Fresh debate on safety of genetically modified foods
A new study has elicited fresh debate on the safety and health risk of genetically modified foods (GMF) even as unconfirmed report suggests that Nigeria has introduced GM varieties of corn despite rejection and opposition by most farmers.
Contrary to earlier studies that suggest that Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) diet causes aggressive cancers, degeneration of the liver and kidney and reduced life expectancy, a new Unites States (U.S.) study published last week has declared GMF safe.
The comprehensive report published last week by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, said genetically engineered (GE) crops present no more risk to human health than conventionally bred crops.
The 388-page report, based on the analysis of more than 1,000 studies on the use and effects of GM crops since the technology emerged in 1980s, also said there is some evidence that GE crops have some benefits to human health.
The authors of the independent report noted: “The committee concluded that no differences have been found that implicate a higher risk to human health safety from these GE foods than from their non-GE counterparts.
“There is some evidence that GE insect-resistant crops have had benefits to human health by reducing insecticide poisonings and decreasing exposure to fumonisins.”
The Guardian reliably gathered that Nigeria passed laws in 2012, which allowed the production and importation of GM crops.
Meanwhile, more than 100 groups representing over five million Nigerians had in March 2016 vehemently opposed attempts by Monsanto, a U.S. company, to introduce GM cotton and maize into Nigeria’s food and farming systems.
In their written objections submitted to the biosafety regulators, the groups, comprising farmers, civil society organisations, students and local communities cited numerous serious health and environmental concerns and the failure of these crops, especially the GM cotton in Africa. The groups include Environmental Rights Action Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/ FoEN), Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), All Nigeria Consumers Movement Union (ANCOMU), Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Women Environmental Programme (WEP) and Nigerian Women in Agriculture (NAWIA).
They noted: “Monsanto’s application deceitfully provides no discussion on the potential risks of glysophate use to human and animal health and the environment. Apart from the potential of contaminating local varieties, the health risk of the introduction of genetically modified maize into Nigeria is enormous considering the fact that maize is a staple that all of 170 million Nigerians depend on.”
It was gathered that Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited has applied to the National Biosafety Management Agency (NABMA) for the environmental release and placing in the market in Zaria and surrounding towns of GM cotton (Bt cotton, event MON 15985). A further application is for the confined field trial (CFT) of two GM maize varieties (NK603 and stacked event MON 89034 x NK603) in multiple locations in Nigeria.