Dar es Salaam. Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM), has commended government’s move to cancel field trials for genetically modified seeds in the country and urged authorities to take legal actions against those involved in the processes of importing and distributing the seeds to farmers.
In mid-January 2021, the newly appointed Tanzania Agricultural Minister, Prof Adolf Mkenda, announced the cancellation of research trials involving genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the country and the decision to put in place extra biosafety scrutiny of imported genetically modified (GM) seeds.
Speaking at a news conference on Friday, TOAM's program manager and chief executive officer Mr Bakari Mongo said the people responsible for the importation and distribution of the GMO seeds should be held accountable because they endangered the country’s biodiversity, environment and human health in general.
"Sources stated that the seeds that were imported without a proper procedure are cotton and sunflower seeds. Also those GMO seeds pose a contamination risk to the natural farmer's seeds that are widely used by the locals,” he said.
Prof Adolf Mkenda announcement was at the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) Mikocheni centre in Dar es Salaam.
This is the second time the Tanzanian government has cancelled GM trials. In 2018, then Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Mathew Mtigumwe released a similar statement later verified by the then Ministry of Agriculture – to immediately halt all field trials.
"If there are farmers who were distributed with the GMO seeds we advise that they should tear their crops out and burn them," says Mr Mongo
When he cancelled the GMO trials in mid-January, the minister also raised concerns that if the nation lets free entrance of foreign seeds, “there will be seed market dominance by a few agricultural companies with local farmers forced to buy from them every year hence creating seed dependence.”