The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) has granted four companies new permits to import products that may contain Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
NBA Chairperson Dr. Paul Zambezi explained that the permits have been granted to Gatbro Distributors, Pick n Pay, Southern National Import and Export Limited and Choppies Super Stores market.
Dr Zambezi said this follows a Board decision at the just ended Board meeting held on 5th July 2019 in Lusaka.
In May 2019, the Scientific Advisory Committee of the NBA recommended to the Board the issuance of permits after risk assessment was conducted on the products that may contain GMOs and were found to be safe for human consumption.
Among the products which Gatbro intends to import include Bokomo Otees, Bokomo Pro- nutro, Instant porridge, Bokomo cornflakes, Bisto and Knor soups.
While Pick N Pay will bring in 72 different varieties of food and feed and these include brands of Bobtail dog feed; (medium, large, steak, Feline cuisine- adult chicken flavours) and No Name Popped rice, Knorr soups, Ace instant porridge, Kellogs cornflakes, Imana Soya and Imana gravy roast chicken flavor.
Others are Top Class soup, Simba Doritos, Bakers snack time, Cheese and some other PnP branded products which may contain GMOs.
Southern National Import and Export limited will import various pre mixes including bread mix, soft roll mix and Bakels 15% soft mix among others and Choppies will import various flavours of Ace porridge.
“As the NBA we would like to reiterate that food safety is very important and we cannot allow any food or feed which is not safe for human consumption nor for use as animal feed to be on the market. As such products which have been allowed to be on the Zambian market by the NBA have been established to be safe for consumers,” Dr. Zambezi said.
The NBA is currently reviewing other permit applications which are at various stages.
Since the beginning of this year the Authority has renewed six permits to place on the market products which may contain GMOs.
“The six are for; Cold Chain, Zambian Brands, Comox Trading Limited, Horizon Distributors and Innscor Distributors. To ensure compliance permits to sell products that may contain GMOs are valid for six months.”
Meanwhile, the NBA has granted 45 permits for import and placing on the market and these are three research permits, registered five Institutional Biosafety Committee, and issued four Non- GM clearance certificates for export from 2016 to date.
Dr. Zambezi highlighted some of the successes scored during the tenure of office, expressing delight with the Authority for further building capacity in risk assessment enhancing regulation and decision making.
“During our term of office, which comes to an end this year, the NBA also initiated the process for the review of the Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy, developed the Inspectors manual and draft guidelines on Contained Use and Confined Field Trials, rolled out inspections and appointed External Inspectors,” he said.
The Board Chairperson also noted that the Authority had increased public awareness, education and sensitization programmes, engaged various stakeholders including government officials, Parliamentarians, media and the general public on its mandate, functions and operations.
In another development, NBA Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Lackson Tonga observed that there was considerable positive response from the distributors and traders as regards to compliance levels with respect to provisions of the Biosafety Act No. 10 of 2007.
“This can be seen in the willingness by the distributors and traders to renew permits and also in the increase in permit applications by relevant clients that we continue to receive,” he said.
This is contained in a statement by National Biosafety Authority Communications Officer Sandra Lombe.