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Selling, growing genetically modified maize seed is illegal— Agriculture deputy minister 

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By Tapiwa Svondo 


DEPUTY Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Vangelis Haritatos, has warned that those illegally selling genetically modified organism (GMO) maize to farmers for planting will be prosecuted.

While briefing journalists in Harare last week, Haritatos said government will allow the importation of GMO maize, but it cannot be distributed to farmers for planting and if both buyers and sellers are caught doing so they will face the wrath of the law.

“We are allowing GMO maize to be imported in the country but what we don’t want is, it to be distributed to our farmers.

“We believe that if any maize is sold to our farmers, that this is something that’s tantamount to that person who sold to the individual to be prosecuted whether it’s the farmer buying or the seller. We will prosecute both because both will be offside.

“So those that are importing, we do not allow you to sell maize to farmers for them to grow onto their farms.

“If you are caught selling maize and we find that maize, unfortunately you will definitely be prosecuted.

“The law has to take its toll and we cannot have that in Zimbabwe. So, l think let’s all be forewarned let’s follow what the law says and let’s not make this a difficult situation when it doesn’t need to be difficult,” said the deputy minister.

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He made it clear that commercial importers can approach authorised entities for maize imports that will be scrutinised by the National Biotech Authority of Zimbabwe (NBAZ).

“Our reliance on imports as a country must only be within the commercial sector. So those that are looking to bring in maize, they are welcome to approach, GMAZ and CMAZ and other millers who want to import but they must bring in the grain that they require.

“The GMO maize must be delivered to a mill and it will be milled under supervision by the NBAZ, the National Biotech Authority, or it can be sold for stock feed and again put through their stock feeds plant,” said Haritatos.

However, government insists there are adequate maize stocks, and the country will not need to import supplementary products.

“So, we have no immediate intention as Government of Zimbabwe to import any maize into this current season’s stock.

“As I mentioned, we have substantial amount of stock already in our SGR (strategic grain reserves), and we strongly believe that, that is enough until next year’s harvest and next year’s summer harvest,” said Haritatos.