SOME Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have commended the Nigerian Senate for considering a bill to revise the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Act to ensure food safety in the country.
CSOs include GMO-Free Nigeria, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN).
CSOs commended the Senate for considering the review of the NBMA Act while responding to news in Food Farm News published Tuesday, April 5, 2022, titled “Senate Insists on GMOs Through Regulation”.
The bill, which seeks to amend the NBMA Act to ensure healthy food consumption and soil management against genetically modified organism (GMO) products, passed the second reading in the Senate.
A statement released by CSOs noted that the majority of members of the Senate support passage of the bill for an amendment to the NBMA Act for more diligent testing and integrity of GMOs.
Senate Speaker Ahmad Lawan ordered that the National Biosafety Agency Amendment and Other Related Matters Bill 2015 be referred to the Environment Committee for further legislation and a report. in four weeks.
Senate leader Yahaya Abdullahi, who introduced the bill, said it will ensure zero tolerance for any dangerous GMO-related products.
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Abdulahi said our soils and the good health of Nigerians must be well protected with an eco-friendly environment.
Barrister Chima Williams, executive director of ERA/FoEN, called the development welcome, adding that the Senate’s position resonates with what it has been telling Nigerians and the government for over a decade.
“GMOs are regulated because their harmlessness is not guaranteed. There are good reasons why in Europe strong regulatory mechanisms are in place for GM foods and GM crops. GMOs are not the same as landraces, nor are they substantially equivalent.
“If they were indeed one and the same thing, as GMO proponents claim, why do they modify them and why do they have patents?” Williams asked
While commending the Senate for the development, the Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, said, “We strongly believe that scientific integrity and social responsibility are non-negotiable, and no technology should be exempt from these values.”
He urged those with a duty to protect our food to move away from the industrial yield-production paradigm and embrace a more integrated system.
Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje, Food Sovereignty Program Coordinator for Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Africa and Chair of the Agroecology and Land Working Group of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), said: “There are enough reasons to curb the commercialization of GM crops in Nigeria.
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She urged the Senate to subject all GMO crops and foods approved in the environment to independent, transparent, environmental, social and health impact assessments.
Also contributing, Nnimmo Bassey, Director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), said “this is an important step in upholding the rights of Nigerian citizens to safe food and environment.”
“This is a step in the right direction for consumers and especially for small-scale farmers who are directly impacted by GMOs and associated chemicals and yet have little or no knowledge or choice about the entry of these unnatural varieties in our food system or their potential risks.. We refuse to be fed foods of questionable quality,” Bassey added.
CSOs have rejected the unguarded modus operandi of the National Biotechnology Development Agency, the National Biosafety Management Agency and their partners to impose GMO crops/foods on unsuspecting Nigerians via their introduction and their commercialization in the country’s agricultural system and food supply chain.
They noted that they had valid concerns about GMOs, adding that they had compelling and compelling reasons to support their views, even as proponents of GM technology constantly vilify them.
According to CSOs, instead of engaging in open and honest debate, they have seen some scientists and proponents of GM technology harden their positions, lash out at critics and convey personal opinions or repeat opinions and business diary.