January 27, 2005

GMO goods to be accepted

Tanzania is drafting laws to pave way for the introduction of genetically-modified foods, which anti-GMO campaigners and some African nations fear may harm people or damage local crops. The East African country of 35 million is frequently beset by food shortages due to recurrent drought and crop failure. "It is one of the breeding methods that we have to eventually adopt. We are working on rules and regulations which will govern the introduction of genetically modified technology into the country," agriculture minister Charles Keenja said.

Most Europeans tend to be wary of GMO crops and foods, but growers and consumers in the US are more accepting. In Africa, where food shortages are frequent, some countries have banned genetically- modified food imports, while others have turned to them because of the potential for hardier crops. The issue is further complicated because some food aid given in Africa can contain GMO products.

The minister said the legislative process could take until the end of the year, at which time Tanzania would decide what types of food it would import. There are fears that the technology could bring in genetic material harmful to Tanzanian crops, the environment or human health, Keenja said. "We are trying to be careful so that we do not import the adverse effects of the technology. So eventually, we know we shall have to adopt, but we want to be careful," he noted. (New Vision, Kampala)


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