748/ [November 13, 2022].

[30] Justyna Mier Ziak, Kamil Kostyn, Aleksandra Boba, et al, op cit., p. 2.

[31] Justyna Mier Ziak, Kamil Kostyn, Aleksandra Boba, et al, ibid.

[32] Justyna Mier Ziak, Kamil Kostyn, Aleksandra Boba, et al, ibid.

[33] Justyna Mier Ziak, Kamil Kostyn, Aleksandra Boba, et al, ibid.

[34] Justyna Mier Ziak, Kamil Kostyn, Aleksandra Boba, et al, ibid.

[35] Oxford Dictionary, Available Online:  https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+chromatin&rlz=1C1JZAP_enKE981KE981&oq=what+is+chromatin&aqs=chrome..69i57.6503j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 [November 13, 2022].

[36] Justyna Mier Ziak, Kamil Kostyn, Aleksandra Boba, et al, op cit., p. 2.

[37] Justyna Mier Ziak, Kamil Kostyn, Aleksandra Boba, et al, ibid.

[38] EA Milward and H Hondermarck, ‘Systems Cell Biology’ Encyclopedia of Cell Biology [2016]. Available online: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/transcriptomics [November 14, 2022].

[39] EA Milward and H Hondermarck, ibid.

[40] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, op cit., 668.

[41] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ibid.

[42] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ibid.

[43] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ibid.

[44] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ibid.

[45] Carrie A. Deans, Greg Sword, Heiko Vogel, et al, ‘The impact of dietary protein and carbohydrates on gene expression in a generalist insect herbivore’ Texas A&M University [2020], p. 6.

[46] Carrie A. Deans, Greg Sword, Heiko Vogel, et al, p. 8.

[47] Carrie A. Deans, Greg Sword, Heiko Vogel, et al, ibid.

[48] Carrie A. Deans, Greg Sword, Heiko Vogel, et al, p. 9.

[49] Carrie A. Deans, Greg Sword, Heiko Vogel, et al, ibid.

[50] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, op cit, 678.

[51] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ibid.

[52] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ibid.

[53] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ibid.

[54] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ibid.

[55] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ibid.

[56] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ibid.

[57] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ibid.

[58] Folami Y. Ideraabdullah and Steven H. Zeisel, ibid.

[59] Fiona Marshall, Mike Ashmore, and Fiona Hinchcliffe, ‘A hidden threat to food production: Air pollution and agriculture in the developing world’ Gatekeeper Series SA73 [1995], p. 4.

[60] Fiona Marshall, Mike Ashmore, and Fiona Hinchcliffe, ibid.

[61] Iuliana Florentina, Gheorghe and Barbu Ion, ‘The Effects of Air Pollutants on Vegetation and the Role of Vegetation in Reducing Atmospheric Pollution’ [2011]. Available Online: https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/18642 [November 18, 2022].

[62] American Lung Association, ‘What Are Toxic Air Pollutants?’ [2020]. Available Online: https://www.lung.org/clean-air/outdoors/what-makes-air-unhealthy/toxic-air-pollutants#:~:text=Toxic%2C%20or%20hazardous%2C%20air%20pollutants,cadmium%2C%20mercury%2C%20and%20chromium [November 18, 2022].

[63] American Lung Association, ibid.

[64] Spatari G, Allegra A, Carrieri M, Pioggia G, Gangemi S, ‘Epigenetic Effects of Benzene in Hematologic Neoplasms: The Altered Gene Expression’ Cancers (Basel) Vol 14, Issue 10 [2021]. Available online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8156840/ [November 18, 2022].

[65] Oxford Dictionary. Available online: https://www.google.com/search?q=etymology+of+negotiate&rlz=1C1JZAP_enKE981KE981&oq=Etymology+of+negotiate&aqs=chrome.0.0i512j0i15i22i30j0i390l4.6667j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8 [November 18, 2022].

