An interest group representing small scale farmer in Eastern and Southern Africa has warned the government of Tanzania not to yield to pressure from multinational corporations to weaken its biotechnology regulatory regime.
Tanzania was part of a world agriculture report developed by over 400 scientists and endorsed by more than 61 governments which called on governments and
international agencies to redirect and increase their funding towards a revolution in agriculture that is rooted in agro-ecological practices.
The report said that GMO biotechnology impacts on smallholder farmers, biodiversity, deforestation, insecticide use and intellectual property rights.
But Tanzania is currently reviewing her biotechnology regime to allow for field trial of GMO cultivation.
The group operating under the auspices of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum noted that relaxing the country’s biotechnology regulatory regime would only promote the commercial interest of biotech companies.
Regional chairman of the forum, Moses Shaha acknowledged that Tanzania has one of the best biotechnology laws in Africa and relaxing it would be counter productive. “Tanzania has strict biotechnology regulations which all of us are proud of and which should not be weakened,” Shaha said.
He was of the opinion that watering down the law against western developed GMOs sugar coated with donor money was detrimental to the future of the country’s food security and sovereignty.
Shaha said apart from destroying the regions traditional seeds, GMO has the potentials of impacting negatively on the environment and on consumer’s health.
“Multinational companies are working closely with our scientists to impose an agenda that would determine what we grow and eat,” he added.
The Tanzanian government is also facing criticisms from an alliance of anti-biotech stakeholders who cautioned that introduction of GMO crops was not the right solution to fight poverty and hunger.
Speaking for the alliance, Aida Kiangi, Tanzania’s country director of ActionAid said that “we are one of the many NGOs who have seen the fallout from this technology on smallholder farmers and their families in other countries, and I urge my fellow Tanzanians to beware of the serious risks of this technology before it is too late.”