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POLICY & REGULATION: Zimbabwe’s parliamentarians reject plans to lift restrictions on GMOs





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TITLE:   MPS RESIST MINISTER?S PLAN

SOURCE:  The Financial Gazette, Zimbabwe

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.financialgazette.co.zw/top-stories/8881-mps-resist-ministers-plan.html

DATE:    01.07.2011

SUMMARY: "MEMBERS of Parliament have resisted plans by Science and Technology Minister, Heneri Dzinotyiwei, to facilitate the possible lifting of restrictions on Genetically Modified Organisms. [...] Parliamentary Committee on Industry and Commerce [...] said in its report: ?GMO foods should be phased out gradually in a manner that recognises the fragile state of the economy and the multiple disadvantages of the foods.? Dzinotyiwei?s observation that GMOs are safe is in stark contrast to the position by Agriculture, Irrigation and Mechanisation Minister, Joseph Made, who has said they would have long-term negative effects on yields."

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MPS RESIST MINISTER?S PLAN

MEMBERS of Parliament have resisted plans by Science and Technology Minister, Heneri Dzinotyiwei, to facilitate the possible lifting of restrictions on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). In March this year, Dzinotyiwei told the House of Assembly during a question and answer session that established international institutions such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Institute for Genetic Engineering and Bio-technology have all undertaken research that shows that there is no need to shun Genetically Modified products.

?The truth of the matter is that from a strictly scientific position, those products have not been seen to be unhealthy in any way or to interfere with the environment in any way. Established institutions  that include WHO, FAO and the Institute for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology have all undertaken research in the area and have confirmed that there is no reason to fear those products,? said Dzinotyiwei.

?Accordingly, strictly from a scientific angle, we support the use of GMOs, but as I have indicated, this is an area we have to consult with other players in the sectors of agriculture, health and environment to come up with a common position. So, yes, the review is taking place.?

But in its latest report, the Parliamentary Committee on Industry and Commerce said GMOs have multiple disadvantages.

The committee added that while maize cannot be imported into the country as GMO, mealie meal was being brought into the country illegally. As a result, it recommended that every treated product must be phased out.

?The officials also submitted that although imported finished products were welcome in the short run, this posed intense competition for local products.

?There was therefore need to protect consumers from the dangers of GMOs and adulated products,? the committee, chaired by Movement for Democratic Change Chikomba Central lawmaker Moses Jiri, said in its report.

?GMO foods should be phased out gradually in a manner that recognises the fragile state of the economy and the multiple disadvantages of the foods.? Dzinotyiwei?s observation that GMOs are safe is in stark contrast to the position by Agriculture, Irrigation and Mechanisation Minister, Joseph Made, who has said they would have long-term negative effects on yields.

Made has previously led the government?s rejection of GMO maize by donors, especially from the United States, even during times of hunger induced by drought and policy failures.