Query: How has the proliferation of genetically modified organisms in the Namibian market affected local agriculture producers?
Response: Firstly, Namibia and the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry – as a custodian of agriculture products – do not grow GMO crops. The issue of Genetically Modified Organisms/ Living Modified Organisms (GMO/LMO) related production will only be clear once our Biosafety Act 2006 is fully implemented. Take note that there might be GMO-derived products in the market, but these are market issues. Although the ministry is one of the main stakeholders in the Biosafety Act that regulates GMO/LMO products, jurisdiction resides with the ministry responsible for science and technology.
Query: What does the law say about GMOs?
Response: The law provides for measures to regulate activities involving the research, development, production, marketing, transport, application and other uses of GMOs and specified products derived from GMOs.
Query: Does government have any policy in place to protect local farmers from GMOs?
Response: Government, in addition to Biosafety Act 2006, through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has in place the Namibia Food Safety Policy, as well as the National Agriculture Policy.
Query: What percentage of GMOS is allowed in agriculture products?
Response: Currently the National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) is busy annexing the GMO regulations. Once this is done the regulation will indicate the GMO percentage or threshold allowed in agriculture products.
Query: Does the government educate farmers on the need to protect their products from competing GMO producs?
Response: Public awareness is at the top of the agenda (Cartagena Protocol, Article 23 and the Biosafety Act of 2006). However, we are anticipating that public awareness related to dealing with GMO/LMO products will intensify once the Biosafety Act is fully implemented.
Margaret Kalo, senior public relations officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org