George Maponga Masvingo Bureau
Government has been urged to lift the ban on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as part of efforts to improve food security. The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development said it was time Zimbabwe lifted the ban on the consumption of GMOs if the country was to win the battle against hunger.
Speaking on the sidelines of a workshop held over the weekend to discuss the proposed Biotechnology Policy, chairman of the Portfolio Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Dr Peter Mataruse said his committee wanted to carry out more research to establish the merits and demerits of GMO consumption in Zimbabwe.
Dr Mataruse said the Biotechnology Act did not outlaw the consumption of GMOs although Government had banned them.
He said there was consensus within his committee that Zimbabwe should start embracing GMOs since most of the imported food from countries such as South Africa contained GMO products.
The committee would continue to engage Government and other stakeholders to ensure the country appreciates the importance of embracing GMOs to enhance food security, Dr Mataruse said.
“There is general agreement within our committee that it is time Zimbabwe embraces the use of GMOs especially in the wake of frequent droughts that are causing widespread food shortages in our country. This country will draw a lot of benefits from the use of GMOs to improve food security because every year we are wasting millions of dollars in food importation yet we can circumvent the problem by embracing genetically-modified organisms,’’ he said.
“We cannot appear to be against GMOs as country yet most of the products that we import from South Africa such as soya beans and maize, for example, are genetically-modified organisms,’’ he added.
Dr Mataruse said Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development was maintaining the ban on the use of GMOs on a wrong premise.
“I am a scientist myself and I feel there is really nothing wrong if we use GMOs as a country. The benefits of using them far outweigh the disadvantages. We can be food secure as a nation if we embrace GMOs,’’ he said.
He said his committee would continue to engage Government and other stakeholders to ensure the country appreciates the importance of embracing GMOs to enhance food security.
Government banned the use of GMOs on the grounds that although they were cheaper to produce they contaminated the environment and harmed bio-diversity.