The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) says food safety is important and of public health significance.

Speaking ahead of the World Food Safety Day, NBA Registrar Lackson Tonga said the need for safe and quality foods cannot be over emphasized.

The first-ever World Food Safety Day was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018 and will be celebrated on June 7, 2019 under the theme “Food Safety, everyone’s business”.

This is according to a statement issued by NBA communications officer Sandra Lombe.

“Food safety is of public health importance and the NBA plays a big role in ensuring the safety of the public, animals and the environment. Our mandate is to regulate the import, export, transit, research and development, use and application involving genetically modified products. Currently the stressful conditions due to various factors including climate change have resulted in human beings finding solutions to mitigate this and genetic modification has resulted into increased production of Genetically Modified foods. These foods cannot be consumed without undergoing risk assessment. Therefore, the NBA ensures the safety of humans, animals and the environment and this is done through a scientific evidence based risk assessment of Genetically Modified products,” Tonga said.

Tonga said risk assessment is an essential tool in ensuring safe and healthy foods.

“Safe and nutritious food is key to sustaining life and promoting good health. If the food is not safe, it does not only pose a risk to the consumers but also the economy and the health care systems of a nation. The NBA pledges its commitment to ensure food safety as it regulates the use, application, research, import, export, transit of any products that may contain GMOs,” he said.

Tonga, who is also NBA chief executive officer, said the 2019 World Food Safety Day theme aligns very well with the Authority’s mandate.

“It is our business to ensure that any product that may contain or is made from genetically modified organisms on the Zambian market is safe. Such products do undergo risk assessment through a consultative process which also includes scientific evaluation by the Scientific Advisory Committee. We would also like to re- assure the nation that GM food products that have been authorised by the NBA on the Zambian market are safe,” said Tonga.

Tonga said the NBA was cognizant of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)/ World Health Organisation (WHO) Codex standards on Genetically Modified foods and was working towards incorporating those into some guidelines.