ZAMBIA – Fast moving consumer goods distributor, Innscor Africa, Cold Chain and Horizon have received new permits to import products that may contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into Zambia.

Lusaka Times report indicates that the three distributors were among twelve retailers who were granted the new permit by National Biosafety Authority (NBA).

According to NBA Chief Executive officer, Lackson Tonga, the decision was arrived at after a risk assessment was conducted by the scientific advisory committee.

He said that the permits will allow the distributors to only import about 80% of the products that they initially applied for, while the other 20% were rejected by the authority.

This was attributed to the fact that the products may contain genetically modified soyabean product, which is believed to have been made through newly developed technologies which are NOT covered by the Biosafety Act.

He said the Authority has continued its spot and compliance checks and during the operations one distributor and four retailers have been asked to remove all the Genetically modified products from the shelves.

Legitimizing GMO’s in Zambia

Zambia has in the recent past reaffirmed its decision against the importation of GMO food, maintain its stand even during the 2015/16 prolonged drought season.

Barely five months ago, the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) maintained its hard stance on GMO’s, saying allow the importation of Genetically Modified Organic(GMO) foodstuffs into the country on safety concerns.

But making the new announcement, the NBA Chief Executive said the various products were safe for human, animal and the environment.

Following drought and crop failure which threatened the country’s food security, the country has been under pressure to review its position and legalize the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) within its borders.

Like several other African countries, Zambia instead embarked on a process to develop a biosafety legislation to regulate GM products.

However,Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) insinuated that the move by government to grant GMO permits was a dubious scheme by some organizations to legitimize Genetically Modified Organizations (GMOs) in the country.

“These authorities are trying to scheme ways of legitimizing Genetically Modified Foods in the country at the expense of what we have safeguarded for years,” Jervis Zimba, the association’s president said.

“It is important to note that this country is a non-GMO country, and any manoeuvres towards legitimizing GMOs will have far reaching implications that we can comprehend.” 

Zambia’s move follows closely to that of Uganda, whose parliament recently passed the GMO regulatory bill for safe development of the products.