GENET archive


3-Food: Is Zimbabwe importing GMO maize?

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  Zim not importing genetically modified food -- Muta
SOURCE: The Herald, Zimbabwe
DATE:   21 Feb 2006

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Zim not importing genetically modified food -- Muta

THE Minister of State for National Security responsible for Lands, Land
Reform and Resettlement, Cde Didymus Mutasa, has dismissed as hogwash,
claims on the Internet that Zimbabwe had changed heart and started
importing genetically modified foods from Argentina.

In a statement yesterday, Cde Mutasa said the country's official position
still stood.

"To be honest, I have never heard of that. They would have to consult
with me but no one has done so. That policy (against unmilled genetically
modified maize) is steadfast, we continue to maintain it. It has not been
reviewed and the Cabinet has not changed its position," he said.

Zimbabwe and many countries in the region and abroad are suspicious of
genetically modified foods, particularly concerning the health of
consumers. In recent weeks, press reports were saying that the US was set
to coerce African nations to accept GMO foods following the World Trade
Organisation (WTO)'s ruling that the European Union was breaking its
rules by barring GMO food and seed entry into that region.

Earlier this month, Zimbabwe's National Economic Consultative Forum, in
conjunction with the Biosafety Board of Zimbabwe, held discussion series
on the implementation of biotechnology for enhancing agricultural output,
which featured an American expert on the issue of genetic modification,
Prof Tom de Gregori.

The outcome of the meeting was inconclusive on whether the country is to
change its stance on GMOs.

                                 PART II
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TITLE:  Zimbabwe Importing GMO Maize from Argentina - Trade
SOURCE: Reuters, by Ed Stoddard
DATE:   20 Feb 2006

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Zimbabwe Importing GMO Maize from Argentina - Trade

JOHANNESBURG - Zimbabwe is importing unmilled, genetically-modified (GMO)
yellow maize from Argentina, despite an official ban on such products,
trading sources and other monitors told Reuters on Friday.

But a senior Zimbabwean minister said his government remained opposed to
unmilled maize and said he was unaware of such shipments.

"Zimbabwe is importing yellow maize from Argentina which is known to be
GMO - one vessel is coming into port now to offload 7,000 tonnes in
Maputo, Mozambique, and 7,400 tonnes in Beira," said one trader.

The trader said another ship was being loaded in Argentina with a similar
cargo also destined for Zimbabwe.

Another source who monitors food shipments in the region confirmed the
same details to Reuters.

Like many African countries, Zimbabwe is suspicious of GMO foods on the
grounds that they have not been adequately tested. In the past it has
said it would accept only milled GMO foodstuffs to avoid cross-breeding
with local crops.

"This is definitely unmilled, bulk maize," said the trader.


But Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, in charge of land reform,
resettlement and food security, told Reuters that he was not aware of the

"To be honest I have never heard of that. They would have to consult with
me but no one has done so. Maybe they might be ordering it for livestock
but I don't think so either," he said.

"That policy (against unmilled GMO maize) is steadfast, we continue to
maintain it. It has not been reviewed and my (cabinet) colleagues have
not changed their position," he said.

What no one denies is Zimbabwe's pressing food needs.

Aid agencies have said about 4.3 million Zimbabweans require food aid
until at least the April harvest because of a scorching drought last year.

But critics say Zimbabwe's controversial seizures of white-owned farms
for redistribution to landless blacks have also hampered food production.

Maize from Argentina seems to be the flavour of the month.

Even regional breadbasket South Africa has imported some yellow maize
from Argentina because it is cheaper than the locally grown product.

The World Food Programme has said higher South African maize prices have
forced a rethink in its plans and it is looking elsewhere to buy supplies.

South Africa's March contract for yellow maize closed three rand higher
on Friday at 950 rand ($156.4) a tonne.

(Additional reporting by MacDondald Dzirutwe in Harare)


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