Vitamin A enriched Orange Maize research project in Mkushi about to make history

Orange Maize
Orange Maize

The John Hopkins University (JHU) Research Team from United States of America (USA), has declared that Mkushi district was on the verge of making history from the on-going Vitamin enriched Orange Maize research project.

The Project’s Scientist Dr. Amanda Parmer told ZANIS that the research project was centered on a variety of Orange Maize which had been enriched with Vitamin A and better Carotene.

Dr. Parmer reaffirmed that the objective of the research was to find out if this Orange Maize variety could address what she termed as a widespread deficiency of Vitamin A, mostly amongst children.

She mentioned that the JHU Research Team had selected to pilot this project in Mkushi, adding that activities involving comparative effects of Nshima made from the orange maize against the common white maize nshima, had commenced in the district 4 months ago.

She explained that JHU had been conducting feeding exercises in various communities of this district over the past 4 months, saying that 2,000 children had been receiving daily Nshima made from vitamin A enriched orange maize.

She said that groups of children aged between 4 to 7 years, were being fed with orange maize nshima, whilst another group of children were being fed with white for comparative purpose.

Dr. Parmer said the research project’s feeding exercise had been earmarked to last for 6 months, saying that things were looking positive as the research awaited to conclude it findings from comparative feeding tests in March 2013.

She further mentioned that JHU’s attachment with Mkushi stretched back to 2009, when JHU’s preliminary research findings indicated that 54% of children in this district had deficiencies of Vitamin A.

She said that to this effect, JHU had piloted the research project in this district by using nshima made from Orange maize enriched with better Carotene, in the quest to find a lasting solution for Vitamin A deficiency.

Dr. Parmer said that there had been no reports of health disturbances or side effects regarding the children participating in the Orange maize feeding activities so far, adding that JHU was confident that Mkushi would make history from the project.

And JHU’s Project Investigator Professor Rolf Kemm observed that the cooperation from leadership and the community in Mkushi, had been played important part in helping to smoothen the operations of the research project.

Professor Kemm said that no project could succeed without the cooperation of local leadership and communities.

He said that JHU would continue to build on the trust and confidence shown by Mkushi residents, saying that JHU would uphold a credibility , transparency and objectivity in this research project.

Meanwhile, Mkushi Council Secretary (CS) Everty Ng’andu described the on-going research as beneficial for the district and the nation as whole.

Mr. Ng’andu, who represented Mkushi’s District Commissioner(DC) Christopher Chibuye, said that development could not be completed without science.

He said that it was therefore imperative for leadership as well as communities of the district to accord this scientific research project as much cooperation as possible.

JHU commenced its research operations for Vitamin A enriched Orange maize in November last year, and had been conducting feeding activities for children in more than 20 communities.


  1. It is a positive thing for our country to see that there are a lot of ongoing research projects in the country nowadays. I hope this project will be beneficial to our country.

  2. Let us hope that this is not one of those experiments were they want to hoodwink us with their covert operations and use our children as genea pigs. Our people should be involved and closely monitor these activities which seemly seem to be innocent of any advertent cover ups. You can never be sure with these people, they may even infect our population with unknown pathogens in the name of making history like was the case in Zaire the with the polio vaccine when they created the HIV virus. We can only hope and pray that they mean well, otherwise good luck. Thanks.

    • You are absolutely right…… the earlier we have people like you in the right places the better…… Is this the same area I have heard is breading hiv-bearing mosquitoes? This is not a joke… Scientists are buffled as to why mosquitoes don’t transmite HIV:..

    • I don’t trust such projects especially if they are headed by foreign nationals. Only Zambia researchers should be used to for research pertaining to such.

    • mosquitos do not transmit HIV because Macrophages are too small for probosci. it is in any bio book; thus, no scientists are baffled, intrinsically.

  3. We should have used children in Baltimore…we have no idea what side effects these experiments will produce…just saying

    • It is not an additive!! It is the substance found naturally & gives the orange colour to carrots. This maize has been Genetically modified (GMO) to incorporate within its genes, the Beta carotene moiety

    • Genetically Modified foods (GMF’s) are derived from genetically modified organisms , in this instance, the maize. So you saying they should test for GMO’s does not make sense…could you rephrase that?

    • This Orange maize was developed by the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI), an arm of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, working together with Zambian Seed Companies. It is certified non GMO!

