Thursday, June 13, 2024

NBA Zambia Assures Safety of Genetically Modified Maize in Imported Mealie Meal

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The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) Zambia has assured the nation that the mealie meal being imported from South Africa produced from genetically modified maize is safe for consumption.

NBA Scientific Advisory Committee Chairperson Dr. Sody Munsaka has said the authority is working with other Government institutions to ensure that mealie meal that may contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be imported and transited through the country is from the maize varieties that have been authorized by the NBA.

The Authority, working together with the Ministry of Agriculture, has been notifying anyone importing mealie meal or any other products which may contain GMOs on the need to obtain authorization from the NBA.

The NBA has conducted risk assessments on maize and soya varieties from South Africa and have been found to be safe for human and animal consumption.

The Authority has previously granted permits for products made from GMO maize or which may contain GMOs to various distributors and traders in the country.

“We have conducted risk assessments on soya beans and all maize varieties from South Africa and these have been found to be safe for humans, animals and the environment. Therefore, all products including mealie meal produced from the assessed maize varieties are safe for human and animal consumption,” Dr. Munsaka said.

The NBA was established under the Biosafety Act No. 10 of 2007. Through the Act the NBA regulates the research, development, application, importation, export, transit, contained use, release or placing on the market of any GMO/LMO whether intended for use as a pharmaceutical, food, feed or processing, or a product of a GMO also to ensure that any activity involving the use or a product of GMO prevents any socio-economic impact or harm to human, animal health and the environment in the country.

“Among the products containing GMO maize or Soya beans from South Africa that the Authority has permitted into the country include cornflakes, some soups such as Bisto, premixes, spices, some biscuits, Starch, maize grit and dog food.”

Risk Assessment is the process through which the Scientific Advisory Committee ascertains the safety of products before the Authority grants a permit or rejects an application.”

“Therefore, we would like to assure the general public that the mealie meal from the assessed maize by the Scientific Advisory Committee is safe, even if it is spilled or dropped in the country or people accidentally consumed it, it cannot cause any harm based on the comfort ascertained through risk assessment,” he said.

Some of the functions of the NBA include processing notifications and applications of GMOs or products of GMOs into the country, in accordance with the requirements of the Biosafety Act, promoting public awareness and education concerning the activities regulated under the Act such as risk assessment, risk management and authorization processes; keeping any GMO or any product of a genetically modified organism under review and to ban its handling or release in Zambia.

The Government last week implemented a statutory instrument that suspends the duty on imported mealie meal, when imported by a holder of an import permit issued by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The measure is aimed at addressing the shortage of mealie meal in some parts of the country and is expected to increase the availability of the commodity.

The suspension of duty on imported mealie meal is part of the Customs and Excise (Suspension) (Maize (Corn) Flour) Regulations, 2023, which were gazetted and came into operation on 6th April, 2023. This measure is expected to stabilize mealie meal prices and ensure that citizens have access to affordable food.

In recent months, citizens have been queuing for hours to buy a bag of mealie meal. The shortage has led to high prices, with a bag of mealie meal fetching a minimum of K250. Many citizens are frustrated and angry over the situation, which they believe is due to government officials and aligned ruling party businessmen engaging in smuggling activities.

10 COMMENTS

  1. NBA is a safety net. If government is importing to export how are they sure that the imported maize won’t “spill over” and end up being consumed in Zambia? NBA was formed to avoid GMO products consumtion in Zambia and by permitting this passage, Zambians are indirectly allowed to eat as well. It therefore calls for disbanding this purposeless Authority.

  2. Everything is political. Chamufumya ku malaiti nomba chamutwala ku mataba. Politics is what has retarded Zambia’s development. Even professional people will toe the political line for fear of losing their miserable jobs.

  3. I predicted all this nonsense with a hope that none of it were true. if our politicians think that they can get away with putting our lives at risk, then why shouldn’t we also get away with putting theirs at risk too? When you forget that you are the servant of the people, custodian of the rule of law and then act with impunity then surely the rule of citizens arrest should be applied? Theft, thuggery, deception and fraud is not politics.

  4. nowander his has his people own at all strategic institutions so that they simply implement what He says. sadly after change of govt all these will have to go in and cry ati tribal witch hunt. Muka kakwa ba mumbwe…

  5. The Authority was formed to act as an antiGMO police. Now that we expect GMO’s, even as transit goods. We must either amend or alternately invalidate and throw away this NBA before it becomes a hindrance to current government programmes. A simple SI or any Legislative Document can do in desperate situations.

  6. The nice thing about science, unlike religion and dogma, is that things are always changing. Surely there is now enough data to evaluate the efficacy of GMOs in certain products. We should have trust in the NBA assuring the safety of the maize from SA. Also, citizens must read around the subject and understand what is modified in the maize as opposed to just demonizing the concept of genetic engineering in itself. That is tantamount to throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    • That is progressive thinking, KALOK.

      Instead of grz thinking like John Rambo’s “no man; no law; no ‘wooor’ can stop him”, we must change laws first.

      Science has evolved. Laws are dynamic, they too, should never stagnate or lag behind.

      In this case, GMO’s are still illegal in Zambia dispute the smokescreen, veneer and disguise from NBA.

  7. Very bad and shameful for this oragan, and PF BOUNCE BACK all these institutions will be castigated and sentence to jail for life.

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