As Monsanto continues its push into Africa, an ongoing debate across the continent as to whether or not to allow the highly controversial crops has raged on.
One nation that isn’t willing to take the risks involved with genetically modified crops and imported foods, despite its problems with poverty, is Zambia, a small land-locked nation near the southern part of the continent.
The country is particularly serious about keeping GMO food imports out of their country, as recent news would suggest.
On June 6, a team comprised of Luanshya Municipal Council Health inspectors and court officials decided to send a message by destroying a shipment of foods containing “trace amounts” of genetically modified ingredients, according to The Lusaka Times website. Luanshya is a town of more than 117,000 people.
A total of 700 boxes of cornflakes from the company Bokomo were destroyed after being set ablaze at the local Council dumpsite according to the article.
The cornflakes were destroyed due to a violation of the country’s GMO importation laws, despite the small amount of GMO material within.
Overall, the food products were found to be within the country’s authorized limit of 0.9% GMO material, however the violation of the import law was what precipitated their seizure and destruction according to the city’s public relations manager Gideon Thole.
Officials Just Following the Law
The order was issued by Magistrate Edward Banda of the city, and action was taken because the South African company was in violation of the Biosafety Act of Zambia.
The company reportedly had not made an application to the National Biosafety Authority (NBA) to import the cereal containing GMOs, which is in violation of section 10 of Zambia’s Biosafety Act.
The article noted that the Ministry of Local Government and Attorney General have the right “to exercise their powers of seizure, disposal and destroy without compensation on any products containing genetically modified organisms” in accordance with Zambian law.
Incident Shows Striking Difference in Nations’ Policies
While Zambia has shown it is willing to act swiftly to protect its country from the potential risks of genetically modified food, products containing GMOs still make up a strong majority of all packaged foods in the United States and are not labeled as such after being introduced stealthily into the food supply roughly 15 years ago.
Several other countries outside of the U.S. have recently imposed bans or restrictions on GMOs as well, including in Russia, France, and China, the latter of which has continually rejected U.S. shipments of such products, especially genetically modified corn.
Zambia has banned the cultivation and importation of GMOs since 2002, when the impoverished nation declined food aid because it was mostly GMO and mostly unmilled. The aid was mostly from the United States.
To see pictures of the incident, you can click on the Lusaka Times article here.