  4. One would think that artificially enriching a natural product with another is genetically modifying that product. Maize has long been a preferred target for GMO testing perhaps because it’s not a delicacy on the American menu . It will be interesting to hear what our government’s view is on this. This is what late president Levy Mwanawasa refused and would not tolerate. Imagine if a Zambian scientist was to do a similar experiment on children in the US, what would the headlines be? maybe we should experiment with US burgers by enriching it with Zebra meat to cut down on obesity, see if that will go down well. Experimenting on children should be outlawed and made illegal. People should experiment with full consent of the subject not via a proxy as is the case with research on children.

  5. Interesting. I would have just focused on ensuring the locals add more sweet potatoes, carrots, paw paw, dark greens, liver and red peppers to the diet rather than create a new artificial blend. We can feed our people better than we do without playing genetic games particularly with a vitamin that affects genetic coding. As for using kids… me no smiley

  6. That maize looks gross whose kids are they using as guinea pigs? I agree this research should have been done in Baltimore.Africa can sort out its hunger problems without resorting to these Frankenstein foods the west wants to give us.

  7. I hope this is not GM products those folk in the US feed on nevertheless this is a good step forward as there is a high level of vitamin A deficiency in Zambia; for this reason Zambian Sugar is the only sugar in the world enriched with Vitamin A at production stage.

  8. In as much as this experiment is clearly intended for good, we should all be concerned –especially that :

    1. The majority of the subjects’ families are in all likelihood ignorant and thus not aware of the ‘potential’ risks involved.
    2. The human subjects are probably NOT appropriately compensated for taking such risks?

    If anyone knows of where such foreign scientists get ethical clearance approval, I’d appreciate it if they told us.

    • I agree with you my brother. The late Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe reminded u that whites never came here to help or civilise us but to exterminate us like they did the Aborigines and Red Indians. Kapwepwe explained that what stopped them from this mission of settling in Africa was malaria Ba mungwingwi balicusha sana abasungu they couldn’t make africa home like Australia and America

    • IMagine Cheetah Pan Kwa! Bafuno tipaya and yet these are the guys some of us Zambians take for heroes. There is one Bemba man who always blogs about how great these Americans are. Does he know the history of America?

  9. why cant they take their orange unga back to the USA and experiment on their kids……there are other sources of vitamin A, do we really need a new variety of maize to fight this?……………………Africa and asia are seen as cheap places to carry out their eperiments due to poverty and undereduaction of citizens.

  10. i thot Vit A is very unstable when heated… look at how we cook our Nshima (icikwangwa till it forms). what Percentage of the vitamin will remain? nil. this is just a way of introducing GMOs in the country. where are our researchers? sleeping i guess.

  11. I have a question, is the Dr’s. name ‘Parmer’ or “Palmer”? I can not find her in the database at Johns Hopkins but I did find a grad student by the name of Amanda C. Palmer in the school of Public Health (international Health).

  12. Funny how people don’t seem to realise that this is GMO! Not surprised then, that if indeed GMO’s were not allowed, due to our ignorance & current high rates of illiteracy, WHICH HAVE BEEN PERPETUATED BY THE VARIOUS GOVTS WE’VE HAD, The depts responsible are obviously manned by people who couldn’t understand the difference between GMO & “Vit A enrichment!”

    Enrichment can be of 2 ways: a] by grinding normal maize, then adding vit A to it.
    b] Genetically modifying the seed to incorporate the Vit a moiety (beta Carotene is the pre-cursor for Vit A, via enzyme action) into its genes, meaning all the seeds from this maize will always have it, when they flower, they will release pollen with these genes to convert the ordinary maize to also incorporate the new gene!

  13. The questions we then have to ask are mainly in two categories: a] Effects on humans – on face value, looks like having Vit A in a previously deficient diet is a good thing! What we don’t know is whether this genetic change will have no long term effects on other nutritious aspects of the maize.
    b] Effects on the Maize Plant: will this genetic modification affect the yield? Will it affect the growth of the plant e.g. make them stunted? Will it affect their resistance to pests? Will it attract new pests? etc etc

  14. We do not want any GMO rubbish here. The PF must ban these goons from messing up Zambia. Why don’t they do this on their own people in california?

