Four companies awarded permits to import GMOs

By Staff Reporter

The National Biosafety Authority (NBA) has granted four companies new permits to import products that may contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

In a statement by communications officer  Sandra Lombe, NBA chairperson Dr. Paul Zambezi said permits had been granted to Gatbro Distributors, Pick n Pay, Southern National Import and Export Limited and Choppies Super Stores, following a board decision during a meeting held on 5th July 2019 in Lusaka.

In May 2019, the Scientific Advisory Committee of the NBA recommended to the board on the issuance of permits after risk assessment was conducted on the products that may contain GMOs and were found to be safe for human consumption.

Among the products which Gatbro intends to import include Bokomo Otees, Bokomo Pro- nutro, Instant porridge, Bokomo cornflakes, Bisto and Knor soups.
Pick N Pay is expected to import 72 different varieties of food and feed.
Southern National Import and Export limited is expected to import various pre mixes including bread mix, soft roll mix and Bakels 15% soft mix among others while Choppies is expected to import various flavours of Ace porridge.

“As the NBA we would like to reiterate that food safety is very important and we cannot allow any food or feed which is not safe for human consumption nor for use as animal feed to be on the market. As such products which have been allowed to be on the Zambian market by the NBA have been established to be safe for consumers,” Dr. Zambezi said.

The NBA is currently reviewing other permit applications which are at various stages.

Since the beginning of this year the Authority has renewed six permits to place on the market products which may contain GMOs.
“The six are for; Cold Chain, Zambian Brands, Comox Trading Limited, Horizon Distributors and Innscor Distributors to ensure compliance permits to sell products that may contain GMOs are valid for six months,” she stated.

Meanwhile, the NBA has granted 45 permits (for import and placing on the market ), three research permits, registered five Institutional Biosafety Committee, and issued four Non- GM clearance certificates for export from 2016 to date.

Dr.  Zambezi expressed delight with the Authority for further building capacity in risk assessment, enhancing regulation and decision making.

“During our term of office, which comes to an end this year, the NBA also initiated the process for the review of the Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy, developed the Inspectors manual and draft guidelines on Contained Use and Confined Field Trials, rolled out inspections and appointed External Inspectors,” he said.
And NBA Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, Lackson Tonga observed that there was considerable response from the distributors and traders as regards to compliance levels with respect to provisions of the Biosafety Act No. 10 of 2007.

“This can be seen in the willingness by the distributors and traders to renew permits and also in the increase in permit applications by relevant clients that we continue to receive,” he said.