GENETICALLY Modified Organisms (GMOs) are not the solution to increased agricultural output in Zambia, says a Zambian academician based in the US.

Professor Henry Kyambalesa said what the country needed was ambitious agricultural policies and programmes designed to overcome the salient hurdles to increased agricultural output.

Prof Kyambalesa said GMOs were not the solution because the country was blessed with good weather, fertile soil, several perennial rivers and hardworking citizens.

World Food Programme country director Pablo Recalde recently advised the government to reopen the debate on the introduction of GMOs as way of helping reduce poverty in the country.

But Prof Kyambalesa said there were a number of key issues that needed to be addressed in order to derive benefits from the agriculture sector and maintain Zambia as a GMO free country.

Prof Kyambalesa said inconsistent and unrealistic agricultural policies and inadequate investment in agricultural development by the government was limiting increased agricultural output.

“…In 2000, the Comesa secretary general identified an array of factors limiting increased agricultural production in Zambia,” Prof Kyambalesa said.

“They are as follows, non-availability of financial capital, and the high cost of agricultural credit; inadequate transport and storage infrastructure, and the high cost of transport.”

He said other factors included the under-provision and high cost of agricultural inputs; an inefficient agricultural marketing system; inadequate skills in agricultural production and marketing.

Prof Kyambalesa said late president Levy Mwanawasa did the right thing to refuse relief food from the USA which was genetically modified, describing it as “poisonous” and “intrinsically dangerous”.

“It is important to note that genetically engineered foods do not taste better, they are not more nutritious, they do not cost less, and they do not look nicer than non-genetically modified foods,” he said.

Prof Kyambalesa said there were numerous potential risks to human health, the environment and the economy associated with using GMOs.

(The Post Online- June 14 2011)