News Column

Gmo Research, Technology 'Confined to Labs'

June 23, 2014

TANZANIA allows research into Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) to promote scientific research but has not yet permitted use of products, the government has clarified.

Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, Adam Malima said in Parliament that the government had allowed research into GMO technology on crops to promote research for better yields.

He was responding to a supplementary question from Ms Halima Mdee (Kawe-Chadema) who wanted to know how the government was prepared to protect farmers from effects of the use of GMO technology on crops. The Kawe legislator had accused the deputy minister for promoting the use of GMOs in Tanzania.

The deputy minister said he promoted the use of science and scientific research and not the use of the products of GMO technology because the research were vital for development of the country. "Yes, I promote science and scientific research and not biotechnology use in the country," he said.

He said the government had allowed GMO research on major food and cash crops including banana, coffee, rice, cotton and cassava.

He said the scientific research into GMO technology on crops was vital to promote productivity and counter current global challenges including those brought about by climate change.

Tanzania and other African countries are currently a battleground of the fight over the use of GMO technology with multinational seed companies lobbying to governments of African countries to allow its use and activists calling on the government to resist pressure.

Tanzania allows research into GMOs technology but it is confined in laboratories. It has not allowed field trials for genetically modified plants and under strict liability regulation, farmers cannot cultivate crops developed by the new biotechnology.

However, there are views that Tanzania is slowly yielding to the pressure and is progressively opening doors for GMO technology.

The Deputy Speaker, Mr Job Ndugai said no one could block the use of science research to counter global challenges including climatic change and diseases. "GMO is there to stay," he chipped in.

Earlier, Mr Malima said there have been debates on the potential impact of genetic engineering on human beings, animals and the environment.

He said there have been unfounded claims that genetic engineering leads to disastrous impact on the environment and farmers to be held at ransom by a few multinational seed companies.

The deputy minister said research by various organizations including European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisations (WHO) had proved the use of genetic engineering had no negative effects.

He was responding to a question from Mr Murtaza Mangungu (Kilwa North- CCM) who asked how the government was prepared to provide education on the GMO that has so far caused confusion to the people.

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Source: AllAfrica

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