  15. Iam aware of this project and its potential benefits to the people of Zambia. I however wish to state that Dr Amanda Palmer should have correctly pointed out the fact that this orange maize is not GMO but one that has been CONVENTIONALLY bred by OUR own ZARI (Zambia Agricultural Research Institute). Orange maize being used is basically maize enriched with B-Carotene, the Vitamin ‘A’ precursor .This is also a collaborative study involving John Hopkins University in the US and The Tropical Diseases Research Centre (TDRC) in Ndola. TRDC as an institution mandated by GOVERNMENT, to conduct research in diseases of public health importance on behalf of the Ministry of Health, will in this case assess the deficiency or improvement of this important micronutrient and other biomarkers after…

    • Could you please explain the “Enrichment process” employed here, rather than just using the word!!!! Are you telling us the seed is enriched e.g. by “coating” it with B-carotene, or is it by injecting it with B-carotene & by some magic these seeds start proliferating with B-caortene??? Do you really understand GMO??? Here is an excerpt on biofortification: These examples highlight several targets for metabolite engineering through QTL. As a result of a combined association-based mapping and linkage analyses in maize, Harjes et al. (2008) recently showed that variation at the lycopene epsilon cyclase (lcyE) and ?-carotene hydroxylase 1 (CrtRB1) loci are key targets for provitamin A biofortification. This work selected favorable lcyE and CrtRB1 alleles and developed inexpensive…

    • ….. molecular markers that are now being deployed by breeders in developing countries to produce maize grain with higher provitamin A levels (Harjes et al., 2008; Yan et al., 2010). Interestingly, these alleles conferred higher ?-carotene by preventing its metabolism, unlike many of the genetic engineering approaches that have focused on the enhancement of biosynthetic capacity.

  16. Guy Scott first you brought us yellow maize under chiluba now you want us to eat orange maize awe bane.that is nonsense test it on chimpanzi not zambian nshima should be white not orange

    • Scientists from Tropical Diseases Research Centre in Ndola are part of this study. You may google them and then visit or call them for expert advice.

  17. Take your YELLOW maize back to USA. In Zambia we eat white mealie-meal. These projects have failed before. The mainstay for Vitamin A supplementation should remain Sugar, which Zambia sugar and other sugar producing companies in Zambia are doing very well at the moment. Why are they insisting on yellow maize which people don’t want. They should have consulted with National Food and Nutrition Commission for lessons learnt from past experiences. It is a waste of time, unless they want to find an indirect way of bringing in Genetic-Modified Maize from USA. Feeding people in an experiment and promoting a change in eating behaviour are 2 different things. Finally, this reasearch has been done in Zambia before, I don’t know what the noise is all about. We are tired of con-scientists.

  18. DONT LET YOUR KIDS EAT THIS!! Americans are experimenting on us. Wake up people! Even in the US when they carry out their researches they do it on African Americans, these people are wicked you have no idea. Involving Zambian researchers is just a PR stunt to try and make this as look as genuine as possible. Have you not wondered why suddenly Zambia is #2 in the world with Cervical Cancer? Our our diet is one of the best in the world, people lead active lives, but yet still have such high cases of this disease. DON’T TRUST THEIR RESEARCH INCLUDING DRUG DONATIONS.

  19. unless i missed it, it is not a minor discrepancy that the article doesn’t mention the origin of the maize. bilderberg is bent on killing 6 billion people.

  20. Your concerns and reactions should be applauded but to Judge the merits or demerits of this press project on the press release may not be the most prudent way to go, but we can engage the named Govt wings involved to gain more insights then advise accordingly. Carotenoids occur naturally in maize, while white maize doesn’t have any carotenoids, yellow maize does. There are number of carotenoids in maize but those that can be converted to Vit A are beta carotene, alpha carotene and beta cryptoxanthine. Put simply, If breeding is based on a trait already existent in a species it is called conventional breeding as it employs the species normal reproductive processes. If the trait is engineered into the species (DNA Splicing, electron gun delivery) then it’s termed GMO

  21. Monitoring is best done when you have a couple of data to compare. A lot of blood pressure monitors have huge memory banks storing about 80 or more readings. If you’re going to buy a blood pressure monitor that’s so hard to use then might as well stick with sphygmomanometer and stethoscope.

  22. I’m a long time watcher and I just thought I’d drop by and say howdy there for your extremely first time.

  23. this corn isn’t gmo, you paranoid lunatics! it’s just one of the hundreds of old corn varieties that is grown in south america.

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