- Friday, 22 February 2013 09:26
- Published Date
- Hilma Hashange
- Hits: 1512
The Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) has reprimanded those responsible for producing and marketing maize products that a consumer lobby charged contains so-called Genetically Modified maize, despite a general ban on GMO maize.
In a telephonic interview, CEO of the Agronomic Board, Christoph Brock informed the Economist that the Board does not in any way support the production of modified maize as these substances are banned. “Who wants to eat genetically modified maize? I for sure don’t want to eat it so of course the Board does not agree with such procedures,” said Bock.
Bock was reacting to findings done by the Namibia Consumer Trust which revealed that three popular maize products consumed in the country, contained evidence of genetically modified maize. The enterprising trust sent samples of maize for testing in South Africa and found that Ace Instant porridge contained 56.82 % genetically modified maize, White Star Maize Meal contained 2.75% genetically modified maize and Top Score contained 1.09% genetically modified maize.
According to the chairperson of the Consumer Trust, Sandi Tjarondo, the agronomic industry is operating under an agreement referred to as the “marketing agreement” through which the price of maize is fixed and also provides for a “GMO-free premium” which Tjarondo says consumers are charged for because Namibian maize presumably does not contain GMO’s since it is a “controlled crop”.
“The Namibian Agronomic Board is overseeing this industry through registration of procedures and millers as well as endorsement and implementation of the agreement, thus the Agronomic Board is called upon to proactively call on the industry and use the permit system to discipline uncalled-for production and marketing of genetically modified maize in the country,” Tjarondo emphasised. He said the Agronomic Board has a moral obligation to ensure that the industry refunds consumers for having been subjected to a premium fee while in actual fact, most local maize contains GMO’s.
Namibia has adopted the Biosafety Act in 2006 which governs the use of genetically modified crops, feed and foods. The objective of the Biosafety Act no.7 of 2006 is to introduce a system and procedures for the regulation of genetically modified organisms in Namibia in order to provide an adequate level of protection to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, taking into account potential risks to the health and safety of humans and harmful consequences to the environment posed by genetically modified organisms or genetically modified products.
The act stipulates that a person must not deal with a GMO or GMO product unless the person is authorised by a permit issued under the Biosafety Act to deal in the GMO product and any person found to have contravened the act is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N$100,000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 5 years, or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
According to Bock, the Act has not yet been implemented as the decision lies with the Ministry of Education. “The Board has called for the fast implementation of the Act but the procedures are very complicated at this stage so people should not blame the Agronomic Board,” he said.
Bock was however not surprised at the findings as he said a few criminals existed in the industry. “Instant porridge is found in a niche market and people are free to import it from South Africa,” Bock said.
The Directorate of Research, Science and Technology within the Ministry of Education, which is the implementing body of the Biosafety Act says that details of commencement of the act have not yet been gazetted therefore the act cannot operate before it has been gazetted.
South Africa is said to be the largest producer of modified crop, topping the list at 9th place in the global status of commercial genetically modified crops. The country grows genetically modified maize, soya and cotton. Over 50% of Namibia’s maize is imported from South Africa.
Although some scientists have found genetically modified food to be safe, independent studies have shown that genetically modified food can cause health problems such as lesions in the gut, poor functioning of the liver and kidneys and decreased fertility, amongst others.
The Namibia Consumer Trust has embarked on further tests by sending maize cobs from Otavi to determine whether maize that has not been gown locally, comes from GMO seed.
- Articles In This Category
- Tsumeb SOS centre grows own veggies (477 hits)AgricultureThe Ministry of Health and Social Services in conjunction with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare agreed to develop a garden at the...Bernafay farmers plea for assistance (219 hits)AgricultureSituated 30km South East of Stampriet in the Hardap Region, Bernafay is a re-settlement farm established in 1995 after it was purchased by the...Minister urges farmers to stay out of Etosha (107 hits)AgricultureThe Minister of Environment and Tourism Hon. Pohamba Shifeta this week called on farmers in close proximity to the Etosha National Park to...Viability of dairy industry under threat (850 hits)AgricultureThe long term viability of the local dairy industry is under threat due to lack of legislative protection against cheap foreign products,...Maize meal price increase (197 hits)AgricultureNamib Mills hereby announces that due to a severe drought causing a drastic drop in crop expectations, the company will unfortunately have to...AgricultureA ground breaking and official start of the upgrading of the Hardarp Inland Aquaculture centre which is to be overseen by Chinese firm, Synohydro...Best producers show their stuff (917 hits)AgricultureThe Namibian Agronomic Board awarded small scale and large scale fresh produce farmers at the National Horticulture Day held in Outapi earlier this...AgricultureSWAKARA PELTS, NAMIBIA’S “BLACK DIAMONDS” READY FOR INTERNATIONAL AUCTION In preparation for the international Kopenhagen Fur Auction,...Ministry sets up own labour-hire outfit (961 hits)AgricultureThe Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Hon. John Mutorwa, recently inaugurated the new board of directors for a Section 21 company called...Millers urged to stop price increases (211 hits)AgricultureThe Ministry of Agriculture is calling for all millers to refrain from arbitrary increases in price of controlled agronomic products such as maize,...
- Related Articles
- Agronomic Board checks performance (948 hits)AgricultureThe Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry signed a Governance and Performance agreement with state-owned entity, the Namibian Agronomic Board...Silence hovers over amendment of Agronomic Act (1296 hits)AgricultureAgro Marketing Trade Agency (AMTA) and the Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB) are in the process of interim transition measures while they are in the...HeadlinesThe Namibia Agronomic Board (NAB) recorded the second largest maize harvest marketed through the board. The harvest which is still ongoing, is...
- Latest Articles
- HeadlinesThe United States Embassy in Windhoek this week hosted a training session for Namibian magistrates from all fourteen regions under the banner...Businesswomen break bread together again (1848 hits)HeadlinesAt the regular Economist Businesswomen Club breakfast last Friday at Hotel Thule, guest speaker Agnesia (Mara) Booysen of Standard Bank explained the...Capital expenditure down 27% at Langer Heinrich (1808 hits)HeadlinesLanger Heinrich’s parent company, Australian uranium miner, Paladin, is set to cut capital expenditure up to 27% in the financial year 2015 with...Editors DeskThe proverbial chickens have come home to roost in South Africa. Not that it is any skin off my nose how the Seffricans grind themselves into the...Sanlam tracker fund takes off, albeit slow (110 hits)MarketsLaunched without much fan fare in the early part of 2014, the Sanlam Namibia Tracker Fund has managed to take off albeit at a slow pace while...