NBA confiscates GMO products from Choppies


THE National Biosafety Authority has confiscated food products containing Genetically Modified Organisms, which were being sold without permits in Choppies Supermarket in Lusaka.

The Authority accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Health, Lusaka City Council and police pounced on the unsuspecting supermarkets and confiscated food products worth over K21,000.
NBA chief executive officer Lackson Tonga said the authority had discovered that some of the merchandise which were products of GMO crops were being sold without prior approval of the Authority.
Among the food products confiscated include Choppies instant maize porridge of different flavours, Choppies Corn Flakes and Choppies soups also of different flavours.
According to a statement issued by NBA communications officer Sandra Lombe-Mulowa, the goods would be discarded according to the law.
However, Lombe-Mulowa said similar goods worth millions of kwacha have since been withdrawn from Choppies shelves countrywide until a permit is obtained from the Authority for such products.
She stated that the Authority would subject other samples collected to laboratory tests to ascertain whether or not they contain genetically modified organisms.
“The Authority’s mandate is to regulate research, development, application, importation, export, transit, contained use, release or placing on the market of any GMO, whether intended for use as a pharmaceutical, food, feed or processing, or a product of a GMO. The NBA which was established under the Biosafety Act No. 10 of 2007 also ensures that any activity involving the use or a product of GMO prevents any socio-economic impact or harm to human, animal health and the environment in the country,” according to the statement.
According to the Biosafety Act, a person shall not research on, develop, produce, import, export, transit, carry out any contained use, release or place on the market any genetically modified organism or any product of a genetically modified organism or deal in any manner with any genetically modified organism or a product of a genetically modified organism without the prior approval of the Authority.

“Any approval or authorisation of the Authority for any activity relating to any genetically modified organism or any product of any genetically modified organism shall be through the issuance of a permit,” Tonga said.

He explained that about a month ago, NBA officials verbally warned Choppies Kabulonga and asked them to follow the right procedure by applying for a permit but they chose to disregard the advice.

“Instead the store removed the products from the shelves. The products were clearly labelled to contain GMOs. After some time, we noticed that they had placed back the same products on the market, hence our moving in to confiscate these products,” Tonga stated.
“It is an offence to research, develop, import or release on the market or make contained use of any GMO or product without any written approval from the Authority. The Act is very clear under the ‘regulation of activities relating to genetically modified organisms’ that any person who contravenes Part III subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable, upon conviction, to a fine not exceeding five hundred thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years or to both.”
He stated that the Authority would not sit and watch people abrogate the law and bring in products that contain GMOs and whose risk assessment has not been done.

And Tonga called on consumers to be alert and read the contents of a product before purchasing.
“Just like most people look out for the expiry dates, they should also be on the lookout for critical information on a product packaging and read what the products they are buying are made off or contain so that they make an informed choice whether to buy such products or not,” stated Tonga.

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