Govt Sends Mixed Signals on GMOs

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The government of Zimbabwe has issued contradicting positions on importation and distribution of Genetically Modified Organisms in the country under the second republic.

During the Robert Mugabe regime, the government’s position on GMOs clearly rejected genetically modified foods.

Genetically modified foods are products of scientific advancements that aim to improve crop protection, yield, and nutritional value.

However, last Tuesday, during the post cabinet briefing, Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural development Dr Anxious Masuka said the private sector was permitted to import GMOs under strict guidelines.

“We said that the private sector must continue to import maize for human consumption, and we also said that if they wished to import genetically modified grain, they can do so but that must be under strict supervision, for milling and distribution and styled for stock feed.

Contradiction

The following day in the National Assembly former deputy minister of finance and Zaka East legislator Hon Clemence Chidawu asked.

“Given the food deficit that we are (sic), what is government policy regarding the importation and consumption of GMOs in general and grain in particular.”

Due to the absence of minister Masuka in parliament on the day in question, head of government business in Parliament and minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Ziyambi Ziyambi responded.

” The short response is, we do not allow GMO’s.

“When the time comes, we will look at options that include GMOs if need be but currently, Madam Speaker we do not have a policy allowing importation of GMO grain because we do not want to contaminate our fields with GMOs.

“But when the time comes, if need be, the nation will be advised,” he said.

The two government ministers have issued contradicting statements which may confuse private sector and consumers on whether GMOs are allowed in the country and whether they are already in circulation.

As a result of the El nino induced drought, the World Food Program estimates that 5.3 million Zimbabweans will be food insecure.