05 Nov 2014 10:10am
WINDHOEK, 05 NOV (NAMPA) Maize meal containing genetically-modified organisms (GMO), and without a label which would give consumers a choice is still available on local supermarkets shelves.
The Namibia Consumer Trust (NCT)s Executive Director Michael Gaweseb told Nampa on Wednesday that despite repeated tests conducted on products, GMO presence has proven to be persistent.
The NCT sent samples of three maize-based products for testing to a lab at the University of the Free State in South Africa in early 2013, and again later in that year. The tests revealed that Ace Instant Porridge contains 57 per cent genetically-modified maize, while the popular White Star Maize contains 2.75 per cent genetically-modified maize, and Top Score Maize Meal contains over one per cent genetically-modified maize.
The NCTs laboratory tests have proven that GMO is not planted, but imported into Namibia.
Namibias agricultural policy beneficiaries are quick to point to their South African counterparts as bringing food which contains hormones and GMO, but it seems they too are eager to put these substances in Namibian-produced foodstuffs, he stated.
It is clear that Namibias food security ambitions are under threat if GMO maize is planted commercially since the patent to the seed would be owned in other countries, he added.
Gaweseb thus called on the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST), which is overseeing the public consultation process on the implementation of the biosafety law and regulations, to open up the process to the majority of Namibians to attend consultative meetings in Katutura as well as in other regions of Namibia.
The NCRST should also first explain the concept of GMO to Namibians without involving non-Namibians so that there can be national consensus on what GMO is.
The executive director claimed that it has also come to the NCTs attention that a few individuals who are opposed to consumer rights play a leading role in the consultative process.
Some of these individuals have argued that the GMO presence threshold as proposed earlier, which was 0.5 per cent, should increase to 0.9 per cent.
Gaweseb further raised the concern that it is also worrying that the consultation process does not involve all parties, especially ministries such as Health, Trade, Agriculture as well as local authorities and State-owned enterprises (SOEs).
The process must also be opened up to various individual members of the public. This can only enhance the public interest role of the commission. The NCRST is further advised to bring together officials responsible for the implementation and monitoring of national policies such as the Fourth National Development Plan, Vision 2030 and the industrialisation policy, he continued.