Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya says Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) food stuffs have been found not to affect the health of human organs following their consumption.

Explaining the findings of studies undertaken into GMO consumption in Parliament, Thursday, Dr Chilufya told MPs that GMO food stuffs were safe for consumption.

He was speaking when responding to a written question from Kabwe Central PF member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube on whether the ban on the importation of GMOs was still in effect, and if so, why supermarkets in Lusaka had continued to import such products.

Ngulube further asked the Minister what measures government was taking to curb the illegal importation of GMO food stuffs, and what health hazards GMO food products had on people who consumed them.

But Dr Chilufya explained that government had actually lifted the ban on the importation of GMO food stuffs, and that supermarkets were already stocking them on their shelves but in accordance with the provisions of the Biosafety Act.

“Supermarkets in Lusaka have continued to import GMO products in accordance with the provisions of the Bio-Safety Act No. (10) of 2007. Government has put the following measures to curb the illegal importation of GMO food stuffs; Enactment of the Bo-Safety Act No. (10) of 2007, which has established the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) as a statutory body responsible for the regulation of all activities related to GMOs; enhanced collaboration between the National Biosafety Authority and other government agencies, such as the Department responsible for public health in the Ministry of Health and the Department responsible for veterinary services under the Ministry of Livestock and Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the provisions of the Act are implemented,” Dr Chilufya told Parliament.

“All imported products are subjected to a risk assessment to ascertain their safety to humans and animals and the environment; routine inspections are carried out and products that do not adhere to the provisions of the Biosafety Act are confiscated, and several studies have been made on the safety of GMOs in human consumption [and] these studies have found organ health and function to be unaffected by GMOs [such as] fertility, pregnancy and offspring are also unaffected by the consumption of GMOs.”

He said the ban on importation was necessitated because Zambia did not have the capacity to handle GMOs.

“The ban on Genetically Modified Organisms is no longer in effect. The House may wish to note that the ban GMOs was effected because Zambia did not have the capacity to handle GMOs due to lack of qualified human resource and appropriate infrastructure as well as absence of policy and legal framework to guide the use and application of modern bio-technology. Government made strides in putting in place the bio-technology and bio-safety policy of 2003 as well as by enacting the bio-safety Act (10) of 2007 and the subsequent establishment of the National bio-safety Authority,” said Dr Chilufya.