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PLANTS: Ignorance reigns as GMOs take root in Tanzania

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Ignorance reigns as GMOs take root
SOURCE: IPP Media, Tanzania
AUTHOR: The Guardian, Tanzania, by Austin Beyadi
DATE:   22.05.2007

Ignorance reigns as GMOs take root

There is need to create awareness about genetically-modified organisms  
because biotechnology is rapidly developing with more GMOs being  
released into the environment and causing risks to animal and human  

The remarks were made yesterday by the Director of Environment in the  
Vice President's Office, Erick Mugurusi.

”Information should be availed to the public on GMOs that have been  
received or denied authorization into the country,” he said.

Speaking during a national biosafety framework implementation workshop  
held in Bagamoyo yesterday, Mugurusi said there was a need for  
establishment of a proper mechanism to create awareness so as to  
enable the public participate in the implementation of biosafety  

He said currently, the country was experiencing lively public debates  
on a wide range of issues related to science and technology but not on  
GMOs, although these were becoming a major health and environmental  
concern globally.

"The level of public awareness on biotechnology and biosafety in  
Tanzania is extremely low, even amongst the scientific community," he  

Magurusi added that possible explanations for the low awareness  
included the recent nature of GMO technology and limited knowledge at  
all levels on benefits and risks associated with GMOs.

He said it was difficult to collect statistics on the impact of GMOs  
to public health and environment since there was low expertise about  

He said Tanzania lacked inspection equipment, which could have been  
installed at all border points to prevent entry of GMOs into the  

He said competent authorities and other institutions responsible for  
making biosafety decisions should promote public awareness, education,  
and participation in research, development, handling and transboundary  

He said the framework would also establish a science-based, holistic,  
transparent decision making system and integrated participation so  
that Tanzania could benefit from modern biotechnology while minimizing  
the inherent environmental, health and socioeconomic risks.

He said that Tanzania could regulate the transport of GMOs through its  
territories and make available to the Biosafety Clearing House (BCH)  
any decision regarding the transit of GMOs through its territory.

He said the national biosafety framework would facilitate the  
regulation of modern biotechnology within the country.

He added that the framework also entailed building capacity in risk  
management, assessment, detection of GMOs and participation in  
decision-making process.

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