‘Why Nigeria should never accept genetically modified maize, cotton’

Maize-FarmingMore than 100 groups representing over five million Nigerians are vehemently opposing attempts by Monsanto to introduce genetically modified (GM) cotton and maize into Nigeria’s food and farming systems.

In their written objections submitted to the biosafety regulators, the groups, comprising farmers, civil society organisations, students and local communities cited numerous serious health and environmental concerns and the failure of these crops, especially the GM cotton in Africa. The groups include Environmental Rights Action Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/ FoEN), Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), All Nigeria Consumers Movement Union (ANCOMU), Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Women Environmental Programme (WEP) and Nigerian Women in Agriculture (NAWIA).

They say “Monsanto’s application deceitfully provides no discussion on the potential risks of glysophate use to human and animal health and the environment. Apart from the potential of contaminating local varieties, the health risk of the introduction of genetically modified maize into Nigeria is enormous considering the fact that maize is a staple that all of 170 million Nigerians depend on.”

It was gathered that Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited has applied to the National Biosafety Management Agency (NABMA) for the environmental release and placing in the market in Zaria and surrounding towns of GM cotton (Bt cotton, event MON 15985). A further application is for the confined field trial (CFT) of two GM maize varieties (NK603 and stacked event MON 89034 x NK603) in multiple locations in Nigeria.

In their objection to the commercial release of genetically modified cotton into Nigeria, the groups are particularly alarmed that the application has come so close after the dismal failures of GM cotton in Burkina Faso.

The Director, Health of Mother Earth – one of the groups in the frontline of the resistance, Nnimmo Bassey, said: “We are totally shocked that it should come so soon after peer reviewed studies showed that the technology has failed dismally in Burkina Faso. It has brought nothing but economic misery to the cotton sector there and is being phased out in that country where compensation is being sought from Monsanto.”

Monsanto’s GM maize application creates some concern, including the herbicide tolerant trait intended to confer tolerance on the use of the herbicide, glyphosate. In March 20, 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), assessed the carcinogenicity of glysophate and concluded that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” There is also increasing scientific evidence that glyphosate poses serious risks to the environment.

Mariann Orovwuje, Friends of the Earth International’s Food Sovereignty Co-coordinator, said: “Should commercialization of Monsanto’s GM maize be allowed pursuant to field trials, this will result in increased use of glyphosate in Nigeria, a chemical that is linked to causing cancer in humans.

Recent studies have linked glyphosate to health effects such as degeneration of the liver and kidney, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. That NABMA is even considering this application is indeed unfortunate and deeply regrettable, knowing full well about the uncontrolled exposure that our rural farmers and communities living close to farms will be exposed to.”
The groups are urging the Nigerian government to reject Monsanto’s applications out of hand.

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  • honesty NO1

    I hope our corruption malady will never allow us to sign our death WARRANT with MONSANTO ! ! ! ! ! !

    • Uchenna Ugokwe

      It is usually easy to criticize something but not so easy to proffer an unbiased solution. Think about it, Monsanto has survived over the years because non of their critics bring better alternatives to the table.
      The problem at hand is how to feed the growing world population. Monsanto is attacking this problem the best way they can. Those criticising should come forward with better alternatives.
      I am not unmindful of the possibility of using the black man as guinea pig to further their research (the white man’s mind is not exactly as straight as his nose). This is where our own scientists must earn their pay. Your dog can only answer the name you choose to call it.

      • shehu Akowe

        Think of what our Old parents feed on, hence with us & consider what you are to leave behind for our unborn Children? why GMOs in the first place, is it that our Land has finished, not fertile or our Farmers complaining? All Africans needs is to empowers our Local & industrial farmers to yield more produce NOT Monsanto GMOs.

  • Dr Sam Omale

    GMO is a fraud and the gullible Nigerian officials should not be deceived into accepting it. It is mind baffling the way we embrace anything that comes from the other part of the world without putting or own peculiar environment and circumstance into consideration. In Britain we have a group that go about destroying any farm suspected of growing GMO foods. It is so controversial and yet this what we want to sign to .We do not need this. We do not want it. Stop it now.