GMO Act still to be implemented

By Rosalia David
August 2016
Prime Business

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) says the issue of GMO’s or Living Modified Organisms (LMO) related production will only be clear once the Bio safety Act 2006 is fully implemented.

Speaking to Prime Focus Magazine, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry spokesperson Margaret Kalo says, even though MAWF is one of the main stakeholder of the Bio Safety act that regulates GMO products, the National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) is still busy annexing the GMO regulations.

Kalo explains that, although government is waiting on NCRST to finalise the Bio safety Act 2006, MAWF has initiated the Namibia Food Safety Policy as well as the National Agriculture Policy as a backup plan in place to protect local farmers from GMO’s.
“Government in addition to Biosafety Act 2006, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry is prioritising the Namibia Food Safety Policy as well as the National Agriculture Policy to protect local farmers while the Act is still being completed,” she confirms.

According to Kalo, public awareness on the usage of  GMO’s  has also been put on top of their agenda as stated in Cartagena protocol article 23 and Biosafety Act 2006,however, awareness related to dealing with GMO or LMO products will only intensify once the Biosafety Act is fully implemented.  

Kalo says, “Once the Biosafety is completed, it will than indicate the GMOs percentage/ threshold in the agriculture products”.
The Bio Safety Act which was drafted after the Namibia Consumer Trust (NCT) previously sent maize products to South Africa for testing and the tests revealed that Namib Mills local product Top Score contained 1.09%, Bokomo’s White Star 2.75% and Tiger Brands which is known as ACE also contained 56.82% of genetically modified substances.

According to reports availed by NCRST, the objectives of the Act are to introduce a fair system and procedures for GMOs in Namibia and to provide a suitable level of protection to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity by taking into account potential risks to health and safety of humans and harmful consequences to the environment that could be posed by GMOs or genetically modified products as well as economic considerations.

With the aim of providing a suitable framework for GMO’s in the country, research also reveals that NCRST initiated a Biosafety Council and has appointed council members in 2014 as experts in the fields of environmental issues, public health and welfare and other related  agricultural issues, molecular biology or law.

The Biosafety act which is being administered by the Biosafety council as mentioned above will also make sure to provide a framework responsible for research, development and the use of genetic engineering as well as to manage the potential risks posed by or as a result of gene technology by regulating activities involving the development, production, use, import, export, transport, release into the environment, marketing and other uses of GMOs and genetically modified products.

When the act is completed.what it says

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