By Tina Amanda

Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and the GMO-Free Nigeria Alliance has commended the House of Representatives on the resolution to comprehensively investigate the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into Nigeria and for a halt to the approval of new products pending the completion of that investigation.

This resolution is reported to have followed the adoption of the motion by Rep. Muktar Shagaya at a plenary session held on Thursday 16 May, 2024.

In a press statement, the group noted that the investigation which has been long overdue is vital to save the country from the dangerous path of food colonialism, contamination of our genetic resources, loss of biodiversity/nutritional diversity, soil degradation, and overall disruption of our agriculture and food systems.

The lawmaker rightly explained, that the introduction of GMOs in Nigeria raises serious concerns about safety, regulatory oversight, and their potential impacts on the country’s biosafety.

According to the Executive Director of HOMEF, Dr Nnimmo Bassey, “This investigation must be unbiased and thorough. To ensure this, the National Assembly should engage independent researchers to avoid contamination of the process by GMO promoters.

“This investigation should consider Nigeria’s agricultural landscape and investigate the underlying causes of hunger/food insecurity and as well establish definite measures
to address those issues. This is the time to rescue Nigerians from being
used for risky experimentations.”

In her submission, Food Sovereignty Activist and Deputy Executive Director at Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje, said there is a need to critically examine the National Biosafety Management Agency Act for its fitness purpose. That law
needs to be completely reworked to close existing loopholes including
the composition of its governing/decision-making board by excluding GMO promoters such as the National Biotechnology Development Agency; the lack of provision on strict liability, inadequate public consultation measures, absolute decision-making powers of the agency, minimal reference to the precautionary principle, and many others.

The House of Representatives has urged the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to ensure labeling of GM crops already in the country. In reaction to this, HOMEF’s Director of Programmes and lead on Hunger Politics, Joyce Brown noted that the Agency will need to devise strategies to have foods sold in local
markets in basins, by the roadsides, and in processed forms like Ogi and Akara labeled to ensure informed decision-making by the majority of people who purchase food from these sources.

“This exercise will prove that GMOs do not fit our socio-economic context. Over the years, market shelf surveys conducted by HOMEF have revealed over 50 different processed/packaged foods labeled as produced using genetically modified ingredients, also revealed the fact that majority of our people do not read labels”.

Brown advised that permits for commercialization of the Bt Cowpea, Tela Maize, Bt Corn, and all other GMOs be suspended pending the result of the investigation by the House
Committee on Agriculture and others.

The statement reaffirmed the submission by Rep. Muktar Shagaya that we need to prioritize public health, biodiversity, increased support of smallholder farmers in terms of extension service, provision of infrastructure (to curtail waste), access to credits, access to land, and the growth of our local economy. Nigeria should adopt agroecological farming which aligns well with our socio-economic and socio-cultural context. Agroecology delivers increased productivity and economic resilience, revises/nourishes ecosystems, strengthens local economies, mitigates climate change, and promotes food sovereignty.

We all have a role in saving the environment. See something, Say Something.

Leave a Reply