In November 2018, Tanzania set a precedent for how genetic modification (GM) is approached in the country. Mathew Mtigumwe, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, passed an order for the cessation of all ongoing GM trials in the country which are under the supervision of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) Project. This includes Monsanto, the Gates Foundation, and national research centers.
This momentous decision was made after incidents of unauthorized access to GM trial sites and results were brought to light. Key people were given access by the Tanzania Agriculture Research and Institute (TARI) to the sites and results, including pro-GM lobbyist, Mark Lynas, revealing collusion between biotech lobbyists and GM researchers funded by the Gates Foundation.
The Permanent Secretary’s order comes at an opportune time and is a welcome response to farmers’ organizations, civil society organizations, academics from the University of Dar es Salaam, members of the scientific community, and the public’s calls to reevaluate the deployment of GM technology in the country and to prioritize sustainability and Tanzania’s smallholder farmers.
Read the ACBIO article to find out more about the public’s response to the Permanent Secretary’s order.