Group insists on thorough stakeholders’ engagement on GMOs safety

Dr Segun Adebayo, Director of Operations, CEFSAR
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By Chijioke Okoronkwo

The Centre for Food Safety and Agricultural Research (CEFSAR), an NGO, says there is need for a thorough stakeholders’ engagement on the safety of genetically engineered crops, categorised as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Dr Segun Adebayo, Director of Operations, CEFSAR, made this advocacy on Thursday in Abuja, at a news conference.

Adebayo said such ‘no holds barred’ engagement would create a balance of knowledge and give people the opportunity to choose what they consumed.

He said that CEFSAR was not representing or marketing any product but concerned about the health of Nigerians.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Dr Iziaq Salako, Minister of State for Environment, had at a recent forum, said that biotechnology solutions would be guided by scientific evidence, ethical deployment, safe application and freedom of choice.

Adebayo, however, argued that rising cases of childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes, autism and developmental delays among children must be interrogated.

“What are the issues with GMOs? Why must we be very careful with it?

“First, it is unnatural; it is not organic; it has been tampered with genetically.

“If new instructions have been inputted into these GMOs, the first question is who wrote the new instructions and what are the new instructions? Hereditary traits and co are traits that pass through our genes.

“The marketers of GMOs, the seed sellers are the ones that wrote the instructions,” he said.

Adeabyo further said that it was instructive to note that most GMOs seeds were sterile and could not be replanted.

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According to him, the sellers of GMOs may give stringent conditions before subsequent release or supply of seeds which will lead to loss of food sovereignty.

“You plant these GMOs into the ground; it has produced corn; they can say that for the first generation, the yield will produce; then by second generation, you have nothing.

“They can say, if you plant this, you are getting nothing; so you must always come back to us to get your seeds; imagine a food system that is dependent on buying seeds from the seed sellers 100 per cent?

“So, the country looks towards the neo-colonialists and buys seeds from them; by so doing, we are setting ourselves up for something we know little about.

“What if the seed seller says there is no seed? What if the seed sellers say there is a law we want you to pass in your country? If you don’t pass that law, we will deny you seeds.’’

Adebayo listed two heavy agro-chemicals contained in GMOs for pests and weed control as glyphosate and atrazine.

According to him, glyphosate is one the world’s leading causes of cancer.

“You apply glyphosate to your farms; the weeds die; the GMOs have been modified so that the chemicals will not kill them; your maize, as vascular plants, will start sucking in glyphosate and you consume the corn and take in heavy agro-chemicals.

“The second dangerous chemical is atrazine, a pesticide. It a major chemical used in feminising males; it stimulates the production of progesterone and estrogen which are female hormones.

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“Every cell in the human body grows; this time around it keeps growing and that is how cancer works.’’

The CEFSAR director of operations said there was a nexus between food security and national security.

He said there was need to query what informed to decision and choice of places attacked by bandits and why there were major farming regions and key food belts.

“Solve the problems that stop farmers from going to farm and our food security problem will be over; not through GMOs,’’ he said.

Adeabyo said that anything that affected food affected humanity.

According to him, there is need to educate the farmers, citizens, policy makers, among others who may have taken some decisions out of ignorance.

On his part, Amb. Chris Iyama, Executive Director, Centre for Youth Participation, Dialogue and Advocacy Africa (CYPA), said the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, NAFDAC, National Biosafety Management Agency and lawmakers must have an all-encompassing engagement on GMOs.

He said there was need for a proper public hearing to interrogate the issues.

Iyama said there would be a major rally on the streets of Abuja on May 6, to sensitise Nigerians on the dangers of GMOs. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Emmanuel Afonne

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