[66] Portor Dodson Solicitors and Advisors, ‘Alternative dispute resolution’. Available online: https://www.porterdodson.co.uk/alternative-dispute-resolution-solicitors#:~:text=Perhaps%20the%20most%20common%20and,a%20meeting%20between%20all%20concerned [November 18, 2022].

[67] Portor Dodson Solicitors and Advisors, ibid.

[68] Legal Information Institute, ‘alternative dispute resolution’. Available online:  https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/alternative_dispute_resolution#:~:text=Negotiation%20allows%20the%20parties%20to,for%20a%20lot%20of%20flexibility [November 18, 2022].

[69] Legal Information, ibid.

[70] Constitution of Kenya, 2010, article 159(2)(c).

[71] Charter of the United Nations, 1945, article 33.

[72] Kariuki Muigua, ‘The Lawyer as a Negotiator, Mediator and Peacemaker in Kenya’ Paper Presented at the 2015 LSK Annual Conference, Leisure Lodge & Beach Resort, Diani Mombasa 12th – 16th August 2015. P. 6.

[73] Kariuki Muigua, (n144) ibid.

[74] M. Mwagiru, ‘The Water’s Edge: Mediation of Violent Electoral Conflict in Kenya’ Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies, Nairobi [2008], pp.36-38.

[75] Kariuki Muigua (n144), p. 11.

[76] Agricultural Employers Association v Kenya Plantation & Agricultural Workers [2015] eKLR.

[77] R. Fisher, et al, ‘Getting to Yes: Negotiating an Agreement without Giving In’, Random House Business Books 3rd ed [2012], pp. xxvi-xxvii.

[78] R. Fisher, et al, (n148), p. 23.

[79] Kariuki Muigua (n144), op cit., p. 11.

[80] R. Fisher, et al, (n148), p. 23.

[81] Amadou Sy, ‘Africa: Financing Adaptation and Mitigation in the World’s Most Vulnerable Region’, p. 58.

[82] The African Academy of Sciences, ‘Outcome Document of the AAS Climate Change Experts Consultative Meeting’ July 2019, p. 2.

[83] COP 27 Climate Action Hub, Guidelines [2022], p. 1.

[84] COP 27 Climate Action Hub, ibid.

[85] A day in the life of an observer at COP, ‘An observer handbook for COP 27’ [2022], p. 4.

[86] A day in the life of an observer at COP, p. 5.

[87] A day in the life of an observer at COP, ibid.

[88] Hellen Shikanda, ‘Tension, Anger Ahead of COP27 Final Resolutions’ Daily Nation Newspaper [November 18, 2022], p. 2.

[89] Hellen Shikanda ibid.

[90] Hellen Shikanda, ibid.

[91] Hellen Shikanda, ibid.

[92] Paul Kairu, op cit.

[93] Kenyan NGOs protest approval of GM crops, African News [2022]. Available Online:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp4xclp9jjs [November 18, 2022].

[94] Nchimunya Muvwende, ‘How long shall Africans be beggars?’ Zambia Daily Mail Limited [June 29, 2018]. Available Online: http://www.daily-mail.co.zm/how-long-shall-africans-be-beggars/ [November 18, 2022].

[95] Nchimunya Muvwende, (n168) ibid.

[96] Cyrus Ombati, ‘Relief as state sends nutrition supplies to Northern Kenya’ The Star Newspaper [12 July 2022]. Available online: https://www.the-star.co.ke/counties/north-eastern/2022-07-12-relief-as-state-sends-nutrition-supplies-to-northern-kenya/ [November 18, 2022].

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The author holds a Degree in Philosophy from the Pontifical University of Urbaniana, Rome. He is currently winding up his master’s in philosophy at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa. He is also a law student at the University of Nairobi, Parklands. He has published two novels: Peeling the Cobwebs (2020) and Her Question Pills (2020). Currently, he is an intern at Kenya Law.