Zimbabwe has banned genetically modified chicken from South Africa amid complaints that producers there are flooding the Zimbabwe market. But South African producers say there's no such thing as GMO chicken.
Johannesburg, South Africa
ZImbabwe has banned chickens and all poultry from South Africa, accusing its southern neighbor of supplying genetically modified poultry.
But what does 'genetically modified' poultry mean, exactly?
"The accusations by Zimbabwe that we are supplying genetically modified chickens are without substance," says Kevin Lovell, the chief executive officer of the South Africa Poultry Association (SAPA). "There is no such thing as a genetically modified chicken anywhere in the world. Even if a person, a chicken, or a cow for that matter, eats genetically modified maize that does not make you genetically modified since you cannot change your own genes by eating food."
Mr. Lovell accuses Zimbabweans of looking for excuses to avoid having to compete with the highly efficient and sophisticated South African poultry industry.
"Prior to this action they had attempted to ban imports from South Africa through false claims of Rift Valley Fever being present on our chickens but chickens cannot get this disease," says Lovell. "Then they suddenly changed their standards with regard to flavor enhancement and now that we have proved that we comply with the new standard they are looking for another excuse."
Zimbabwe Poultry Association (ZPA) Chairman, Solomon Zawe, complains that South African producers are flooding the market, putting Zimbabwean producers out of work.
“The industry could not recover fully while the chicken imports continued to flood the market," says Zawe. "However, the ban has hit major South African importers who have now resorted to smuggling the imported chickens.”
The chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe-based Crest Poultry Group, Tapera Mpezeni, says Zimbabwe is addressing the issue.