The [Zambian] National Biosafety Authority (NBA) has seized over 2,000 tonnes of genetically modified (GMO) maize seed.
Communications officer Sandra Lombe said the seed which was yet to be on the Zambian market had been seized and would be destroyed according to the biosafety Act No. 10 of 2007.
Lombe said the Authority randomly collected 74 samples of different varieties of maize from some farm fields and warehouses in Lusaka, Central, Southern and Northern provinces and subjected them to GMO test using Polymerase Chain Reaction.
“Of these 74 samples, from various farmers across the four provinces, four samples tested positive to genetic modification and have since been seized on site by the Authority. During the investigation the four samples were subjected to tests at local and international laboratories. The affected farmers have been directed to immediately confine, contain and secure the products as per the provisions of the biosafety Act,” she said. “The 2,187 tonnes seized products will be destroyed in the presence of the NBA officials and other relevant authorities. However, investigations into the matter have continued. We are also working with other relevant authorities on the same matter.”
Meanwhile, Lombe said the NBA has continued with the sampling and testing of the seed products from the farms and warehouses countrywide.
“We are happy with the cooperation we have received so far from the farmers, seed growers and seed companies. We are not only sampling from commercial farmers and seed companies but also small-scale farmers. Apart from maize seed we are also looking at soya beans. The biosafety Act prohibits any genetic modification activity on crops or livestock of strategic importance,” she said.
She said additionally the authority had continued with its monitoring, inspections and surveillance across the country.
Lombe said the presence of inspectors at the ports of entry had had a positive impact in the monitoring of the inflow of GMO products and products that may contain GMOs.
“We still remain committed to ensuring that any GMO product or a product which may contain GMOs authorized on the market is safe for humans, animals and the environment,” said Lombe.