ZIMBABWE – The Zimbabwean National Biotechnology Authority (NBA) has warned locals against unlawful importation and handling of genetically modified (GMO) grain as the country seeks to alleviate the problems of the current drought.

Dr Deckstar Savadye, NBA Chief Executive Officer and Registrar gave the warning, noting that Zimbabwe is a non-GM producing country.

“To that effect, the NBA wishes to advise all importers or handlers of imported GM grain to adhere to Statutory Instrument (SI) 157 of 2018, (Food, Feed, Food and Feed Additives and Seed) (Imports, Exports and Transit) regulations, ” read the statement.

According to the officer, for one to import GM grain, they should be registered with the NBA and must be a holder of a biosafety import permit.

The NBA requires importers of grain to notify the board when GM grain arrives in the country to allow thorough supervision by the authority’s inspectors.

“The importer is also required to notify the NBA when their consignment of GM grain enters the country, to enable the NBA to deploy inspectors to the site where the grain will be processed. As the GM grain is to be processed under strict supervision by the NBA,” Dr Savadye said.

The notice comes after the Government granted permission to companies and individuals to import maize, rice, and cooking oil duty-free with effect from July 2024 to avert looming food shortages emanating from the El Nino-induced drought.

Other measures taken by the Government to beef up stocks included the purchase of local grain at an import parity price of US$390 per tonne to mop up excess local grain.

Recently, while speaking during a post-Cabinet media briefing, Jenfan Muswere the Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services announced that the government had given a go-ahead for the importation of GM grain for stockfeed production.

“Government has okayed a duty waiver on the importation of rice and potato seed, and the importation of genetically modified maize for stock feed, under strictly supervised milling and distribution,” the minister said.

He, however, warned that importers and processors who do not adhere to the law are liable to a fine or imprisonment under SI 157 of 2018.

It is also an offence to process GM grain without NBA supervision.”

For all the latest grains industry news from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our weekly NEWSLETTERS, follow us on LinkedIn, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.