Wednesday, December 19, 2018

About 80% Of Food Products In Namibia Are GMOs

Genetically modified food is pose a serious bio-hazard and safety risks among the consumers
Most of the maize meal brands, the Namibians buy in shops tainted or completely Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The situation has become worse since 2012, when the ills of genetically modified organisms was first detected in the country. 

The food products like Top Score had 1,09% GMOs and White Star 2,75%, the Namibia Consumer Trust said have found now Top Score to contains about 66,79% GMO and White Star maize meal 87,34%. The findings, however, could not be verified independently, nor were the companies producing the maize immediately available for comment. 

The National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST) is mandated to implement the Biosafety Act, 2006 (Act no. 7, 2006) which provides for measures to regulate activities involving research, development, production, marketing, importation, transportation, and trans-boundary movement of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the country. The NCRST is established in terms of the Research Science and Technology Act, 2004 (Act no.23 of 2004), the center started its operations in July of 2013. Ever since its inception the NCRST has taken the mandate to implement the Biosafety Act.

Definition: Genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using techniques and principles in genetics known as Recombinant DNA technology, a subject of Biotechnology. Recombinant DNA technology is the ability to combine DNA molecules from different sources into the one molecule or isolate them. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or more correctly Genetically Engineered Food, it stalking its way into our local markets in more unprecedented quantities. Everyday's food staples such as bread, margarine, tinned fish in cotton seed oil, breakfast cereals, maize meal, soya products and baby food believed to be tainted, with bio-enhanced substances.  In many products GMOs are ‘hidden’ as stabilizers, thickeners and as bulking agents in products from yoghurt to vitamin tablets in local pharmacies and dispensers. Local retailers such as Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Spar, Checkers and even health diet-shops are selling these unlabeled genetically modified food.


Pioneer Foods CEO Tertius Carstens illustrating batch details of the bread to a worker
The Namibian Consumer Trust said they re-tested maize meal on shelves for the presence of GMOs in a bid to keep consumers informed. The trust said Top Score, which is produced by Namib Mills, and White Star, produced by Bokomo, contain an overwhelming majority share on the market, thus the current findings are significant in concluding that Namibians, who consume maize meal on a regular basis, are now consuming high quantities of GMOs. For most people in cities and some rural areas depend on the supermarkets as a source of fresh food, we must assert that the tainted food have replaced the organic healthy food sources in the markets. 

The allegations of saying the country needs industrialization of food enhancement and processing to reduced food prices and made a range of food more accessible to people, it might also an excuse for the government and health inspectors to turn a blind eye on the serious issues entailing bioethics and GMOs implications. However, the GMOs has never brought down the prices since the convenience of the food market has many hidden costs. The local consumers have very little say regarding the acceptance of those tainted products they consume. It has not been a democratic process! An unwanted food products are mainstreamed into our diet largely without people's knowledge, in spite of increasing public concern regarding the health risks and without being consistently labelled as a GMO, this is a big risk regarding the role of supermarkets as distributors of good food.  The Supermarkets always say it is the Government’s responsibility to regulate product for food safety and implement some regulations to counter or filter GMOs!

The greediness for investment that we are all chasing after has blinded us, from seeing through the strategy of Eugenicists that sponsoring some bad Add-ons in the global businesses that covered by several multi-layers, front companies and multifaceted-products as a clever disguise to throw mud to whoever might be trying to examine. The multinational companies like ''MONSANTO'' employed many tricks which only unraveled by the 'grey-matter' include bribery ''fixing'' the Health Inspectors and the domestic authority in guaranteeing approval for the GMO' marketing license.
The subject of many studies, GMOs have been found to be harmful to both humans and the environment. Since they injected into the food supplying lines and stores without the consumers' consent. The food they buy in shops are not labelled accordingly, in that it GMOs could be unverified residue.The GMO giant companies like Monsanto and others their controversial food products are said to produce toxins that kill pests and even weed, and it has been banned in many countries, in the European Union and Japan, among others. The Minister of Agriculture John Mutorwa confirmed that GMOs are not banned nor illegal in Namibia. He explained that he was not against science but that it was important for consumers to know what they are buying and thus called for an ethical, honest and professional labeling.

GMO Engulfed Entire Region

Zambia: On 11 July, 2014; the Livingstone City Council swung into action by seizing and destroying food products from Shoprite Supermarket containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The Chief Health Inspector Muchoka Muchoka said Bokomo's Cornflakes, Popcorns and Jungle oats were among the cereals seized and destroyed from the two Shoprite outlets in the tourist capital. Mr. Muchoka said the quantities destroyed were 496 packets of 500 grams Bokomo cornflakes, 208 packets of 750 grams of the breakfast cereal, four packets of the one kilogram Bokomo cornflakes and 141 packets of the 375 grams cereal. Bokomo is a South African brand started in 1997 as food pioneer: Its commercial products that was seized in the exercise was manufactured locally in Lusaka. Mr. Muchoka said after seizing the goods, the local authority sought guidance from the BioSafety Authority which in turn authorized them to destroy the goods at the expense of Shoprite. 

