THE National Biotechnology Authority of Zimbabwe (NBA) has commissioned the first ever Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) testing laboratory in Zimbabwe, valued at $200 000.
Officiating at the launch ceremony, Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Dr Godfrey Gandawa said the lab would go a long way and addressing questions and mystries surrounding GMOs and their impact in Zimbabwe.
By Pearson Mbendera
The capacity to address bio-safety issues is of utmost importance to the development and wellbeing of any nation.
“Our government places the safety of its people and the environment at the core of its responsibility and the mandate of the NBA is to provide adequate regulatory framework for the protection of the environment, perceived human and animal health from the perceived risks associated technology transfer applications such as biotechnology,” said Gandawa.
The infrastructure is a level 1 bio-safety laboratory and will be available to members of academia, research companies and schools that are working on GMOs.
The NBA is a regulatory body and they will use the facility for GMO detection, quantification, identification, monitoring and surveillance.
It is expected that the laboratory will increase the regulatory capacity of the NBA by about 10% and it will contribute to the development of the National Bio-safety Framework.
Meanwhile, Dr Gandawa said plans were underway to set more laboratories around the country.
“This Bio-safety level 1 laboratory is our initial step towards the development of a bigger infrastructure called the National Bio-safety Reference Laboratory which shall have levels 2 to 4.”
GMOs are still illegal in Zimbabwe and government has maintained its anti GMO policy despite calls by different sections of society to adopt the them.
Dr. Jonathan Mufandaedza who is the CEO and Registrar of NBA noted the need to create awareness on GMO and GMO testing to the people saying,
“We have been engaging the people to ensure that they are aware of the GMOs. Right now we are hoping that the people will spread the word so that we can beat the negative perceptions associated with GMOs.”