ZAMBIA – Zambian National Biosafety Authority (NBA) has granted two companies permits to import pet foods and snacks alleged to contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for the next five years.

Speaking in an interview, NBA’s Authority Communications Officer Sandra Lombe said that the Scientific Advisory Committee recommended to the Board the issuance of permits after risk assessments were conducted and products were found to be safe for humans, animals, and the environment.

According to Lusaka Times, the permits are granted to Nelt Zambia Limited to bring in Pedigree dog food and Whiskas cat food while Zambian Brands Limited will import Willards Monster Munch, Willards Diddle Daddle snacks, and Bakers Street Jumpin Jack of three different flavors (White Cheddar, Butter, and Cheese & Green Onion).

This comes after the recent move by the government to grant 35 Transit Authorisations to various companies transiting mealie meal that may contain GMOs from South Africa to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Ms. Lombe said that the transit permits were granted on the basis that the mealie meal poses no danger to people as the National Biosafety Authority (NBA), whose core business is to regulate genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the country has certified the product is safe.

She added that the authority has designated Kazungula and Chirundu as entry points for the GMO mealie meal transiting from South Africa, while Kasumbalesa and Mwami are the exit ports to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi respectively.

So far, she added, in the past month over 220,000 metric tons of mealie meal that may contain GMOs have transited to DRC.

She assured that the exit points are also monitored to ensure that the trucks have the same quantities they declared at the entry point. We are committed to regulating activities related to GMOs,” she stated.

Earlier, Ministry of Information and Media Director Spokesperson Thabo Kawana said the imported mealie meal is strictly for exports and not for local consumption as it is expensive.

“To secure our local market, we allowed for the importation of mealie meal from South Africa so that we satisfy the international market which is highly dependent on the Zambian market,” Mr. Kawana said.

According to Mr. Kawana, Zambia, and South Africa are the only countries in the region that have maize as the region has been negatively affected by climatic conditions hence depending on the two countries.

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