As the Authority continues to monitor compliance levels.
THE National Biosafety Authority (NBA) last year granted 64 certificates to transit mealie meal which may contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from South Africa to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
And the Authority issued 120 non-genetically modified organism certificates to companies exporting various commodities.
NBA Chief Executive Officer Mr. Lackson Tonga said the Authority in 2023 recorded an increase in the number of applications for authority to transit commodities that may contain GMOs.
“Over 750,000 metric tons of mealie meal which may contain GMOs transited Zambia last year. In 2023 we recorded and increase in the number of companies and individuals seeking transit authorisation as over 40 companies and individuals applied compared to less than 10 in the previous year.”
Mr. Tonga also expressed happiness with the compliance levels to the Biosafety Act.
“There has been an impressive response from the suppliers and distributors as regards applying for new permits and renewing permits to placing on the market products which may contain GMOs. This shows that there is appreciable levels of compliance to the provisions of the Biosafety Act,” he said.
However, the Authority also recorded two cases of non-compliance to the Biosafety Act following inspections which revealed that two companies from 16 that were visited were non-complaint. The companies in question were cautioned and advised to adhere to the provisions of Act.
Additionally, the Authority while working with other border agencies in Livingstone and Kazungula seized 300 bags by 25 kilograms of mealie meal containing GMOs which were placed on the market without prior authorization from the Authority.
The matter was taken to court and the trader was fined.
The Authority disposed off the mealie meal since risk assessment was not conducted on the product.
And Mr. Tonga said the Authority issued 33 Permits for placing products that may contain GMO on the market.
The Authority also issued two research permits to conduct clinical trials for a Tuberculosis and Shigellosis vaccines.
The Authority, furthermore, contributed to the facilitation of trade through issuance of over 120 non-GMO certificates.
These certificates are issued to anyone wishing to export any commodity to a country where the non-GMO confirmation is a requirement. Before a non-GMO certificate is issued, samples of the products are first collected and subjected to laboratory analysis for confirmation of non-GMO presence.
Meanwhile the Authority collected 191 samples of various commodities and products including grain, mealie meal, cereals, tobacco from across the country and were subjected to GMO tests of which all tested negative except for the three samples of Texture Soya Protein which tested positive.
As result the Authority did not grant clearance for the importation of the products, that tested positive, into the country until after a risk assessment is conducted.
“We also continued monitoring the approved clinical trials and conducted routine surveillance for seed companies and farming communities. To that end, twenty (20) cotton depots representing 660 farmers were visited and on-site screening using rapid GMO test kits were conducted and all results were negative,” Mr. Tonga said.
“The Authority also continued to enhance public awareness, education and sensitization. Various stakeholders including research institutions and chiefs were engaged.”
This is contained in a statement issued by National Biosafety Authority (NBA) communications officer Sandra Lombe.