HARARE, May 27 — The Zimbabwe government says it will focus on boosting production of non-gentically modified organisms (GMO) foods as it targets exploiting markets where there is high demand for naturally produced foods, says Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr. Joseph Made.

Reiterating that the production and sale of products containing GMO remains banned in the country, he told journalists here Monday: “This is a Cabinet position as it relates to GMOs, that we will not allow the introduction of GMO materials.”

He added that the government was working on initiatives to increase productivity in the country without resorting to GMOs. Zimbabwe is facing increasing pressure to allow GMOs into the country because of its slumping agricultural production.

In defending the ban on GMOs, the Zimbabwean authorities argue that no conclusive study has been carried out, especially on their effects on health. “What matters to us is timely availability of inputs. Those are the critical matters that will see us increasing production and not GMO material per se,” Dr. Made said.

He said seed products from Zimbabwe were in demand in some African countries because they were free GMOs and added that the government was working on re-establishing beef exports to the European Union.
The EU banned Zimbabwean beef exports over a decade ago because of disease outbreaks.

“It is not a secret that all beef entering the European market must be GMO-free. We are mindful of the fact that there is a niche market that relates to our own beef and we would like to participate in the sector because we are GMO-free,” he said.

He said the government would soon re-establish fences across the country to prevent free movements of animals in a bid to prevent the spread of diseases such as foot and mouth disease.