Experts seek moratorium on GM crops release
Experts have canvassed the need to place a 10-year moratorium on the further release of Genetically Modified crops until the country is able to label its food in the open market.
A Molecular biologist, Dr. Kashima Ifeanyi, who said this during a sensitisation workshop, organised for farmers by the Health of the Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) in Abuja, challenged the National Biotechnology Development Agency and principal researchers behind the production of BTbeans to a national debate to establish sufficient grounds why a decade of moratorium should not be placed on further release of the variety.
He said: “We want a situation whereby when I go to the market, I will have an option of buying either GM beans or non-GM beans because if that is not put in place, we are destroying our population, hence we must put in place a moratorium.”
Ifeanyi, who also stressed the need to appraise the damage done by GM crops to human health, the environment and biodiversity, however, lamented the unwholesome release of GM crops in the country without the knowledge of most Nigerians, saying it’s important to sensitise Nigerians on what has happened to the country’s food system and the steps to be taken.
The molecular biologist said: “We are telling farmers that there is no need to grow GM crops as GM crops were sold to them unknowingly. For instance, they were told it would transform their economy, but that has not happened these days. We are inundated with the calls to support kidney transplants, but it was not so 20 years back, that means that something has gone wrong.”
Also speaking, the Executive Director of HOMEF, Ninmo Bassey, asserted that farmers can be more productive when using traditional means than using artificial means and depending on chemicals and GMOs that are harmful to the soil and biodiversity, as well as the health.
Bassey said the meeting was prompted due to the unwholesome release of GM crops, such as corn, rice, cotton, and beans (Bt cowpea), including the incursion into staples like cassava.
“We need to let farmers know what happened to our food systems and the steps that need to be taken. If the government cannot put in place measures to preserve our traditional foods, then as stakeholders, we need to enlighten the farmers…”