CSOs caution against scientists’ claim on safety of GMOs
Piqued by the mounting claims by scientists that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are safe for consumption, a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has cautioned Nigerians against such assertions.The coalition of 23 CSOs, at the end of the ‘Seed, Food and Biosafety Conference’ yesterday in Abuja, argued that even as genetic engineering is a science, non-scientists must not swallow whatever the engineers churn out hook, line and sinker.
According to the CSOs, the GMO promoters’ claim that the products have not been scientifically proved to be harmful to humans or the environment does not hold water, adding that Nigerians don’t have to be molecular biologists before they can reject GMOs and insist on natural seeds.
The coalition includes Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), GMO-Free Nigeria Alliance, Association for Plant Breeding for the Benefit of Society (APBREBES), Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) and Bio Integrity and Natural Foods Awareness Initiative (BINFAI).Others are Heinrich Boell Foundation, Nigerians Against GMOs, Urban-Rural Environmental Defenders, Cassava Growers Association of Nigeria and Women in Agriculture.
“If a scientists tells me that cigarettes are good for my health, should my response be an applause or Amen? Or if an engineer or architect swears that a collapsing building is safe, should I move in and begin to decorate it? Or would my painting it over with graffiti or poetry change the status of the building?” they argued.
The group, however, said ‘no’ to neo-colonialism through the use of modern agricultural biotechnology, as colonialism and neocolonialism are implicated in the disruption of food systems and introduction of unnatural plants and animals.“Agricultural biotechnology will foster corporate control of food production and disrupt local economies, and thus we oppose its use in Nigeria,” they added.
Executive director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, cited a recently decided case in the United States of America in which a gardener was awarded millions of dollars for getting cancer after exposure to the glyphosate in the Bayer/Monsanto’s herbicide round up.Stressing that Nigeria does not need to genetically modify its food system, he called on the federal government to study the country’s seeds, agriculture and food system.
He said: “We cannot continue to be a testing ground for risky technologies developed elsewhere.”