MEMBERS of Parliament on Wednesday quizzed Agriculture (Livestock) deputy minister Paddy Zhanda to clarify government’s position as regards importation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) foodstuffs as they were now readily available in shops despite the ban.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER
Leader of the opposition MDC-T in the House Thokozani Khupe said most supermarkets were stocked with GMO products.
Bulawayo East MP Thabita Khumalo (MDC-T) added: “Who then checks the quality of foods imported? The challenges we are getting are, for example, you get mealie-meal from outside the country with a notice attached on it that it should not be consumed by children below 13 years old.
“What government policy is there to curb that because the result is there for all of us to see: Big stomachs and big bodies that do not make sense?”
Zhanda said government would not rush to lift the ban and adopt GMO technology before a scientific conclusion as to their safety was reached, adding that most of the foodstuffs were being smuggled through the border posts.
“The issue of GMOs is a very controversial issue in the sense that no scientific conclusion has been arrived at in terms of its effects to human consumption and, therefore, when we look at world trends, there are countries which are pro-GMO, while some are anti-GMO and Zimbabwe is one of them,” replied Zhanda.
“For the safety of people I think it would not be in the interest of our country to just adopt GMO technology without having made a scientific conclusion on them.”
Zhanda said the issue of GMO foods was an ongoing debate with various organisations and companies advocating their growing because GMO plants yielded better and cost less in terms of production. He said importation of food into the country required a permit, adding no one had been issued with a permit to import GMO foods.
“I admit that sometimes our borders are porous and that you might be consuming some GMO products. It means the entry of such foods into the country is illegal,” he said.