SOME corn flakes with traces of Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) being destroyed by Luanshya Municipal Council workers at a dump site
File:SOME corn flakes with traces of Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) being destroyed by Luanshya Municipal Council workers at a dump site

Position on GMOs and the Revised Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy of 2003

Zambia must continue to uphold the highest biosafety standards

Zambia’s approach to biosafety since the development of the Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy of 2003 has been cautious and aimed at ensuring high standards of human,environmental and socio-economic well-being. We are alarmed that the biotech industry is eroding this approach in favour of promoting and protecting the interests of that industry.We reject this shift.

Key concerns in the revised policy include:
• Abandoning the precautionary principle in favour of creating incentives for innovation for industry. This shift means moving from the aim of protecting against harm to promoting genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by reducing safety procedures;
• Shifting focus from “GMOs” to “biotechnology” thereby wrongly implying that GMOs are as safe as other forms of biotechnology such as conventional breeding or tissue culture;
• Removing provisions on liability and redress. These made producers of GMOs responsible for paying for and cleaning up damages arising from GMOs;
• Increasing the focus on intellectual property rights that are skewed in favour of corporations and away from communities;
• Broadly promoting the benefits of GMOs as described by the producers of GMOs,without interrogating the many problems associated with the technology, such as increased indebtedness of farmers, quality issues in Bt cotton, development of insect and weed resistance, loss of markets due to consumer rejection and many more;
• Falsely asserting that GMOs will benefit smallholders; and
• Dismantling current institutional arrangements with no clear replacement structure that clearly outlines new responsibilities, hierarchies and procedural pathways.

GMOs have primarily benefited transnational corporations and the wealthy, rather than the poor and hungry of the world.

Potential risks of GMOs must be recognised:

Governments around the world retain a precautionary stance to GMOs. There is an extensive body of literature that highlights many risks associated with GMOs, these include that:
• GMOs and related pesticides and herbicides pose health risks
• GMOs pose environmental risks
• GMOs are not appropriate for smallholders
• GMOs contribute to corporate control of the food system
• GMOs restrict access to markets thereby threatening livelihoods
Zambia Alliance for Agroecology and Biodiversity

Real solutions to hunger, poverty and degraded environment must be sought

The fact remains that Zambia is facing a series of crisis level challenges currently – socially,economically and ecologically. Poverty and inequality has risen exponentially. We are now ranked as one of the most malnourished countries in Africa. Women are affected the worst
across the board. These are long term developmental crises.

The majority of the our population rely on agriculture and local food system related livelihood activities – from production through to formal and informal retailing in both urban and rural areas. Very well-known problems farmers face in Zambia are lack of market, late delivery of
and cost of inputs, lack of accessible land, soil infertility, erratic rainfall and lack of irrigation,lack of infrastructure, lack of extension services, lack of social and infrastructural support to retailers and traders (exemplified by the recent cholera outbreak and trader dislocations). None of these problems that keep our population poor – and our youth malnourished and restless -are going to be solved by GMO proposed solutions.

Therefore we state:

If we are to face climate change and deal effectively with environmental degradation, poverty,hunger and the extensive malnutrition due to lack of diverse diets in Zambia, it is vital to invest in farming systems that are designed to create resilience and social equity.We fully agree with the findings of the 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) that GMOs have primarily benefited transnational corporations and the wealthy, rather than the poor and hungry of the world. The IAASTD found little solid evidence to support claims that GMOs have contributed to equitable or sustainable development or will do so in the future, but instead raised substantial questions about their social, health and environmental impacts. This is same stand that Late President Mwanawansa stood for years before, and the same principled stand that all subsequent Presidents have remained steadfast in upholding.

We have been assured by the New Minister of Agriculture that Government position on GMOs has not changed. Zambia as a nation remains opposed to GMOs – and citizens have a right to say no to GMOs if they so wish. Therefore – as people who have faith, in agriculture training institutions, civil society, farmers and consumers alike, we raise our voice of concern and distress about the attempts to amend the exemplary National Biosafety and Biotechnology Policy. We support our leaders in their efforts to prioritise the rights of small holder farmers in Zambia, over and above foreign neo-colonial agriculture systems that extract wealth from the poor and from the country, and undermine the health of our families,
our farming systems and our environment.

We ask Zambia’s leaders to remain strong; to resist and reject the unjust and unethical efforts of foreign pressure to weaken national laws for the benefit of corporate profits.

By Emmanuel Mutamba,
ZAAB Chairperson

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10 COMMENTS

  1. GMO’s cause cancer. Don’t let them take control of our food.It’s all for profit and not because they love or care for black Africans.

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    • If you want to see the effects of gmos on people’s health just visit developed nations and see how a 20 yr old girl looks like she’s in her mid 60s. These people are depressed because they can’t reclaim their bodies back. Others are still struggling to loose weight . For the ladies out there watch what you eat because no man will marry a young girl who looks like an oldie.

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    • Ernest wamba dia wamba
      In Serbia there is no GMO yet people are very depressed. Average salaries for everyday job 300 euros.What is real average net salary(not official statistics) in Zambia,i want to know?

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  2. Our seeds are under attack and this will complicate our food system. We should fight for policies to strengthen agro-ecology and the calls for GMO introduction should never be accepted in this country…

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  3. You fooools signed agreements with the devil Masanto for loans in exchange of supplying you their GMO seeds years ago …now the money has finished and the dates nearing you wake up from your docility. For all you know you may already be eating GMO Maize.

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    • We are already eating GMO maize. Lungu signed a secret deal with Monsanto for millions of dollars to allow GMO into Zambia for chinese farmers. That is what caused the cholera outbreak.

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  4. The downside of these so-called cheap foods is ill health.

    Fresh, raw or steamed food is the healthiest. No genetic modification required.

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  5. Emmanuel good job! Great article. Nose demon can’t understand you so he will act like one of them from the animalia kingdom. One finger is pointing at one supposedly “foool” but four fingers are pointing at the real foool himself.

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  6. Africans, we should rather starve to death than be killed off by greedy corporations. Viva Organic foods.

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