There is no clear formulated policy on genetically modified organisms in Zambia (GMO). However, what is clear is that you can't import GMO maize into the country.
Although the National Biosafety Authority through an act of 2007 is meant to oversee the importation of GMO products, there's very little sensitization on the limitations of importing these products into the country.
GMO crops are said to have higher yields of about 10 percent more than non GMO crops. But in the long run, they do have a negative effect on the soil because of the need to apply an increasing amount of chemicals to the crops to sustain these yields.
Most Zambians are not very conversant with issues pertaining to GMO. Let’s take maize for instance. Maize can only be crossed with another kind of Maize crop. It cannot be crossed with soya beans naturally.
But with genetic engineering, desirable traits or characteristics of soya beans can be transferred to Maize. This basically means crossing the genetic walls that separates the two species, Maize and Soya beans. And this is where the ethical debate on GMO comes in.
By 1999, there were about 40 million hectares covered with GM crops under commercial cultivation worldwide, though not all of them were food crops.
However, is Zambia GMO free? Let’s hope so. Most of the foods imported from abroad can contain some GM ingredient, so we need to be vigilant! Although the country is non-GMO, foreign foods containing GMO traits can easily be found on the shelves of our supermarkets.
While there is no long term or large scale tests to prove the safety of GMO, there are a number of things to be wary of like its negative effect on the soil and the ever increasing amount of chemicals applied to the crops to sustain these yields.
Other negative effects posed by GMO are said to be the harm to other organisms, the increased toxicity, the resistance to antibiotics and the likely demise of safe pesticides.
But through an act of parliament (2007), and the National Biosafety Authority, Zambia is free from GMO.
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