A few items we have noted as labelled and might tainted genetically and available at your local stores: 
  • Jungle oats energy bars 
  • Snacker bars
  • Mini cheddars 
  • Jack o popcorn
  • Snowflake Self-raising flour 
  • Old El Paso Taco Kit Taco shells 
  • Dew Fresh Soya Milk Soy milk 
  • Nutribev Soy milk 
  • Simply Soy Soy milk 
  • Knorrox Soya Mince Soy mince
  • Royco Vita Mince Soy mince 
  • Pure Vegetable Sausage 
  • Soy protein Spicy Soya Burger 
  • Vegee Viennas Soy protein
Tanzanian:  In November 2018 the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) welcame the decision of the Permanent to bring an immediate stop to all ongoing GMOs and field trials that was taking place in the country. These projects are under the auspices of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project which includes the very controversial international corporate Monsanto, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and national research centres. The decision verified by the Minister of Agriculture, Japheth Hasunga and the order was issued, with immediate effect, to halt all field trial operations and the destruction of all “the remnants” of the trials at the Makutupora Centre in Dodoma, where trials were taking place. This decision has come after the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) released the results of the trials without the necessary authorisation, when it invited certain members of the public, including the well-known pro GMO lobbyist, Mark Lynas, to witness how ‘well’ the genetically crops were performing. The result indicates that there was collusion between biotech lobbyists in the country and GMO researchers who paid by the Gates Foundation and others.  To use social media hype and Tanzania’s small scale farmers in an instrumentalist way as a means to justify the introduction of GMO crops in the country, claiming that Tanzanians are poor and hungry. The statements of the pro-GMO scientists have not yet been corroborated by the Ministry of Agriculture or related institutions. 

South Africa: Most South Africans, without their knowledge or consent, are unknowingly consuming genetically modified food products every single day. Local farmers are continuing to use toxic glyphosate-based products, and are farming crops that have been genetically modified and are therefore Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO). And even if these products were correctly labeled, the majority of South Africans would have little choice but to consume them,” said Haidee Swanby from African Centre for Biosafety (ACB).

The African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) welcomes the decision of the South African biosafety authorities, rejecting Monsanto’s application for the commercial release of its GMO drought tolerant triple stacked maize: MON 87460 x MON 89034 x NK 603. At its meeting on the 02 October 2018, the Executive Council: GMO Act, refused to authorize the tainted maize for commercial growing as it found that the data provided by Monsanto was insufficient to demonstrate the claimed drought tolerant and insect resistant efficacy of the GM event. In particular, the EC found that the drought tolerant field trial data presented by Monsanto for trials conducted over a period of 5 years (2014-2018) in Hopetown, Orania, Lutzville and Malelane lack truth. 

Zimbabwe: Last year Mr Bothwell Chidziwa picked up a packet of cereal from a supermarket shelf in Gwanda, convinced he was buying stuff produced organically. But the 34 year-old soon found out that he was bitterly wrong. "I bought a 750g box of Bokomo Corn Flakes from a supermarket here in Gwanda and later discovered at home that it was written, 'genetically modified maize'. I was shocked," Mr Chidziva complained in an interview. Falling industrial and agriculture production has forced Zimbabwe to depend on imports for 60 percent of its food requirements. As a result, many unmarked products extracted or made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have found their way onto supermarket shelves. But with Government unable to monitor its anti-GMO bio-safety laws effectively, the consumer has become the biggest loser. 

There is so much we do not understand that's been said about such kind of foods." Genetically modified foods are widely considered unsafe for human consumption, with a recent report from the World Health Organisation saying they caused cancers, and increased the risk of an array of illnesses. 

However, with the new standard, consumers will not be the only ones to benefit, says National Biotechnology Authority chief executive Dr Jonathan Mufandaedza. It will also enhance competitiveness for those exporting manufacturers keen to satisfy market needs for GMO-free produce. "We already issue out permits to Zimbabwean companies certifying the production of non-GMO products. The new standard becomes a competitive labelling advantage for the exporter," Dr Mufandaedza said  "The purpose of the standard is to bring in the objectivity of labelling. Labelling is not just putting on a sticker. It has to be authentic. There must be an agreement between the label and the content. "The standard will also speak to the procedures of arriving at the label, the analysis done and the key considerations which one should observe.

 Consumers want to know the bio-status of food and when you label them, it means you are saying 'we are aware of the bio-status of the product.'" As with all SAZ standards, the GMO labelling standard is a voluntary one; not mandatory. But for a nation whose Government has pronounced its policy against GMOs publicly, Zimbabwe should be looking beyond voluntary mechanisms to mandatory compliance. The SAZ/NBAZ standard admits that GMO foods are being produced, imported and consumed in Zimbabwe. Over 120 000 tonnes of GMO products were imported from South Africa in the six months to June last year. 

Endnote: Sources and information
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5178364/
  2. https://acbio.org.za/en/sa-government-rejects-monsantos-triple-stacked-gm-drought-tolerant-maize
  3. https://www.gatesfoundation.org/
  4. https://wema.aatf-africa.org/about-wema-project
  5. https://www.acbio.org.za/en/tanzania
  6. https://www.acbio.org.za/en/tanzania-orders-destruction-monsantogates-gm-trials-due-illegal-use-pro-gm-propaganda
  7. https://www.biosafetykenya.go.ke/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=133&Itemid=179
  8. https://southerntimesafrica.com/site/news/gmos-raise-heckles-in-zambia
  9. https://www.lusakatimes.com/2014/07/12/livingstone-city-council-destroys-gmo-bokomo-cornflakes-popcorns-jungle-oat-shoprite/
  10. https://www.namibian.com.na/index.php?id=111427&page=archive-read
  11. https://monsanto.com/
  12. http://bch.ncrst.na/files/files/File%201_Biosafety%20Act%20(7%20of%202006).pdf
  13. http://www.ncrst.na/

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