ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

26 April 2002

'Lusaka Has No Laboratory to Detect GM Products'
Brighton Phiri
The Post (Lusaka)
April 24, 2002

ZAMBIA has no laboratory to detect Genetically Modified (GM) agricultural products, revealed National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research senior scientific officer Dr. Dorothy Mulenga yesterday.

In a presentation at an environmental reporting workshop, Dr. Mulenga said Zambia had no regulations and policy to regulate the inflow of GM crops, which she said had long term negative effects on human bodies.

"Unless we regulate the inflow of GM crops, we are leading to serious problems," she said. Dr. Mulenga advised government to look out for GM crops as it scouts for relief maize. "We are in a peculiar situation, now that we are faced with hunger.

I can not say eat or don't eat GM maize," Dr. Mulenga said. "But what is saddening is that these long term effects of GM crops are not officially known even though scientific indications are there to show that they exist."

According to Dr. Mulenga, multinational companies producing GM crops were more interested in highlighting the need for GM crops in poverty reduction programmes while deliberately sitting on the negative information about GM crops. She disclosed that her institute had no government budgetary allocation to research on GM crops.

Dr. Mulenga said the issue of GM crops in the country should be addressed by all concerned parties, among them policy makers, decision makers, traditional leaders, religious, consumers, civil society and academicians. She said Zambia must put in place administrative structures, guidelines and regulations to monitor the GM crops. "It would not be advisable to introduce GM crops before this process is completed," she said.

Dr. Mulenga disclosed that her institutions had since presented a proposed draft copy of the policy to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Vocational Training. According Dr. Mulenga, the draft copy was yet to be presented before an inter-ministerial committee for considerations. She urged the NGO movement to lobby for legislation which should guide the inflow of GM crops. However, Dr. Mulenga dispelled fears of GM crops existing in the country.

"At least we have not yet recorded any cases of GM crops," Dr. Mulenga said.

"So people shouldn't panic and get frightened."

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