Nothing is making sense anymore as the debate rages over the safety of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) mealie meal being imported from South Africa and who is supposed to consume it.

Initially, the assurance given by the government was that the imported maize was for onward sale to the Democratic Republic of Congo.  It was not for local consumption.

But on Tuesday, another twist was added to the story that again begs more questions than answers.

Agriculture Minister Mtolo Phiri announced that the imported mealie meal would be sold in Zambia’s border towns to ease the deficit of the commodity the country has been facing.

And herein lies our concern.

Will Zambians in border areas be exempted from buying and consuming this GMO mealie meal that Government says is not for local consumption.

Will Zambians have access to the locally produced mealie meal in the border areas while the foreigners buy the imported mealie meal and suffer whatever health issues come up?

Government should come clear on this and explain how it would differentiate on who buys the imported GMO mealie meal in border areas, and being mindful that local and foreign consumers are not easily identified.

Mr Phiri said the GMO mealie meal from South Africa would soon be in the country’s border towns as government has commenced the importation of the commodity.

Mr Phiri says the motive of importing mealie meal was to ensure that the border areas were flooded with mealie meal from South Africa to meet the demand.

“The mealie meal coming from outside, will not find itself in our local stores like Choppies, Shoprite. The mealie meal is for the border areas and we are taking mealie meal to border areas so that our colleagues coming from outside can afford to find the product, buy it and go back,” Mr Phiri said.

Of concern to the public though are reports that the GMO mealie meal is already in the country and has found its way in some township shops in Lusaka.

Government must therefore provide answers how the National Biosafety Authority recently seized 19 bags of GMO mealie-meal from South Africa from a shop in Bauleni Township of Lusaka, being illegally sold to the public.

The shop keeper revealed that they were supplied with 50 bags of the GMO mealie-meal and 30 had already been sold out.

This clearly gives credence to a statement by National Democratic Congress president Saboi Imboela that the decision to import GMO mealie-meal from South Africa may have been predetermined before Government made pronouncements to give permits for the importation of the commodity to satisfy the demand from the Congo DR.

As we noted in our Tuesday edition, the current mealie-meal shortage in the country has yet again triggered a controversial and historical issue with regard the safety of GMO maize and products for human and animal consumption.

The debate on the safety and toxicity of GMO first emerged in 2003 when the MMD administration rejected a consignment of GMO maize food relief aid when nearly 30 percent of Zambia’s population, which then stood at 10.2 million, faced starvation.

The debate on GMO has resurfaced 20 years later and the questions on its safety have again arisen after Government’s decision to import GMO-mealie-meal from South Africa for onward “export” to neighbouring Congo DR and for sale in border areas.

Why must Zambians on the borders be exposed to the controversial GMO mealie meal, are they second-class citizens?

Please explain for it’s is not making sense at all.

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