Environmental Activist, Nnimmo Bassey has flayed the federal government for distributing commercial quantities of Genetically Modified Cowpea to farmers without informing them they were being given GM beans to plant.
Dismissing the excuse of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) that it could not explain the concept of GM Cowpea to farmers before handing them out, Bassey explained that many poor farmers across Nigeria have already planted, harvested, eaten and sold the beans to the unsuspecting public.
He alleged that the agency merely told the farmers they were being given improved beans varieties, warning that “deception is not a scientific tool for disseminating any product”.
Giving GMOs to farmers without their consent is illegal. The introduction of genetically engineered cowpea is a great cause for concern for farmers, consumers, and civil society organizations across the continent.
We are calling for the prohibition of GM seeds in Nigeria. We need to stop the spread of these seeds because Africa must not be turned into a dumping ground for risky technologies.
GM seeds decrease soil fertility, erode biodiversity, impoverish small scale farmers and promote land grab for monocultures.
According to statistics, Nigeria has a yearly average production of about 2.7 million metric tons of beans and has maintained that standard in the last ten years.
Research shows that Nigeria is known worldwide as a centre for cowpea production and also the largest importer of cowpea in Africa, ironically.
Nnimmo Bassey, the convener, Home of Mother Earth Foundation, however, in a press statement warned of the adverse consequences of GM organisms in the environment and its implications for food and nutritional security.
It has the long-term implications of transforming the environment, farmers’ varieties, and production practices; it will trap farmers into unsustainable, unsuitable, and unaffordable farming practices, and deepen the threat to food and nutritional security.
Also calling on the government to ensure food safety, Dr Ifeanyi Casmir, a lecturer at the University of Abuja emphasized the dangers of genetic engineering.
He asked the government to unburden NAFDAC by reducing its scope of work to ensure efficiency, alleging that the work overload has led to the penetration of pesticides and other chemicals that have been banned elsewhere.