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GMO research not prohibited in Tanzania - expert

A TOP researcher in the country has said research on genetically modified organism (GMO) in the country is neither banned nor prohibited.

Speaking during a one-day conference on political economy of GMO in Tanzania in Dar es Salaam, the country coordinator of Biotechnology Research from Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute (MARI), Dr Freddy Tairo, said instead the research should continue as planned by adhering to existing procedures and regulations.

Dr Tairo, who was speaking on the status of research on GMO crops in the country, said Tanzania had been conducting research on maize and cassava crops.

He pointed out that Tanzanians and the media misunderstood a statement made by the government on ongoing GMO research in the country. He said researchers had been directed to follow procedures, including giving the research results they had found during trials to relevant authorities to avoid confusion.

The researcher said GMO research on cassava was still going on at MARI’s laboratory and study findings would be submitted to the government for decision- making and further action.

According to the biotechnology coordinator, reasons for conducting GMO research include addressing chronic challenges such as drought, pests and diseases caused by climate change to increase agricultural productivity.

He said research on GM maize at Makutupora Research Centre in Dodoma Region aimed at finding solutions to drought, pests and diseases. “Preliminary results have shown success, especially in resistance to army-worms,” he explained.

For his part, a researcher from the University of Science and Technology of Nelson Mandela, Mr Mashamba Philipo, said the technology was good, but the government, farmers and researchers should know that it was now the right time for the technology to be implemented in Tanzania.

A researcher, Mr Emmanuel Sulle, from the University of Western Cape South Africa, said there was a need for the government to increase the budget on agricultural research to enable the country’s researchers to find solutions to problems facing farmers.

He said apart from increasing research funds, the government should also increase the number of researchers in this kind of research so that they could be able to conduct their activities in international standards.

According to Mr Sulle, researchers should look on other natural techniques that would help farmers improve their production and incomes. The conference was organised by the Department of Political Science of the University of Dar es Salaam.

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Author: FATMA ABDU, DAR ES SALAAM

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