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6-Regulation: Importation of GMOs comes under scrutiny in Tanzania



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TITLE:  Importation of GMOs comes under scrutiny
SOURCE: Financial Times, Tanzania, by Beatrice Philemon
        http://www.ippmedia.com/ipp/financial/2005/10/04/51114.html
DATE:   4 Oct 2005

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Importation of GMOs comes under scrutiny

In December this year, Tanzania will launch the National Biosafety
Regulations (NBR) to control the import of Genetically Modified Organisms
(GMOs) products .

Dr Shaban Mwinjaka, National Coordinator of the National Biosafety
Framework project in the Vice President Office, told the Financial Times
last week that the preparations for the implementation of the regulations
governing GMOs are almost complete.

The core function of the national biosafety regulations would be to
strengthen institutions that would be dealing with GMO products and
addressing issues regarding the use of modern biotechnology particularly
on biosafety issues such as health, environmental and socio- cultural and
ethical impacts.

Other core functions would be to manage and control the risks associated
with the import of GMOs.

The measures necessary include the regulation of the handling, transport,
packaging and identification of GMOs.

Other core functions would be to coordinate activities and programs on
research and development and their applications.

Allocating appropriate resources for the upgrading of capacities and
capabilities to effectively regulate the GM technology and its products
is also inclusive.

According to him, during the implementation of the (NBR), the Vice
President's office would grant funds to buy equipment, which would be
used in promoting biosafety and modern biotechnology for farmers and
other stakeholders.

Training will be offered to experts who will be educating farmers,
businesspersons, and other people willing to use modern biotechnology in
agricultural activities.

"We would provide training on this technology because, the level of
public awareness on biotechnology and biosafety in the country is
extremely low even amongst the scientific community," he said.

Training experts on biosafety technology and modern biotechnology would
assist farmers to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of GMOs
and modern biotechnology.

"I am saying this because modern biotechnology is an emerging tool with
the potential to improve human and animal health, agriculture, industrial
and agricultural production as well as environmental protection," he noted.

The development and application of modern biotechnology have been
associated with both opportunities and concerns over the risks of GMOs to
human and animal health, biodiversity and the environment.

Furthermore, modern technology brings new challenges for the policy and
regulatory framework for the year ahead, he said, noting that close
cooperation on biotechnology, biosafety issues and trade at the national,
regional and international levels is crucial and should be promoted.

"In order to conduct work of a highly technical nature, such as modern
biotechnology in a manner that is safe, and which contributes to
sustainable economic development, Tanzania has to make sure it does not
perpetuate economic dependency without the necessary local capacity to
deal with it," he said.

He said that the issue of the market for GMOs is very crucial in
connection with traditional exports, and most of the country's currently
exported crops are non- genetically modified crops whose market is the
European Union.


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