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  TABIO

                                      MEDIA RELEASE: 4 April 2014

 CIVIL SOCIETY ALLIANCE CALLS FOR NATIONAL DEBATE ON GMOs

An alliance of 20 civil society organizations and exporters today called for a national debate on GMOs and its regulatory framework so that citizens are well informed before any attempt to weaken biosafety laws is made. Despite assurances that the Biosafety Regulations would stand, it seems yet again Tanzania is bowing to pressure to weaken the legislation protecting Tanzanian consumers against the negative effects of GMOs.

 

Despite the Government's good intention of putting in place a regulatory regime to govern the utilization of biotechnology, the Biosafety Regulations have been attacked as an obstacle to the development, transfer and use of biotechnology in the country. At the heart of the argument is the principle of strict liability, which holds anyone who introduces GMOs liable for any harm, injury or loss caused by their actions.

 

A TABIO spokesperson explained: “The strict liability principle has been misunderstood, distorted and misreported to the extent of creating fear on its application as a sound module of liability and redress for harm, injury or loss caused by GMOs. People need to know exactly what the risks are, and how the existing law protects us, in order to make informed choices.”

 

No scientific consensus on GMO safety. Over 300 international scientists, physicians, academics, and experts strongly reject GM industry claims that there is a scientific consensus on GMO safety and that the debate on this topic is over. "Such claims may place human and environmental health at undue risk and create an atmosphere of complacency," stated Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, chairperson of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER)[1].

 

TABIO cited references[2] to 1400 studies, surveys, and analyses that suggest adverse impacts of genetically engineered crops, foods and related pesticides. They include health impacts, environmental impacts, resistance, pesticide drift, genetic contamination, horizontal gene transfer, unintended effects, as well as references to yields, social impact, ethics, economics and regulations.

 

GMOs in Dar. Meanwhile imported genetically modified food is on sale in Dar es Salaam supermarkets, and on consumers’ breakfast tables. The Alliance asks if the importers have applied for permission from the regulatory authorities. Citizens are advised to check labels, and be wary of imported maize-based products from countries that have no labeling laws.

ENDS

Contacts:

Abdallah Mkindi, TABIO Coordinator: tabiosecretariat@gmail.com Tel: 0784 311 179


 

 

Notes for Editors

Tanzania is among the very few African countries to date to have developed regulatory regimes to govern the adoption and utilization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The regulations were put in place to implement the Environment Management Act, which called for the need to have regulations for procedures and processes for the development, handling and use of GMOs. Regulation 56 (1) reads; any person or his agent who imports, transits, make contained or confined use of, release, carries out any activities in relation to GMOs or products thereof or place on the market a GMO shall be strictly liable for any harm, injury or loss caused directly or indirectly by such GMOs or their products or any activity in relation to GMOs.

 

TABIO position is that the principle of strict liability should neither be weakened nor abandoned in the Biosafety Regulations. It should be maintained to guide the implementation of the Biosafety Regulations so as to provide a balanced approach in utilizing the benefits of modern biotechnology but at the same time protecting human health and the environment from the likely adverse effects that GMOs may pose. Protecting the rights of vulnerable citizens against the profit oriented interests of multinational GM companies whose sole aim is profit maximization at all cost is of paramount importance.

 

Tanzania Alliance for Biodiversity is an alliance of civil society and private sector organizations concerned with the conservation of agricultural biodiversity for livelihood security and food sovereignty.

 

The members of the alliance share the aims of conserving biodiversity and supporting sustainable development, promoting farmers’ self-determination and food sovereignty, facilitating exchange of information and experiences concerning sustainable and healthy agriculture policies and practices, ensuring public awareness on issues of concern to the environment, agriculture and biodiversity, and promoting citizen involvement in the decision-making processes which guide the development of biotechnology particularly GMO.

 

Alliance members believe that Biosafety regulations should be based on the precautionary principle and are convinced that introduction of GM crops or animals is not the right solution to fight poverty and hunger.

 

Members of the Alliance

 

  • ACRACCS
  • ActionAid International Tanzania
  • African Biodiversity Network (Kenya)
  • African Centre for Biosafety (South Africa)
  • Biolands
  • BioRe
  • BioSustain
  • Community Water & Environmental Association (COWEA)
  • CVM/APA (Comunità Volontari per il Mondo / AIDS partnership with Africa)
  • Envirocare
  • ESAFF
  • MVIWATA
  • PELUM
  • Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania
  • Swissaid
  • TANCERT
  • Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement
  • Tushiriki
  • The Vijiji Foundation

 

 

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