Zim imports 121 000mt of GM maize

via Zim imports 121 000mt of GM maize | The Herald August 21, 2014 by Jeffrey Gogo

ZIMBABWE imported nearly 121 000 metric tonnes of genetically modified (GM) maize from Saouth Africa between February and July this year, in contravention of the country’s own biosafety laws, The Herald Business can reveal. The grain — enough to feed Zimbabwe’s 13 million citizens foran entire month — was mainly for food and processing.

Genetically modified foods are widely considered unsafe for human consumption. They are suspected of causing or multiplying the risk of an array of illnesses including cancers. GMs are produced from seed that has been doctored in laboratories, supposedly making them resistant to disease.

Statistics obtained by this paper from South Africa’s Department of Agriculture show that the imports were by three non-governmental organisations, Louis Dreyfus, Toepfer International and GAPS.

In February, GAPS imported 50 000mt of maize; Toepfer International, a German commodity broking firm, 30 000mt and Louis Dreyfus, a trader of agricultural goods from Netherlands, imported 9 300mt.

Louis Dreyfus took in a further 7 000mt of the staple in March; 3 420mt in May and another 7 000mt in June.
For June and July, Toepfer imported a total 13 900mt. The NGOs were fully aware the maize was genetically modified.

Mariam Mayet, director at the African Centre for Biosafety in South Africa told Foodmatters Zimbabwe, an online grouping of agriculture experts, that: “We have been informing the Zimbabweans about all the exports…”

It is unlikely in the melee of emergency food aid necessitated by Zimbabwe’s chronic food shortages in recent years, the grain was clearly labelled “GMO”, for consumer purposes.

It also remains unclear how the imports passed through border control without detection. Government has publicly stated its policy against the use of genetically modified organisms (GMs) for food, seed, animal feed or processing.

Repeated efforts to obtain comment from Agriculture Minister Joseph Made were unfruitful. His deputy, Davis Mharapira refused to comment saying “talk to the minister. He is the one handling the issue on GMs.”

Dr Made has on numerous occasions in the past made clear Government’s anti-GMs stance.
Fears are that the maize imports may not have been assessed for risk, leading to contamination with organic grain. Millions of people could have consumed the contaminated grain unknowingly.

In Zimbabwe, risk assessment is an obligation under international agreements such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and national laws which include the National Biotechnology Authority Act of 2006.

The Cartagena Protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by genetically modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.

Domestic biosafety laws are vague on the exemption (or not) of GM imports during food emergency situations.
Countries under the Common Market for East and Southern Africa, of which Zimbabwe is a member, disallow GMO use, at any time.

The National Biotechnology Authority of Zimbabwe, which has been advocating GMO cotton, says on its website: “biosafety is the protection of human and animal health and the environment from the possible effects of products of biotechnology.

“Risk assessment is the evaluation of the likelihood of the occurrence of an undesirable event. It is science based, carried out on a case-by-case basis, comparative and iterative.”

However, it is common knowledge that there is no baseline data on the safety of GMs to the environment and human health in most African countries of the east and south, hence no foundation for the assessment of food and feed safety.

The sustained importation of GMs has raised questions on Government’s capacity to monitor and control effectively the sphere of unregulated genetically modified grain trade.

Zimbabwe’s persistent shortages of food in the past decade have seen numerous non-governmental organisations and the private sector coming to the rescue of hungry villagers.

This has opened the food industry to possible manipulation, increasing the risk of GM imports, as a last gap measure to avert hunger. At least 2,2 million people were estimated to be in need of food aid last year.

The African Union has recently adopted the revised African Model Law on Biosafety, which recognises the “potential adverse effects on the environment, biological diversity and human health posed by GMs [that] are causing a growing public concern.”


  • comment-avatar
    avenger/revenger 10 years ago

    Why does mugabeland have to import maize??? Strange. Rhodesia used to export maize to au/sadc !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • comment-avatar
    biggus dickus 10 years ago

    zimbabwe is importing maize as there has been a nationwide drought i believe

  • comment-avatar
    Miimo 10 years ago

    last month we were having a record crop – now we are importing. What lies spew out of ministers mouths. So much for mugabe saying zim must be independent the SADC meeting.

  • comment-avatar
    Miimo 10 years ago

    Any way Mugabe told an empty Bulawayo agric show yesterday that Zimbabwe was independent of imports. Liar.

    • comment-avatar
      Mapingu 10 years ago

      Man, its no longer rocket science to tell when Mugabe is lying. Actually, it is now an irrefutable fact that, since the beginning of the 21st century the old man has made it his trademark to lie whenever he opens his month. Of cause the man has always been addicted to lying but at least before year 2000 many will agree with me that he used to mix his lies with some elements of truth. It’s no longer the case now – he now specializes in lying only.

      Lies, Lies, Lies, Lies ….. thru and thru. Shame!

  • comment-avatar
    Dale Doré 10 years ago

    Jeffrey Gogo perpetuates the myth of GM crops. He writes that it is “common knowledge that there is no baseline data on the safety of GMs to the environment and human health in most African countries.” Why would that be, one wonders? It is because there is not a shred of scientific evidence that GM crops are harmful to humans. Zimbabwe’s stance on GMOs in non-scientific mumbo-gumbo: exactly what we would expect from a government that believes that diesel pours out of rocks.

  • comment-avatar
    Don Cox 10 years ago

    Whether or not a GM crop would be harmful must depend on the exact modification involved.

    For instance, if a gene is added to make the crop more drought resistant, this will not make it harmful.

    But if a gene was added to make the crop produce an insecticide, that might make the crop risky to eat, like a crop that has been sprayed with the same insecticide.

  • comment-avatar
    bingo wajakata 10 years ago

    The land distribution was a resounding success so says the ZANU PF gang of terrorists and now robbers and crocks. Show me a ZANU PF person I I will show you a thief!

    • comment-avatar

      So successful we want to sell it to all SADC countries

      …They never cease to delude themselves

  • comment-avatar
    Gono Chiyadza 10 years ago

    Useless Zanu farmers…they can’t even produce maize. Stop the nonsense about drought. If you are going to wait for the heavenly rains you are stupid Bob and Company. Farms are being used for weekend outings. gochi gochi amd chesa nyama. Most of the farm invaders cannot even maintain their gardens at home. This is a shame on Mugabe and stupid cronies …tichaitora minda iyoyo. Do not think Zim is for Zanu cronies alone