However, this trend is expected to change soon thanks to a newly formed body - the Botswana Bio-safety Public awareness and Participation Innovation Platform (BOPAPIP) - which will be imparting knowledge to the public and relevant stakeholders.
Speaking to Mmegi in an interview yesterday, BOPAPIP secretary Motlalepula Pholo said that this body was formed last year solely to educate the public on GMOs.
She said that they would be meeting with policymakers like Members of Parliament (MPs), parliamentary committees, Dikgosi and the general public to impart knowledge and hopefully reduce fear of the technology among the people.
The first workshop will be for media practitioners in Gaborone next week.
"We are not going out to tell people what should happen. We want discussions where there would be an exchange and sharing of information. But as for us we would be bringing in factual scientific information about GMOs," she said.
She noted that the team comprises representatives from Somarelang Tikologo, SEEDCO, National Food Technology Research Centre (NAFTEC), the Attorney General's Chamber, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, University of Botswana (UB), Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA), the farming community and bio-safety authorities from the Department of Agricultural Research.
"These people have been trained on the technology and are in a position to dispense the same factual information on
the biotechnology," she said. The team would be going out to educate the public about an international binding document under which each country is required to draw up laws that protect the public from possible risks of adopting the GMOs, Pholo added.
"People need to know all benefits and risks of using GMOs. They also have to know that there is an international instrument, Cartagena Protocol on bio-safety, which binds countries to come up with laws that would protect the public from potential risks of GMOs," she said, adding that after that "Batswana will make a decision whether they push for the laws".
It is a requirement under the protocol that countries educate their people and involve relevant stakeholders on issues regarding GMOs.
In a statement, the Department of Agricultural Research states that Botswana is still in a process of developing the national bio-safety policy and law respectively.
"The process has been delayed since 203 to date due to poor involvement of the public and stakeholders in the decision making processes due to lack of public awareness and participation strategies."
The statement adds that: "the general problem that has led to poor involvement of developing the policy and legalisation is lack of shared understanding at policy and decision-making levels on the importance of bio-safety in Botswana".