GOVERNMENT has stuck to its guns that it will not allow genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Zimbabwe despite the hunger facing more than 2,5 million people in different provinces of the country.
by VENERANDA LANGA
Agriculture minister Joseph Made told the National Assembly that government had not changed its policy on GMOs, adding any maize imports from other countries would go through extensive security checks.
Bindura South MP Remigious Matangira (Zanu PF) had asked Made to explain the policy with regards GMO given severe starvation facing the country.
Matangira said the probability of the maize to be imported from Brazil, Argentina and the United States being GMO maize was high, and quizzed Made to explain if government would soften up on its anti-GMO policy.
Made was also asked to explain logistical arrangements of bringing the maize into the country as the railway system was in a comatose state, while neighbouring countries with ports would be worried about their own food transportation.
The Agriculture minister said he would need time to research on logistics of bringing in approximately 1,5 million metric tonnes of staple maize in Zimbabwe.
“On any maize that would possibly be GMO, the country is very clear on that. We do not accept GMO maize. When it is accepted, it has got to be brought in under escort, direct for milling if we give the permits for such maize to ever come into the country,” Made replied.
But MPs questioned if Zimbabwe was really capable of fishing out GMO foods from imported food stuffs coming daily into the country?
“Yes, all maize that comes into the country and the consignments are tested at ports of entry,” Made said.
Asked if tinned foods were also scrutinised to find out if they were GMO products, Made said it was not in the purview of his ministry to check whether processed foods were GMO or not.
“I am concerned about materials that have the possibility of germinating. Grain and processed food is a different subject. That is why I said if we give the authority for GMO grain to come in, it has to go directly for milling,” he said.
Local crop researchers and scientists were, however, pushing for change of policy to guarantee the country’s food security.
Scientists say that the policy on GMOs threatened food security as countries that have adopted GMOs experienced good yields.