HOMEF accuses scientists of hiding truth about GM crops
Anti-GM agitators not informed, says AATF
With scientists making conflicting assertions on the safety of Genetically-Modified (GM) crops, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has accused them of concealing the truth about the safety of the biotechnology-enhanced crops.
HOMEF Director, Nnimmo Bassey, disclosed this during a roundtable with lawyers on promoting biosafety in Nigeria at the weekend in Abuja.
He accused the promoters of arm-twisting government and the media into believing that adoption of biotechnology was the only solution to the country’s food crisis.
According to him, it has been scientifically proven untrue the claims that GM crops yield higher than natural varieties, or that farmers would use less chemicals because the crops have been engineered to resist pests and act as herbicides.
Scientists deliberately conceal the harmful effect of dependence on the crops and chemicals, he insisted.
Bassey explained that the herbicide-tolerant crops would initially withstand chemicals, but after a while the weeds would build resistance and become super weeds requiring a higher dose of the chemicals.
His words, “This chemicals don’t only kill weeds, they kill other beneficial organisms in the soil and water where they can be washed into. It would be noted that ‘Roundup’ has glyphosate as a major component and this is a carcinogen.”
Also, Country Director of Food Sovereignty Programme, Mariam Orovwuje, while speaking on the soon-to-be-commercialised GM crops, ‘Bt Cotton’ and ‘Bt Beans’ designed to kill certain pests, explained that naturally occurring Bt was different from the genetically-engineered ones.
While the natural Bt has a short life span when exposed to sunlight, the biotech variant persists with implications and consequences, she noted.
Meanwhile a botanist, Jamie Ikeotuonye, said despite claims by pro-GM groups that the bean and cotton were yet to be commercialised in the country, “Nigerians are already consuming GM foods.”
But the spokesperson of Africa Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), Alex Abutu, denied the allegation, saying there were about 16 agricultural research institutes across the country with the mandate to improve on the research work.
“From Niger to Ekiti, Abia, Zaria, Cross River and Kaduna among others, there are scientists working on GM crops, is it possible for the so-called promoters to bribe them all?” he queried.
Accusing the anti-GM groups of lacking adequate information about developments in the country, he said scientists who kept improving on the crops to ensure human safety had addressed most of their concerns to avoid risks.