HOMEF, CSOs petition Lagos government, seek repeal of NBMA Act, others
The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and other civil society groups (CSOs) yesterday demanded a ban on genetically modified organisms (GMO) foods in the country and repeal of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Act.
The groups, which comprised farmers, youths, women, scientists, medical practitioners, lawyers, scholars and students, marched to the office of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu in Alausa to protest against unrestrained release of GMOs and the Act enabling their cultivation and consumption in Nigeria.
Other groups that signed the petition are the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Joint Action Front (JAF), Earthcare Foundation, Child Health Organisation and Centre for Children Health, Education Orientation and Protection (CEE-Hope), among others.
Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, who led the rally, said: “While we appreciate the Federal Government and states’ efforts to promote agricultural development in the country, we are concerned about aspects that would scuttle these efforts and push Nigerians into acute food insecurity in the long-term.
“We are submitting this petition through you because Lagos, by virtue of its enviable position among states of the federation and its population, is most at risk to receive GMOs.
“We demand a ban on GMOs and a repeal of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Act, which came into force in 2015 and was reviewed in 2019 to include emerging and even more contentious aspects of extremely risky modern biotechnology.”
He explained that GMOs were products of genetic engineering, which is a technology that allows scientists to create plants, animals and micro-organisms by manipulating genes at the cellular level in a way not possible through traditional or natural processes.
Speaking further in company of Deputy Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Akinbode Oluwafemi, Achike Chude of Justice Development and Peace Commission and Abiodun Aremu of Joint Action Front, among others, he sought a nullification of the permits issued for the importation and release of genetically-modified maize, beans and cotton into the country.
They also demanded close surveillance of markets and farms to halt illegal entry of GMOs into Nigeria, food supply and ban of all toxic agro-chemicals, especially glyphosate containing those identified as probable carcinogens.
“We demand a halt to the assault on our agriculture through genetic modification of our staple crops, including cassava. We urge that Nigeria should be circumspect about technologies that aim to contaminate the environment, destroy agriculture, culture and rupture the socio-economic fabric and assert unbridled control over our agriculture and foods.
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