Small scale farmers want the government to annul GMO law

Small scale farmers in the country have appealed to the government to revoke the law that allows production of GMO produce in the country claiming that the technology is distorting the market for their produce and poses health threat to consumers.
The call was made by members of the national network of farmers groups in Tanzania (MVIWATA) who met recently to dialogue the Agriculture and Food policies, the meeting brought together farmers, researchers, partner organizations and government officials.
Speaking at the event, the MVIWATA chairperson, Veronica Sophu said that farmers in many African countries have started using GMO seeds of various crops and the effects are being witnessed by emerging of plant diseases hard to treat.
“As small holder farmers, we are not ready to use such technology, instead we are calling for the government and other stakeholders to look deeply into the really challenges facing farmers in the country, for GMO is not one,” she said.
She explained that small holder farmers were facing numerous challenges including lack of markets for their produce, high prices of farm inputs , land conflicts and many more calling for the governemt to come up with innovations to improve their conventional seeds instead of pushing for GMOs.
On his side, the MVIWATA guardian and former Regional commissioner for Morogoro Stephen Mashishanga said it was up to farmers to continue raising their voices to defend their interests until their demands are heard since they were lacking representation in most national fora.
“If farmers, through your network, united and raised your voices to protest against GMO, I believe the incumbent government will hear out your cry and do a lot to improve production environment,” he said.
Making presentation at the meeting, Advisor of Legal services –Vice President office Isakwisa Lameck said already the government has allowed use of GMOs technology for research purposes.
He said the government has put regulations and procedures for using that technology and that permits are only issued basing on results.
Giving an example, he said, in 2003 there was a request to produce food for infants, but that the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority rejected the request since the law doesn’t allow production of children foods from GMOs produce.
He added that the government was not forcing any one to use the technology but enforce the law and regulations stipulated and that only few people had adopted the technology.
However he admitted that management of implementation of the law was still challenged by resources for identifying the GMOs produce and lack of capacity to carry enough scientific researches on merits and demerits of the technology.

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