26 December 2012

Tanzania: Legalisation of GMOs Won't Threaten Trade - Ambassador

Legalization of Genetically Modified Organisms is not a threat to the future of European Union (EU) and Tanzania bilateral trade, EU Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi has said.

In response to questions from 'Daily News, he said such a move would not be a threat because any product that complies with EU legislation can be imported and will be imported also in future. "This means that genetically modified organisms must be approved and for non-GMO products there are GMO contamination limits in place which must be respected," he said.

He was responding to the question that most of Tanzania's commodities which are agro products are exported to Europe, and whether GMO legalization would be threatening the future of EU and Tanzania bilateral trade. "We see no threat for our future trade.

Any product that complies with EU legislation can and will be imported in future," he said Zanzibar was the location for the recent 2012 Council meeting of the African Regional Intellectual property Organisation (ARIPO) bringing together 18 countries in Africa.

The initiative with ARIPO will impact on all its members and not only on Zanzibar. He said the Memorandum of Understandig signed in Zanzibar gives recognition to the importance of traditional agriculture in Africa and it will thus help promote and add value to African quality products and traditions, thereby contributing to economic growth and poverty reduction in Africa.

Asked as to whether the EU was concerned about Tanzania's steady move towards GMO authorization, he said the EU is not 'concerned' because they expect that the release of genetically modified organisms in Tanzania would follow regulatory procedures suitable to exclude undesired effects or consequences for biodiversity, the environment in general and for the consumer, as it does in the EU.

"If the government of Tanzania requests assistance in this review process, the EU certainly stands prepared to provide it through available programmes," he said East African farmers under the umbrella of civil society organisations have petitioned the ARIPO, following the latter's proposed draft of a regional harmonised policy and legal framework on plant variety protection.

The draft policy, which is based on the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants Convention of 1991, will make it mandatory for small-scale farmers in East Africa to buy all their seeds from multinational firms and stop using seeds from past harvests.

The group faults the process used to develop the draft policy and the negative impact its adoption would have on small scale farmers, food security and on agricultural biodiversity.

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