HOMEF, GMO-FNA Applaud Reps’ Resolution To Probe Introduction Of GMOs In Nigeria

By Edu Abade

The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and GMO-Free Nigeria Alliance (GMO-FNA) have commended the House of Representatives on its resolution to comprehensively investigate the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into Nigeria and to stop approval of new products pending the completion of the investigation.

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The resolution is reported to have followed the adoption of the motion moved by Rep. Muktar Shagaya at a plenary session held on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in the red chamber of the National Assembly.

In a statement issued by the groups and made available to journalists by HOMEF’s Media and Communication Lead, ‘Kome Odhomor, the group noted that the investigation, which has been long overdue, remains crucial to save the country from the dangerous path to food colonialism, contamination of our genetic resources, loss of biodiversity and nutritional diversity, soil degradation and overall disruption of the country’s agriculture and food systems.

As the lawmaker explained, the introduction of GMOs in Nigeria raises serious concerns about safety, regulatory oversight, and their potential impacts on the country’s biosafety.

Executive Director of HOMEF, Dr. Nnimmo Bassey, said: “The investigation must be unbiased and thorough. To ensure this, the National Assembly should engage independent researchers to avoid contamination of the process by GMO promoters.

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“It should also consider Nigeria’s agricultural landscape and investigate the underlying causes of hunger/food insecurity and as well establish definite measures to address those issues. This is the time to rescue Nigerians from being used for risky experimentations.”

On her part, Food Sovereignty Activist and Deputy Executive Director, Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje, submitted: “Also key at this time is the need to critically examine the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Act for its fitness for purpose.

That law needs to be completely reworked to close existing loopholes including the composition of its governing/decision making board by excluding GMO promoters such as the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NBDA); lack of provision on strict liability, inadequate public consultation measures, absolute decision-making powers of the agency, minimal reference to the precautionary principle and many others.

The House of Representatives has urged the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to ensure labeling of GM crops already in the country.

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Responding, HOMEF’s Director of Programmes and Lead, Hunger Politics, Joyce Brown, pointed out that the Agency will need to devise strategies to have foods sold in local markets in basins, by the road sides and in processed forms like Ogi and Akara labeled to ensure informed decision-making by majority of people who buy food from these sources.

She stated that the exercise will prove that GMOs do not fit our socio-economic context, adding: “Over the years, market shelf surveys conducted by HOMEF have revealed over 50 different processed and packaged foods labeled as produced using genetically modified ingredients. The survey has also revealed the fact that the majority of our people do not read labels.”

Brown advised that permits for commercialization of Bt Cowpea, Tela Maize, Bt Corn and all other GMOs be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation by the House Committee on Agriculture and others.

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She said the statement reaffirmed Shagaya’s submission that Nigeria needs to prioritize public health, biodiversity, increased support of smallholder farmers in terms of extension services, provision of infrastructure (to curtail waste), access to credits, access to land and the growth of the local economy.

Nigeria should also adopt agro-ecological farming which aligns well with socio-economic and socio cultural context. Agro-ecology delivers increased productivity and economic resilience, revises and nourishes ecosystems, strengthens the local economy, mitigates the impacts of climate change and promotes food sovereignty.

Joshua Okoria

Joshua Okoria is a Lagos based multi-skilled journalist covering the maritime industry. His ICT and graphic design skills makes him a resourceful person in any modern newsroom. He read mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University and has sharpened his knowledge in media practice from several other short courses. 07030562600,

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