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April 21, 2024
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Illustration for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Group cautions Nigerians, FG against GMOs

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By Chijioke Okoronkwo

The Centre for Food Safety and Agricultural Research (CEFSAR), an NGO, has urged the Federal Government to be mindful of the acceptance and deployment of genetically engineered crops, categorised as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

The group communicated this at a High Level Dialogue on Food Security on Wednesday in Abuja, as a prelude to its symposium slated for Thursday.

The primary objectives of CEFSAR are to preserve native seed varieties, research sustainable agriculture practices and promote agro-ecological farming systems.

Others are to support local and indigenous farming communities, and educate farmers and stakeholders in the immediate society.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Federal Government recently approved the commercial release and open cultivation of a new maize variety, Tela Maize, a genetically modified maize.

The maize was developed by researchers at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who say it resists fall armyworm, stem borers and tolerate moderate drought.

Speaking to the dialogue, Prof. Qrissturberg Amua, Executive Director, CEFSAR, said the essence was to initiate a stakeholders’ engagement, interrogate GMOs and the motives behind them.

“We first of all begin with all those who consume GMOs in the form of modern crops that are being promoted in this country.

“And also, if you look at the venue of this engagement, it is the Federal Ministry of Justice, and a lot of the intrusion that is coming through GMOs is coming through policies and laws.

“And a lot of these policies pass through clearance from this ministry.

“So, we believe that by initiating this conversation today, we are attracting attention into the concerns of GMOs that we roll forward,” he said.

Amua said he was hopeful that the advocacy would gain momentum because important stakeholders would begin to talk about it and draw the attention of the government and consumers to the dangers inherent in pushing for GMOs.

According to the academic, food security has an intricate nexus with national security as a “hungry man is angry man”.

“We have observed that part of issues of national security are born out of aggression between individuals or groups.

”But beyond that, a crime is fueled when the larger population is hungry; they don’t get food to eat and that translates to poverty.

“In this particular context, today, it is being said that food is scare in Nigeria and it is because certain food production areas in the country have been attacked consistently for over a decade.

“And we realise that over this decade of attacks on food production areas, people have been displaced to initiate food scarcity; they have been pushed away from their farms.

“Because they cannot farm, we have food scarcity; so you can see, on one hand, national insecurity produces food insecurity.

“Now, take a reverse of it; because there is national food insecurity now, it is going to perpetrate further our national insecurity, in the sense that you have people taken away from their farms.

”A lot of farmers have been chased into camps.”

He said that CEFSAR’s observations indicated that there had been a lot of misinformation or deception targeted at some people in government—those who were at critical point of driving policy.

He said that one of the aims of the dialogue and symposium was to redress the misinformation.

“So, that is one of the reasons we are initiating this conversation—to attract their attention; we are essentially partnering with government and in our own expectation, our partnership is on education.

“I am a professor, a scientist. I have conducted some of these researches myself.

”So, I believe that with me involved in this conversation, the people in government who genuinely have been misinformed or deceived, will pick interest and begin to ask the relevant questions,” he said.

In his keynote address, Dr Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, said there was need to stick to agro-ecological methods of food production.

Represented by Mariam Bassey, Deputy Executive Director, Environment Rights/Action Friends of the Earth, Nigeria, Bassey said that available data showed that 70 per cent of small scale farmers fed the world through agro-ecological principles and techniques.

“So why do one want to jump into something that produces your food in a system with so many uncertainties? A system that lace your food with pesticides, chemicals and insecticides.

“We need to ban them; we don’t need GMOs. Nigeria and indeed, Africa, has all it takes to grow food, to produce food that can feed our people and also export to other countries,” he said.

On his part, Dr Segun Adebayo, Director of Operations, CEFSAR, said that GMOs contained chemicals that were harmful and predisposed humans to diseases.

According to him, everybody who eats is a stakeholder in the business of food.

“You are what you eat; you have to be concerned about what you eat; that is the reason we are having this engagement.

“The first step to being healthy is your food.”

Adebayo urged Nigerians to be wary of GMOs and promote the natural food, adding that the symposium was aimed at creating a balance of knowledge and give people the opportunity to choose what they consumed. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Emmanuel Afonne

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30 days ago

Thanks to the organizers of this symposium “CEFSAR”.

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