By DAILY NEWS Reporter, 19th March 2010 @ 22:00, Total Comments: 1, Hits: 297 PRIME Minister Mizengo Pinda has rubbished opposition to genetically engineered foods, commonly known as GMO products, saying the protagonists were riding on ill-informed fears. The premier made these remarks -- the first such statement from a high ranking government official -- at a beachfront facility (Kunduchi Beach Hotel) in Dar es Salaam, where he presided over a meeting of the country's top researchers, scientists and policy makers. He had also personally convened this meeting of brains between the scientists and government bureaucracy in order to give added push to the current agricultural blueprint, Kilimo Kwanza. "It's foolish even to imagine that we would be the only clever ones around as our neighbours all around us push ahead with the promises of biotechnology in agriculture," he said, adding that next-door Kenya and India were already way ahead of us in this field. He lashed at sections of gullible Tanzanians who went around spreading rumours that people could suffer from weird deformities -- or that we could soon have six-legged animals in our midst -- just on account of consuming GMO foods. "Do we think we are the only smart ones on this score?" the premier queried, literally giving his listeners a clean bill -- if they still had any lingering doubts on the government's position on GMO products. The premier's remarks were in response to Dr Roshan Abdallah of the Arusha-based Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) -- who has done pioneering work on how to produce GMO foods sustainably without harming the immediate environment or human health. He said biotechnology had since made inroads in other areas such as health products and other industrial products. Earlier, Dr Roshan had informed the prime minister that initial trials on GMO cotton had revealed that the country could produce quality lint from disease-free genetically engineered plants. "Let's have the experts ... our own experts ... lead the way in this instead of listening to people who have nothing to show for their opposition -- except ignorance and hearsay," Mr Pinda said, to the delight of the applauding scientists. In another development, the prime minister has assured scientists of the government's pledge to boost research and development (R&D) funding to at least one per cent of the country's gross development product (GDP), saying this was a directive from President Jakaya Kikwete himself. "I want my 'one per cent' this time round," Mr Pinda told the scientists, quoting the head of state as having directed him to communicate the message to Treasury officials attending the meeting. Two years ago, the president pledged that he would work toward increasing R&D spending from its current 0.03 to one per cent of GDP -- but the move was held back because the budget for the following year (2009) had since been approved. FOR COLLEAGUES WHO ARE WELL INFORMED OF GENETICALLY MODEFIED (GM) PRODUCTS, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE EFFECT OF GM-PRODUCTS FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION?