CSOs, farmers seek revocation of permit for commercial GM beans
• Urge FG to reject application of GM cassava field trials
• Govt to ban tomato import this year
A coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs), including the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), and farmer groups have called on the Federal Government to revoke permit for the commercialisation of BT cowpea (beans) for cultivation in Nigeria.
They also demanded the rejection of the application for field trials of cassava clone, asserting that the processes of approving the artificial crops threaten human and environmental health.This was at the heels of the commercial release of permit for genetically-modified (GM) cowpea by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) to the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, Kaduna State.
The coalition maintained that the commercial release of the GM beans would not only contaminate indigenous varieties, but also place them at risk and expose farmers and people to avoidable risks.
According to them, this cowpea containing the transgene Cry1Ab has not been approved for commercial use anywhere in the world, as the use of the Bt gene was discontinued in South Africa.The statement added: “Current research has revealed that protein produced by this transgene has toxic effects on human liver cells and induces alterations in immune systems of laboratory animals. From the study of pollinator characteristics of the natural West African wild cowpea populations, which reveals that the Bt gene will move from the genetically-modified lines to non-modified lines of both cultivated and wild relatives, resulting in other plants gaining the resistance trait that will cause an alteration in ecological balance and present adverse effects.”
HOMEF director, Nnimmo Bassey, pointed out that “it is clearly impossible to label genetically-engineered beans and its products in Nigeria,” adding that our socio-cultural setting makes it impossible to give Nigerians the right of choice through labelling of GMOs.
In the same vein, the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Audu Ogbeh, said in Kano that the Federal Government would place final ban on the importation of tomato paste before the end of 2019, ostensibly to encourage massive local production.
Ogbeh, who was on fact-finding tour alongside the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele, to Dangote Tomato Processing Plant at Kadawa in Garun-Mallam Council of Kano State, said the Muhammadu Buhari government would embark on tomato revolution across the country as part of its diversification policy in agriculture.According to him, N250 billion has already been earmarked by the CBN, through the Bank of Agriculture, to disburse as soft loans to tomato out-growers.