National Inter-Religious Council moves against genetically-modified crops
• Accuses regulatory agency of promoting the technology
The National Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) has raised concern over the increasing circulation of genetically-modified crops in the country without appropriate monitoring by the National Biotechnology Management Agency (NBMA).
The religious body had raised the concern following several complaints it received on the possible dangers of the unguarded release of GMOs into the Nigerian agriculture and food chain.
In a communique made available to journalists in Abuja by the Director, Heart of the Mother Foundation (HOMEF), Ninmo Bassey, the body accused the NBMA of promoting Genetically-Modified Crops (GMOs) in the country rather than regulating the development of the crops.
The statement pointed out that the NBMA does not have enough equipment, laboratories, network of experts and funding for its work as the agency has not been able to police the biotechnology industry enough to allow the opening of the sector of the national life to wide foreign interests.
The body, therefore, recommended that with the present situation, it is not advisable to go on with GMO in Nigeria, adding that it must be curtailed and mechanisms for their indigenous research, development and self-ownership of the intellectual property rights in their regard guaranteed.
It also stressed the need for serious monitoring of imported food and agricultural products to ensure they do not consist of unverified GMOs.
The HOMEF director further lamented that despite outcries by the public on the health hazards of GMOs, NBMA had within two years it was established, approved the confined field trials of three GMO crops, including maize, cotton and cassava.
The group, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently take a stand on the GMO technology and look into the National Biosafety Management Act and the biosafety management architecture of the country before it is too late.
It also stressed the need to block several loopholes that allow the influx of GMOs to preserve lives and livelihood of the people.