Is it over for Zambia's GMO drive?

The issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in whatever form is supposed to be a closed subject in Zambia.

Government has made its stand known and there should be no debate nor reports of GMOs ever crossing our borders.

The reasons are simple. It is primarily for the good health of Zambians and protection of our agriculture sector.

GMO products are hazardous to health while seed engineered in laboratories are bound to contaminate our agricultural system.

Studies have also shown that GMOs can cause resistance to anti-biotics and compromise immunity in people with poor health according to recent studies by Zambian experts.

The GM maize was also rejected on grounds that it had the capacity to affect, and may even wipe out local organic varieties.

Therefore, to hear that some unscrupulous Zambians are busy smuggling mealie-meal produced from GMOs calls for stern action against the offenders.

In the last week alone, Government has confiscated genetically modified mealie-meal.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister, Mundia Sikatana, expressed sadness at the development which must now be investigated thoroughly and any one breaking Government directives made to face the law.

But the story did not end there as the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) also uncovered some shrewd businessmen who have been illegally importing genetically modified mealie-meal from a neighbouring country.

MAZ chairman, Caleb Mulenga, has since called on Government to be on red-alert and look out for illegally imported and contaminated GM mealie-meal and take stern action against culprits.

That is the only way Zambia will protect its agriculture sector while ensuring its citizens enjoyed healthy lives.

We feel Government should come down heavy and punish any one breaking its directive on genetically modified foods.

Anyone breaking the law must be charged accordingly since the offence somehow borders on economic sabotage and endangering lives of Zambians.

While we hail Government and the MAZ for their quick response, we feel more needs to be done.

We are of the opinion that the completion of an K800 million laboratory at the National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research for testing GM products should be hastened.

Equally, on the fast track should be anti-GMO laws and training of experts to man the laboratory in Chilanga, near Lusaka, so that alien seed and products are shipped out the moment they are detected.

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