The government of Tanzania has announced the suspension of genetically-modified (GM) crop researches in order to conserve the country’s genetic resources and preserve local seed varieties.
GM crops are produced when DNA is artificially transferred into plant cells, altering their genetics in a bid to make them more disease resistant, nutritious and to improve their yields.
Agriculture Minister, Prof Adolf Mkenda made this known at the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) Mikocheni centre in Dar es Salaam, last week.
Mkenda stated that the suspension implies that the drought-tolerant GMO maize and cassava trail that was ongoing at TARI Mikocheni will seize operations forthwith.
He noted that the maize project was intended to tackle the periodic infestation of fall armyworm while the cassava trial was aimed at ending diseases such as the brown streak virus, among others.
The minister, however, expressed concerns over the negative impacts of GMOs on farmers adding that if the nation continues to permit the free entrance of foreign seeds, there will be seed market dominance by the upsurge of many agricultural companies.
This, he said, would force local farmers to purchase from them (the seed companies) every year and will thereafter create seed dependence.
“As of now, this is the government position. We shall conduct other types of agriculture research activities to improve our seeds and increase yield and productivity through conventional methods but not GMO research,” Mkenda maintained.