HOMEF, coalition urge government to ban GMOs
A coalition of civil society under the aegis of GMO-Free Nigeria Alliance and Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), yesterday, canvassed urgent ban of genetic modification of food crops and animals due to its negative impact on agriculture and alteration of the ecosystem.
They also demanded a repeal of the National Biosafety Management Agency Act (NBMA) due to the enormous discretionary powers conferred on the agency and little room for oversight.
Displaying placards with inscriptions such as “No to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), Our food our life”, the group, in a peaceful rally, marched round the city centre in Benin and submitted a petition to the Edo State Ministry of Environment and Sustainability.
Presenting the petition to Permanent Secretary, Edo State Ministry of the Environment, Lucky Wasa, Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, said the farming system in which GMOs were used would lead to land grabs, impoverish small- holder farmers and concentrate power in a few industrial farmers.
Bassey, who was represented by Project Lead of HOMEF, Cadmus Atake-Enade, said contrary to belief that there were no GMOs in the Nigerian market, a survey carried out between 2018 and 2020 revealed the presence of over 30 different products labeled as containing genetically modified ingredients.
He, therefore, recommended that government should address the root causes of the challenges of food production, pests and diseases. Bassey also urged the government to support Agroecology and provide farmers with the needed infrastructure, extension services, access to land, credit schemes and good road networks to enable them to produce food optimally.
He said Nigerians were consuming foods bought from the market shelves ignorant that they were made from GMOs, insisting that the manner in which the items were imported into the country was worrisome.
“We demand ban on GMOs and repeal of the National Biosafety Management Agency Act which came into force in the year 2015 and was reviewed in 2019 to include emerging and even more contentious aspects of extremely risky modern biotechnology.
“Nigeria does not need GMOs. They are promoted on false premises. Research has shown that GMOs do not give higher yields and are not more nutritious than normal crops,” he added.
Receiving the petition, Wasa, who was represented by Director, Environment Citation and Safety Services, Blessing Egharevba, commended the groups for the campaign, noting that the ministry’s aim was to ensure sustenance of the environment for the future generations.