MINISTER of Higher Education Dr Brain Mushimba has urged the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) to enhance its public awareness and operations as it ensures the safety of the humans, animals and the environment.

The NBA regulates the research, development, application, importation, export, transit, contained use, release or placing on the market of any GMO/LMO whether intended for use as a pharmaceutical, food, feed or processing, or a product of a GMO also to ensure that any activity involving the use or a product of GMO prevents any socio-economic impact or harm to human, animal health and the environment in the country.

Dr. Mushimba, on Tuesday during his familiarization tour and meeting with NBA staff, commended the Authority and encouraged the staff to continue working hard as they execute the Authority’s mandate.

“… The perception out there is that GMOs were banned by Late President Levy Mwanawasa and there are no GMOs in Zambia. I have struggled to understand that line of thinking because today there is nothing that is not modified in one way or another. Even the drought resistant crops, have been modified conventionally to increase productivity in an effort to feed the world population, of about 7 billion people,” he said.

Dr Mushimba pledged to support the Authority in sensitizing government officials and members of parliament (MPs) on the current status of GMOs in Zambia.

“We live in an engineering world where technologies are advancing every day, therefore we cannot ignore what is happening. It’s the time we are in,” he said.

And Dr Mushimba urged the Ministry of Higher Education to come up with a roadmap on the review of the Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy and subsequent regulations.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mushimba assured the NBA of his support and help in improving its mobility, infrastructure development and staff recruitment. However, he expressed happiness that the Authority had come up with modalities to collaborate with other existing agencies in ensuring compliance on all activities relating to GMOs. Dr. Mushimba cited the memorandum of understanding which has been signed between the Authority and the Ministry of Health where personnel in the Public Health Unit are conducting inspections on behalf the Authority, thereby making the presence of the Authority at ports of entry.