Home Lifestyle Health HOMEF Applauds NASS Over Halt of GMOs in Nigeria

HOMEF Applauds NASS Over Halt of GMOs in Nigeria

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HOMEF Applauds NASS Over Halt of GMOs in Nigeria

By Katherine Abayomi, Port Harcourt

A non-governmental organisation Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), and the GMO-Free Nigeria Alliance have applauded the House of Reps’ decision to investigate the introduction of GMOs in Nigeria. HOMEF and the GMO-Free Nigeria
Alliance has commended the House of Representatives on the resolution to comprehensively investigate the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into Nigeria and to halt approval of new products pending the completion of that investigation. This resolution is reported to have followed the adoption of the motion
by Rep. Muktar Shagaya at a plenary session held on Thursday 16th May 2024.

The group in a statement made available by her media and communications lead, Kome Odhomor over the weekend noted that the long overdue investigation is vital to save the country from the dangerous path to food colonialism, contamination of our genetic resources, loss of biodiversity/nutritional diversity, soil degradation, and overall
disruption of our agriculture and food systems. As the lawmaker rightly explained, the introduction of GMOs in Nigeria
raises serious concerns about safety, regulatory oversight, and their potential impacts on the country’s biosafety.

The Executive Director of HOMEF, Dr Nnimmo Bassey, noted, “This 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. This investigation should 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.”

Also according to Food Sovereignty Activist and Deputy Executive Director at Friends of the Earth Nigeria Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje, “It is key at this time, is the need to critically examine, and investigate the underlying causes of hunger/food insecurity, and the National Biosafety Management Agency 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; the 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 Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to ensure the labeling of GM crops already in the country.

Director of Programmes and lead on Hunger Politics at HOMEF, Joyce Brown in her reaction noted that the agency will need to devise strategies to have foods sold in local markets in basins, by the roadsides, and in processed forms like Ogi and Akara labeled to ensure informed decision-making by the majority of people who purchase food from these sources. This exercise will prove that GMOs do not fit our socio-economic context. Over the years, market shelf surveys conducted by HOMEF has revealed over 50 different processed/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 commercialisation of the Bt Cowpea, Tela Maize, Bt Corn, and all other GMOs be suspended pending the result of the investigation by the House Committee on Agriculture and others.

The submission by Rep. Muktar Shagaya reaffirms the need to prioritise public health, biodiversity, increased support of
smallholder farmers in terms of extension service, provision of infrastructure (to curtail waste), access to credits, access to land, and the growth of our local economy. Nigeria should adopt agroecological farming which aligns well with our socio-economic and socio-cultural context. Agroecology delivers increased productivity and economic resilience, revises/nourishes ecosystems, strengthens local economies, mitigates climate change, and promotes food sovereignty says HOMEF.

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