Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Nigerians say no to Monsanto

GMO-advocates promote the biotechnology as not only safe for human consumption and the environment, it’s also a solution to malnutrition and global food security, as these crops have been genetically tinkered with to provide certain nutritional benefits and/or spliced-and-diced to resist certain pathogens and other roadblocks. For instance, Monsanto’s Water Efficient Maize for Africa, a five-year development project led by the Kenyan-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation, aims to develop a variety of drought-tolerant maize seeds.

But many Nigerians are urging the Nigerian government to reject Monsanto’s attempts to introduce genetically modified (GMO) cotton and maize into the country’s food and farming systems. One hundred organizations representing more than 5 million Nigerians, including farmers, faith-based organisations, civil society groups, students and local community groups, have submitted a joint objection to the country’s National Biosafety Management Agency (NABMA) expressing serious concerns about human health and environmental risks of genetically altered crops.

“We are totally shocked that it should come so soon after peer-reviewed studies have showed that the technology has failed dismally in Burkina Faso,” Nnimmo Bassey, the director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, one of the leading opposition groups, said in a statement. The Bt cotton is being phased out in Burkina Faso. “It has brought nothing but economic misery to the cotton sector there and is being phased out in that country where compensation is being sought from Monsanto.” He explains in a video “Genetically engineered crops are not engineered to help anybody. They are engineered to help the industry that produces the crops.” 

Monsanto’s crops are genetically enhanced to tolerate the use of the herbicide glyphosate which was declared as a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) last March. “Should commercialization of Monsanto’s GM maize be allowed pursuant to field trials, this will result in increased use of glyphosate in Nigeria, a chemical that is linked to causing cancer in humans,” Mariann Orovwuje, Friends of the Earth International’s food sovereignty co-coordinator, said in a statement. Nigeria doesn’t have a platform to test for glyphosate or other pesticide residues in food and food products, nor do they have an agency that can monitor the herbicide’s impact on the environment, including water resources.

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