LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Malawi’s Parliamentary Committee on Women Caucus, said it supports the current research on Genetically Modified (GM) crops in a bid to avert another food crisis in Malawi.
The Committee’s stand comes amid heavy debate among the public on whether the Malawi should embrace GM crops surpassing hybrid seed for increased food production.
The Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) is currently undertaking several crops trials, including cow peas, soya been, and cotton seed.
The introduction of GM studies in Malawi comes with misgivings that the crops enhances with technological additives, cause cancer.
In a day-long biotechnology and biosafety conference, which the Parliamentary Women’s Caucus held on Wednesday in Lilongwe, backed the trials in a bid to avert a food crisis.
The conference attracted lawmakers from Uganda, and Malawi, and they emphasized the need for thorough consultation and massive awareness campaign on the matter.
In an interview with The Maravi Post, the Committees Chairperson, Dr. Jessie Kabwira, said the country should embrace technologies that improve people’s lives coupled with safety.
Dr. Kabwira who is also a legislator for Salima North-West, urged the researchers on GM crops to come clearly to the public on the mist surrounding the initiative.
“Malawi still relies on maize as its staple food. But its production is dwindling that seed technologies including GM crops, would be ideal to avert the food crisis.
“However, the trials outcomes must also always have people’s safety; and that sensitization campaign must roll out to rural farmers to embrace the food technology. The trials must be in line with the country’s laws,” said Kabwira.
In her remark, the visiting Ugandan Parliamentary Committee on ICT Chairperson, Anent Nyakecho said Malawi was on the right direction on biotechnologies.
Nyakecho, who is also a law maker for Tororo North County in Uganda, added that there must be laws that commands safety measures on people’s lives.
She said her country is currently legislating the biotechnology sector with the biosafety approach coupled with the rural farmers’ consultation, from which she said Malawi could learn.
Dr. Wezzie Mkwaila, LUANAR’s lecturer in genetic and breeding department assured the public that trials taken at the University, takes all safety measures to contain any hazardous effects can have on people.
Dr. Mkwaila however, disputed claims that GM crops causes cancer; she said the assertion was broad and has no scientific evidence.
The biosafety Act was passed in 2002, biosafety regulations in 2007 and the national biotechnology and biosafety policy were enacted in 2008.
Malawi has a fully functional biosafety regulatory committee that deliberates on applications for trials and a functional biosafety registrar’s office.
These instruments have made it possible for Malawi to progress with trials of the three genetically modified crops, which are now at different stages as the country gears up for commercializing.