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Local expert explains Dar's GMOs delay
by Zephania Ubwani
21-January-2012 The Citizen
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Arusha. Legal technicalities, rather than safety concerns, could be the main reason for the delay by Tanzania to embrace the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) technology, an expert observed here on Monday.

This is because of fears of liabilities in case the application of the technology led to some problems. The technology has consistently been criticized by activists and experts alike, locally and abroad.

Dr Roshan Abdallah, the director of technical services of the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) said there are still concerns on the genetically engineered organisms, especially to the agricultural sector.

She stated this when briefing dons from the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST), that reservations people have on GMOs was behind failure by the government to operationalise the National Biotechnology Policy.

She said the policy was passed in 2010 and was expected to embrace the positive aspects of biotechnology, GMOs being one of them.

Dr Abdallah, one of the lead scientists to spearhead research on the issue, said Tanzania has prepared itself for biotechnology for some years, but regretted that the drive to realize it appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

"Tanzania has prepared itself for GMOs. These include developing and putting in place bio-safety regulations and guidelines," she said as she took experts from the newly-established university around TPRI laboratories.

She added that many policy makers and officials are still scared of GMOs despite sensitisation campaigns that have been going on, especially since 2006 when TPRI started to lay ground for research trials.

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