OPEN LETTER TO MR PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI & THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE CHIEF AUDU OGBEH, ON THE CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGERS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS TO NIGERIAN AGRICULTURE AND THE NIGERIAN CITIZEN.
We congratulate you on the smooth take-off of your administration and are proud to note that your tentative steps are repositioning Nigeria to its place in the comity of nations. We are a group of concerned citizens who are worried about the surreptitious introduction of Genetically Modified Crops into our food ecosystem and write to save the Nigerian populace, from the dangers of this invidious biotechnology.
As you are undoubtedly aware, the PDP led government on MONDAY April 20, 2015, one week before the handover, signed the National Bio-safety Agency Bill into law. The Bio-safety bill empowers NABDA, a creation and partner of MONSANTO, to regulate and open the country to the commercialization of genetically modified crops (GMO).
Mr President, Mr Minister, Actions speak louder than words. In the past month alone 19 countries of the European Union(EU) have Ban GMO’s in their countries.
This includes Germany the most powerful nation in the union. The German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidit announced that in addition to its existing bans on GMO cultivation, it will make use of the “Opt-out” rules to stop GMO crop cultivation even if varieties are approved by the EU.
Other countries include: Austria, Belgium for the Wallonia region, Britain for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia.
Furthermore 6 of the 8 most advanced countries on the planet (The G-8) have banned GMO’s. These include France, Germany, Japan, Russia, England and Italy.
In the words of the Russian Prime Minister, Medvedev “If the Americans like to et GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” Despite several empirical evidence and calls from the world’s leading scientists linking GMO’s to diseases such as cancer, stunted growth, and birth defects as seen in Argentina and many other places, Nigerian Ministry of Agriculture in tandem with NABDA have labeled these calls ‘anti-science’ and ‘uninformed’ because the producers of these products have told them their products are safe. Aside NABDA in partnership with Monsanto illegally approving the planting of Bt cowpeas in Nigeria without an enabling bio-safety law in place, NABDA has been created by these foreign bio-tech companies to mimic the FDA in America, for the sole aim of ‘THE REGULATED’ controlling the regulatory process to ensure the easy approval of GMOs without rigorous assessment of health or environmental risks.
In the words of David Schubert, Professor and Head of Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies, La Jolla, California; “One thing that surprised us is that US regulators rely almost exclusively on information provided by the biotech crop developer, and those data are not published in journals or subjected to peer review… The picture that emerges from our study of US regulation of GM foods is a rubber-stamp ‘approval process’ designed to increase public confidence in, but not ensure the safety of, genetically engineered foods.”
The clear import of the above Sir, is that there is no coherent or conclusive body of evidence to guarantee the safety and sanctity of GMO foods as fit for human consumption. Why the Nigerian authorities should give legislative approval to what could be termed as “junk science” is a baffling reality to all of us.
Furthermore, there is the issue of freedom of choice. Does the Nigerian citizen not have the right to know if the foods they eat have been modified in the lab? Would these products be labeled as GMO’s or will that right of choice also be taken away from the Nigerian citizens? Can we envision people buying a labeled cup of GMO cow peas from the market?
Mr. President, The world is becoming health conscious; the demand for natural and unprocessed foods is at an all time high, in part to stem the rise in diseases linked to processed foods and GMO’s. As president, you are undoubtedly aware of the current state of our health care system and infrastructure. Is it fair to expose our people to such a technology, knowing full well that more developed countries with better healthcare systems have chosen to protect the health of their citizens as well as their environment?
Does Nigeria need this new wave of colonization of our food system, empowered by patent laws and control of seeds which produce sterile offspring? Does Nigeria need this new layer of dependency? Mr. President, are you aware that these foreign corporations seize intellectual property rights to African seeds, in effect attempting the theft of the entire agricultural base of all the countries in Africa? It would seem like a flashback to the colonial era, during which everyone but us knew the value of our resources and these same nations we go to ask for AID today, built their wealth on our ignorance of the value of our resources.
President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia in his speech at the State Opening of the National Assembly for the 2015 legislative year said
“(Gambia) will never accept GM food”. “I must emphasize here that despite our obsession with becoming a major food exporter after 2016, we will never accept genetically Modified Organisms in our agriculture. The Gambia is strictly maintaining organic agriculture for both our consumption and export
Nigeria can take a cue from Gambia and become a major exporter of organic food, taking advantage of the global demand for natural organic food whose value is about three times the value of GMO’s.
Religion & Belief System
The Nigerian people are a deeply religious people.
“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis Chapter 1: 11-12). God himself said it was good. These people playing God in the laboratory seek to force us to eat what they produce in the lab, and then claim ownership rights over it, over life, runs contrary to our belief system. Scientist all over the world has shown that these unnatural foods as well as the chemicals that accompany them are destructive to our health and environment. Maybe in this matter we should stay with conventional breeding of plants whose products are self replenishing.
History & Legacy
In this age of information, knowledge is at our finger tips; we see the actions of Presidents prioritizing the health and welfare of their citizens over corporate interests. We see the move towards healthy living as witnessed by the rising organic food consumption. Just as Monsanto glyphosate has been officially declared a carcinogen by the W.H.O, just as DDT was declared a poison, eventually the world will come to terms with this technology, history would say President Goodluck passed the bill but President Buhari presided over the poisoning of his people and the colonization of their agricultural system if nothing is done to halt this clear and present danger
We pray Almighty God grants you the wisdom and foresight to do what is right by your people.
God bless you and God bless Nigeria.
NIGERIANS AGAINST GMO
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