Govt urged to embrace GMOs

HARARE - Zimbabwe has been urged to embrace genetically modified (GM) crops to improve harvests and reduce crop production costs.

This comes as government has remained rigidly averse to GM crops, commonly known as GMOs, despite genetic engineering making a rapid entry into agriculture in other African countries such as South Africa and Botswana over the past decade.

Eminent Zimbabwean scientist Christopher Chetsanga, who is a member of the African Academy of Sciences, told a Non-Aligned Movement (Nam) Science and Technology technical meeting on industrial biotechnology last week that government’s tough anti-GMO policy was not based on any scientific study and therefore erroneous.

“I encourage the government to adopt GMOs. They are the answer to the world’s hunger crisis and they are the future of food production everywhere,” said the leading biochemist, who is the key speaker at the conference, which brought together the sharpest biotechnology minds from Nam’s 121 member states.

“I have been told several times that the ban on GMOs is on health grounds, but I have worked in the United States before in this field and I can safely tell you that US people have been eating GMOs for over 20 years and there are no such health fears.

“Instead, there has been significant interest in making GMO plants more nutritious, to help combat nutritional deficiencies and to help ensure that people are healthy.

“This means that GMOs manipulated in this way could be significantly healthier than their non-GMO counterparts,” Chetsanga said.

The call comes at a time when campaigning against the technology is at its most strident, with the most adamant critic of GMO products being Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development minister Joseph Made.

“The position of the government is very clear, we do not accept GMOs,” he recently told the National Assembly.

Deputy minister in the ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Godfrey Gandawa emphasised the government’s position in an immediate response to Chetsanga while officially opening the conference.

“The government’s position remains the same; GMOs are not allowed in the country. We challenge scientists to prove us wrong on health issues. There is need for a thorough research if that policy is to change in future,” he said.

Proponents of genetically modified crops argue that the new transgenic crops improve yields, reduce pesticide use and increase food security, especially in developing countries, a promise that most countries facing food shortages want to believe. 

“With so much hunger out there, this potential is one of the most heavily promoted arguments for the use of GMOs, and with good reason,” Chetsanga said.

He said the GMO regime is just a new agriculture revolution, equating it to major revolutions in agriculture and in the way that people produce food.

“While GMOs may seem extreme, they are simply the next major change to agricultural processes,” he said.

The most popular biotech crops currently being grown in Africa include potatoes, sugarcane, maize, cotton cassava, rice, bananas, and cucumber, wheat, sorghum and water melons.

Comments (4)

can

w - 28 August 2017

Shame on you proffessor. we had our grant parents vaisvika 100 years without any form of cancer attack, now young people have cancer because of modern diseases and you have the guts to say that rubbish

Mr Chokwadi - 28 August 2017

If you are interested in this subject plaese download "Planting the Future" by the European Academies Science Advisory Council 2013. it is one of the best reviews on GMO's

Robert Wager - 28 August 2017

I for one support the continued blockade on GMOs being grown in Zimbabwe, the scientist mentioned in this report clearly does not know what he is talking about, he has a narrow minded view of the benefits Vs the negatives of GMOs .the truth is gMOs offer a short term return , they allow u to grow a lot now , but leave u wide open to numerous new entities in the future. for a better undersatnding i will list down countries that have implemented GMOs you can view the problems they now face which include ..toxic land , toxic genome that they pass on to thier children leading to children with serious health issues at an early stage , plants that animals cant eat and if they do ,animals that poison people at a genetic level . Africa is a natural continent, let not take snake oil cures for problems sold to us by Europians who give the charge to immoral scientists that can be bought for a few dollars selling our future and our children future so they can have a flash car in the now..keep Zimbabwe organic never sell your souls for a promise of a better future that will never be ...Please google the following for better understanding -Arpad Pustzpie (Scientist who first investigated GMOs independently) -Effect of BT Cotton in India : BT Cotton Poisons animals and Plants -Food Inc (Youtube) : documentary on how Toxic GMO food is -World according to Monsanto : documentary on the GMO manufacture and how they have destroyed the worlds natural food supply Monsanto : evil cooperation that deals in GMOs -Round Up /Round up ready GMO plants should u know Mr Chatesnga kindly tell him to actually look into what he preaches coz he could unintentionally kill the future of Zimbabwe for a dollar

Chokuda - 18 October 2017

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