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2-Plants: Comesa urges member countries to wary of GMOs

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TITLE:  Comesa urges member countries to wary of GMOs
SOURCE: The Herald, Zimbabwe, by Sanday Chongo-Kabange
DATE:   Jul 25, 2003

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Comesa urges member countries to wary of GMOs

THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Secretariat
has advised member countries to be conscious of the implications of
accepting the use of biotechnology in food production.

Comesa acting secretary general, Sindiso Ngwenya said members should also
take into account the effects of genetically modified foods to human
health before adopting biotechnology.

Ngwenya said: "Comesa member states should ensure that the issue of what
happens with the people that consume genetically modified products is
resolved. Biotechnology has its good and bad sides. We need to
distinguish these comparisons."

He added that member countries must also ensure that the issue of cross-
pollination and the implications that arise to the environment during the
use of biotechnology were addressed. Ngwenya was guest speaker at a two-
day Comesa media seminar held at Ibis Gardens, about 12 kilometres from Lusaka

The acting secretary general also expressed fear that Comesa countries
risk losing their largest market for export, which is the European Union
if they adopted biotechnology in their food production.

"In your reporting you should also let the public know the dangers of
cross-pollination to the environment. If this is not addressed, we might
lose our largest market for exports in the EU," Ngwenya said.

Comesa is a 19-member regional grouping that advocates and promotes inter
and intra trade of goods and services to improve the economies of some of
the worlds poorest nations.

Meanwhile, when quizzed in an interview, what impact Namibia's pullout
from Comesa Ngwenya said:

"I can not ascertain the immediate impact that has been borne from
Namibia's withdrawal from Comesa. I can only assure you that Namibia will
lose a lot of revenue earnings when we start implementing the customs union".

He added that he could not speak on behalf of the Namibian government as
to why it relinquished its membership from the common market.


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