NAMIBIA will now be able to trace the history of genetically modified organisms' products on the local market.
The National Commission for Research, Science and Technology's (NCRST) biotechnology manager Paulus Mungeyi said yesterday that the traceability of GMO is critical to determine their content.
He said this after the official launch of the NCRST's biotechnology testing, training and research laboratory in Windhoek yesterday. The establishment of the lab, Mungeyi said, is part of the mandate to administer the Biosafety Act which regulates activities involving the research, development, production, marketing, transportation and other uses of GMOs, and specific products from GMOs.
The laboratory has a staff complement of five people trained in biosafety and biotechnology.
"The laboratory will play a big role in building local capacity regarding producing a cadre of professional researchers in this field, and ultimately producing by-products that are designed and suited for local use, rather than always relying on imports," he added.
Speaking at the official opening, director of research and innovation in the higher education ministry Lisho Mundia said the laboratory would provide testing services for GMOs and GMO products.
He noted that while in the past they depended highly on GMO certificates presented at customs for imported products, tests can now be done locally.
"This will curb any illegal dealings in GMOs or GMO products," Mundia, who represented higher education minister Itah Kandji-Murangi, stated.
He furthermore pointed out that there is misinformation among communities about GMOs and other biotechnology-based products because of a lack of capacity and resources.
"Therefore, by building local testing and food safety assessment capacity, Namibia will be in a better position to make decisions on the standards of food we produce or import, through an evidence-based approach," Mundia said.