The government and all well wishers have been urged to wage a spirited campaign against the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMO) crops in the country.
The call was made by Kigoma North MP Kabwe Zuberi Zitto (Chadema), pictured, who said introducing GMO crops in the country would make farmers slaves of multinational seed companies.
The flamboyant MP was contributing to the debate on estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, tabled early yesterday by the minister, Christopher Chiza.
“I have been frightened to hear that the government is still campaigning for the introduction of GMO crops in the country. This is indeed frightening,” Zitto said.
By accepting GMO crops, Tanzania was submitting itself to the hands of colonists as it would be required to depend wholly on them to get seed for planting regular crops.
He said apart from creating dependency on multinational companies in seed production, GMO seed had negative consequences on environment. He called for the continued efforts to improve existing conventional seeds.
“Honourable Speaker, our country has no ability to generate GMO seed, which means we are creating dependency on international companies already indulging in intense agricultural technology. We should find ways to empower our farmers by enabling them have access to improved conventional seeds instead of wanting them to get seeds from shops,” he urged.
Tabling estimates for the ministry, Chiza said application of GMO technology in agriculture could improve the quality of seeds, productivity, reduce costs of production and conserve environment by reducing application of pesticides.
However, the minister expressed fear on the technology if it is not properly researched and handled. He demanded properly carrying out of research on the agricultural technology before being rolled out.
According to the minister, GMO seeds if not properly researched and handled, could have effects on biodiversity, natural vegetation, pollination of crops, touching off allergies, encourage hazardous weeds adapted to the crops creating dependency on a few companies.
Prof David Mwakyusa, the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water told the House that the government should come out with clear information on the technology as available data were scaring to the public.
“The government should sensitize the public about pros and cons of the technology,’” Prof Mwakyusa said.
He implored the government to review guidelines that are now found at the Vice President’s Office, which according to Prof Mwakyusa, are a hindrance to application of the agricultural technology in the country.