Government orders research institute to stop all GMO trials and destroy test material

The Tanzanian government has banned GMO field trials, according to an article in the country's online newspaper The Citizen.

The article says, "Members of the research community were in shock that the government did not only ban ongoing trials on GM seeds but also directed the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (Tari) to immediately destroy evidence of the research."

Tanzania has been carrying out field trials for GMO maize in Makutopora in Dodoma region and for cassava at the Mikocheni Agriculture Research Institute in Dar es Salaam.

Ministry of agriculture permanent secretary Mathew Mtigumwe revealed the government's decision in a brief statement on Wednesday in Dodoma.

According to the statement, the government was unhappy that Tari appeared to release field trial results without prior approval by other authorities. "Tari has recently invited various groups to Makutopora centre to witness its research findings when the government is yet to approve use of GM products in the country," said Mr Mtigumwe.

Newly appointed agriculture minister Japheth Hasunga said that Tari had contravened government approval procedures. "They were supposed to give my ministry the findings which in turn would have consulted with other ministries to satisfy ourselves that the said GM seeds were safe and did not carry any risks to humans," he said.

The minister said that the Tanzania Seeds Certification Institute was also supposed to examine the seeds and recommend a way forward.

The article reflects a state of confusion and conflict in the country about GMOs, against a background of apparent arrogance and negligence on the part of the Tari research institute, which seems to have failed to observe proper protocols. As more information emerges, we'll keep our readers informed.