NBA calls for responsible handling of genetically modified grain

Ashton Mutyavaviri

PERCEIVED grain shortages due to the El Nino-induced drought have triggered a stampede in grain imports prompting the National Biotechnology Authority (NBA) to warn citizens against importing genetically modified grain.

In a statement published in The Herald yesterday, NBA chief executive officer and registrar Dr Tonny Savadye said the authority was cognisant of the measures that have been put in place to ensure that the country imported grain for food, feed, or industrial processing, which include genetically modified (GM) grain.

“As you are aware, Zimbabwe is a non-genetically modified grain producing country. To that effect, the NBA wishes to advise all importers or handlers of imported genetically modified grain to adhere to Statutory Instrument (SI) 157 of 2018, (Food, Feed, Food and Feed Additives and Seed) (Imports, Export and Transit) Regulations,” said Dr Savadye.

The SI 157 of 2018 entails that anyone wishing to import genetically modified grain must be registered with the NBA and must have a valid biosafety import permit.

This SI is meant to ensure safe movement of food, feed, food and feed additives and seed into, out of and through Zimbabwe, protect human and animal health and the environment.

Furthermore, importers are also required to notify the NBA when their consignments of genetically modified grain enter the country to enable the authority to deploy inspectors to the site where the grain will be processed, he explained.

He further highlighted that the genetically modified grain processing was to be done under the strict supervision of the NBA.

Dr Savadye said it was an offence to import genetically modified grain without a permit and process it without NBA supervision.

“Previously, the law was targeting the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) but is now targeting all companies and individuals who intend to import grain,” he clarified.

Violating provisions in SI 157 of 2018 will result in the perpetrator being liable to a fine not exceeding level 12 or imprisonment not exceeding five years or both, he observed.

For crimes classified under Level 12, the fine will be US$ 2 000.

Meanwhile, the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) chairperson Mr Tafadzwa Musarara commended the Government’s policy of balancing the need for adequate maize and protecting the environment, adding that the association fully supported the regulatory work by the NBA.

“GMAZ sought this special dispensation and we stand ready to self-regulate ourselves. All our members are ready to fully cooperate and milling must be done under the NBA supervision,” said Mr Musarara.

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