LUSAKA, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Consumers groups in Zambia on Friday took a swipe at a state-run institution that regulates Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for allowing the importation of GMO foods.
On Thursday, the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) granted three conditional distributing new permits to import products that may contain GMOs.
The regulator said the decision was arrived at after risk assessment was conducted by an advisory committee who later recommended to the board after finding that various products were found to be safe for human and the environment.
But the Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA) and the Africa Consumer Union (ACU) said it was unfortunate that the regulator has decided to allow for the importation of GMOs foods despite well-known position that the safety of GMOs was still a matter of contention and controversy in many parts of the world.
"We condemn this unwise move which ignores the wishes of the Zambian people to maintain a GMO-free country. NBA appears to undertake unilateral decisions in the interest of global food giants not the Zambian people," the organizations said in a joint statement.
The two organizations have since demanded that the permits granted should be canceled and that the board of the regulator should be dissolved because it was allegedly peddling selfish interests.
On Thursday, a farmers' body revealed that there was a ploy by some organizations to legitimize GMOs in the country.
The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), an umbrella body of both commercial and small-scale farmers, said it was aware of maneuvers by some organizations that were trying to propagate the importation of GMOs into the country.
But the regulator said the law allows for importation of GMOs under strict supervision and verification and that so far a total of 24 applications for placing products of GMOs on the Zambian market have been authorized through issuance of permits.