GMO Foods Banned . . . As Nation Starves

Pindai Dube, The Zimbabwean, May 26, 2009

Zimbabwe’s main consumer rights group, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), has started raiding shops and supermarkets found selling Genetically Modified Foods (GMO) on grounds that it is unhealthy.

Most supermarkets and shops in the country’s biggest cities are flooded with GMO foods imported from South Africa and Brazil as local industries are still struggling to find their feet after a decade-long economic crisis.

President Robert Mugabe is blamed for pursuing ill-advised economic policies that impacted on all sectors of the economy. Most industries were forced to close shop or relocate to neighbouring countries.

As a result of the failure of local businesses, companies from neighbouring countries have flooded the local market, stockpiling shops and supermarkets with imported foods.

According to the CCZ, this has allowed GMO foods into the shops and supermarkets. CCZ which fights for the rights of consumers last week started to inspect and recommend that shops selling GMO foods should be closed.

CCZ said the GMO foods which have flooded Zimbabwewere mostly powered milk, meal- mealie, rice and chicken.

“We have received a lot of reports of people, mainly children, getting sick after consuming the foods which in most cases will be expired,” said Comfort Muchekeza, the CCZ spokesperson. “We have raided and closed several shops and supermarkets in Bulawayo for selling expired GMO foods. We are working with the health ministry to bar GMO foods from entering the country. The health ministry has mounted check-up points at the country’s borders to inspect foodstuffs coming to into the country.”

Zimbabwe has a long-standing policy against GMO food on the grounds of human safety and the potential threat that GMO crop contamination could pose for the local environment. But with over three million of people facing famine, in 2002 the Mugabe government agreed to accept GMO maize from the United States on the condition that it was milled.

ZIMRA tax rampage

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) has blasted the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) for raiding flea markets and shops saying the move scared away investors.

In the past three weeks, ZIMRA has been on rampage, confiscating goods on grounds of unpaid tax.

Addressing businesspeople in Bulawayo on Thursday ZNCC President, Obert Sibanda, said the government should stop ZIMRA officials from harassing businesspeople.

“We are being harassed night and day by ZIMRA officials, we have no peace. This scares away any potential investors at a time when the country badly needs investment to lift the economy,” said Sibanda.

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