National Biosafety Authority says 64 certificates issued in 2023 for mealie meals in transit to DRC


The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) has announced that it granted 64 certificates in 2023 for transit mealie meal which might contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from South Africa to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

NBA Chief Executive Officer, Lackson Tonga, said the authority also issued 120 non-genetically modified organism certificates to companies exporting various commodities.

Tonga in a statement issued in Lusaka on Monday by NBA Communications Officer, Sandra Lombe, stated that the authority in 2023 recorded an increase in the number of applications for authority to transit commodities that might contain GMOs.

He revealed that over 750,000 metric tonnes of mealie meal which might contain GMOs transited Zambia last year.

“In 2023 we recorded an increase in the number of companies and individuals seeking transit authorisation as over 40 companies and individuals applied compared to less than 10 in the previous year,” Tonga announced

He also expressed happiness with the compliance levels to the Biosafety Act.

“There has been an impressive response from the suppliers and distributors as regards applying for new permits and renewing permits to placing on the market products which may contain GMOs,” Tonga stated.

He said that this showed that there were appreciable levels of compliance to the provisions of the Biosafety Act.

Tonga disclosed that the authority, however, also recorded two cases of non-compliance to the Biosafety Act following inspections which revealed that two companies from 16 that were visited were non-complaint.

The NBA Chief Executive Officer stated that the companies in question were cautioned and advised to adhere to the provisions of Act.

“Additionally, the Authority while working with other border agencies in Livingstone and Kazungula seized 300 bags by 25 kilograms of mealie meal containing GMOs which were placed on the market without prior authorization from the Authority,” he added.

Tonga said the matter was taken to court and the trader was fined, adding that the authority disposed off the mealie meal since risk assessment was not conducted on the product.

Read More: National Biosafety Authority denies reports of confiscating mealie meals laced with GMOs

He stated the authority issued 33 permits for placing products that may contain GMO on the market and issued two research permits to conduct clinical trials for a Tuberculosis and Shigellosis vaccines.

“The Authority, furthermore, contributed to the facilitation of trade through issuance of over 120 non-GMO certificates,” Tonga said.

He emphasized that the certificates were issued to anyone wishing to export any commodity to a country where the non-GMO confirmation was a requirement.

Tonga stated that before a non-GMO certificate was issued, samples of the products were first collected and subjected to laboratory analysis for confirmation of non-GMO presence.

“The Authority collected 191 samples of various commodities and products including grain, mealie meal, cereals, tobacco from across the country and were subjected to GMO tests of which all tested negative except for the three samples of Texture Soya Protein which tested positive,” he said.

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