SWAKOPMUND, 11 APR – Plans to establish a list of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) in Namibia are advancing well.
The list has been compiled and submitted to Cabinet for approval, General Manager of Innovation and Technology Development at the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST), Vincent Nowaseb said on Tuesday.
He was speaking to reporters at a workshop on food and safety feed assessment and environmental risk assessment training in Swakopmund.
Nowaseb said it is very important for Namibia to determine which products are safe to use locally and to export.
“The list will put Namibia in a safe trading position in terms of exports as there are some countries which might not accept products if they do not know the genetic modification,” he said.
He further noted that at the moment in Africa, only South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho have full biosafety regulatory systems.
“Namibia will hopefully very soon have a full system as required by the Biosafety Act of 2006.”
Nowaseb stated that a giant step taken in this regard was the opening of the biotechnology testing, training and research laboratory in Windhoek in January this year.
The laboratory is designed to test for GMOs in food products.
Nowaseb further said the idea is for Namibia to be in a position to develop drought resistant crops and animals because this will help to reduce the effects of drought.
“We can for instance develop maize which is resistant to army worms and get rid of the situation experienced at the Etunda Irrigation Project last year.”
The worms mainly target maize, millet and sorghum crops, and destroyed crops at Etunda in the Omusati Region and in the Zambezi Region.
The two-day workshop focused on the assessment of the safety of food and feeds for humans and animals, as well as the environmental risks such GMO products have.
GMOs are organisms such as plants and animals in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.