First-ever GMO testing laboratory opened here

28 May 2013 10:00
WINDHOEK, 28 MAY (NAMPA) ? Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister John Mutorwa has warned that if the world is not careful enough, genetic resources may disappear through the uncontrolled use of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs).
He indicated during the official opening of the first-ever multi-million-dollar GMO Laboratory Testing facility here on Tuesday that some 40 per cent of the world is pushing ecosystems, species and gene pools to extinction, faster than at any time since dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.
The facility consists of two departments - one for research and another one for testing ? and cost the line ministry more than N.dollars 12 million to construct.
Mutorwa said in the modern world, scientists are using sophisticated techniques to precisely manipulate the genetic structure of individual living cells.
He gave an example of scientists who can insert genes from a coldwater fish into a tomato to create a frost-resistant plant, or use bacterial genes to make herbicide-tolerant corn.
The results are known as GMOs.
?I am not against science, but what we are saying as food producers is that consumers have the right to know what they are consuming,? he stressed.
The minister then called on producers to properly, ethically, honestly and professionally label their products to give consumers choices - whether to take GMO foodstuffs or not.
GMO laboratory testing started off in earnest when Cabinet and members of the public raised concerns about what the Agriculture Ministry was doing about GMO seeds and food entering this country.
The first incident was reported in 2010 at a farm in the Otavi area, where GMO maize was allegedly planted.
GMOs are any living thing that has had its genetic material altered in some way through human, scientific interference.