Zambia’s Health Minister backs utilisation of GM foodstuffs

ZAMBIA – Zambia’s Health Minister, Dr Chitalu Chilufya, said that Genetically Modified (GM) foodstuffs have been to have no adverse effects on human health hence assuring safety to consumers in the country.

According to a report by NewDiggers Dr Chilufya said that the ministry had undertaken relevant studies on the safety of GM food stuffs imported into the country and was confident of their safety.

This comes amid concerns on increased importation and sale of GM food stuffs across some stores in the country as well as longstanding concerns on their safety.

However, Dr Chilufya noted that the government had lifted the ban on the importation of GM 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,” Dr Chilufya said.

Additionally, Dr Chilufya said that the government has ensured enhanced collaboration between the National Biosafety Authority and other government agencies as part of ensuring safety of GM foodstuffs.

Among the government agencies instituted include Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Livestock and Ministry of Agriculture that work to ensure that the provisions of the Act are implemented.

“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.

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 added.

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

However, Dr Chilufya highlighted that the government has since then made significant progress in capacitating respective agencies in regards to bio-technology and bio-safety policy on GMOs.

Despite progression in adoption of GM foods in the world, most African countries have continued to express strong precautionary stance in regards to GMOs.

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