President Edgar Lungu must intervene to state government’s position on the decision taken by the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) to allow Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into Zambia, says the ZNFU.
And the African Consumer Union (ACU) and the Zambia Consumers’ Association (ZACA) have also rejected the NBA’s approval that three distributors import genetically modified foodstuffs into the country.
In a statement, Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) president Jervis Zimba said the NBA’s decision risks destroying the agriculture sector and the diversification agenda.
He said the government needed to make its position clear and indicate which direction the country was now taking over the genetically modified products.
This follows NBA’s issuance of import permits to three companies, Thursday, namely Cold Chain, Horizon and Innscor, to import products that may contain GMOs.
“ZNFU is hence calling on the government to come clean on the matter and tell the nation its position on the GMOs. The Minister of Agriculture should also state which direction we are taking on this matter. In the same breath, we are also appealing for the intervention of the Head of State, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, over the GMO imports that are threatening to destroy our agriculture and our diversification agenda,” Zimba stated in a press release issued, Friday.
“We are also seeking legal positions as regards this development. As partners in agriculture development, we are ready to meet government to table our position and fears on accepting the importation of foods containing or partially containing GMOs.”
He explained that allowing GMOs into the local food chain would cause farmers to lose their access to lucrative overseas markets, and also reverse the gains made in diversifying their crop production.
“The fact that we are a non-GMO country has given us an edge over GMO crop-producing countries, which fact is known in all corners of the world. That we are non-GMO has resulted in our farmers investing heavily in diversification into fruits and vegetables such as Macadamia nuts, Avocados, blue berries, cashew nuts and the greens, most of which are grown organically. This is what has attracted huge international markets, such as the European Union (EU), to Zambia’s crop,” Zimba explained.
“The sheer ignorance exhibited, or the choice to be insensitive to our local farmers’ plight and health implications on our people by the NBA, deeply saddens us. We risk losing our non-GMO foods export niche on the international market, which has opened doors to Zambia’s fruits and vegetables, once we are labelled a GMO country. All the investments farmers and the country have made over the years will count to nothing. The diversification agenda will collapse.”
He also argued that the NBA has no jurisdiction to change Zambia’s non-GMO status.
“ZNFU is appalled by the NBA decision to allow companies to import foods containing GMOs. From the outset, the NBA should realise that Zambia is a non-GMO country, and we have historically been so. NBA has no jurisdiction to change that,” stated Zimba.
“The Authority does not have the capacity to police the importation of these GMOs, and they should be ready to face consequences when the country gets flooded by GMO foods.”
And the ACU and ZACA have equally rejected the NBA’s approval to allow GMO imports into the country.
In a joint press statement signed by both ACU vice president Muyunda Ililonga and the ZACA executive secretary, the associations alleged that GMOs are “poisonous” for human consumption, and that they should not be allowed into the country.