Top Environmentalist and Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, Dr. Nnimmo Bassey has debunked the widespread notion that genetically modified seeds is the only way to produce food that can meet the demands of Nigeria’s growing population.
Dr. Bassey corrected the information while addressing journalists on the State of Biosafety in Nigeria.
Dr. Bassey explained that the challenges of food scarcity in Nigeria cannot be solved by introducing GMOs as there is no proof that use of GMOs can increase harvest but would rather erode bio-diversity, adding that, “we don’t need GMO in Africa and we don’t need it in Nigeria at all.”
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He explained that the key issues bedeviling the agricultural sector and causing food scarcity are as a result of unfavourable policies which GMOs are not the solutions.
The HOMEF ED said that, “the government should support our local farmers and make them get good value for their products, provide good storage facilities to prevent farm produce from wastage.
“Most importantly, stop conflict, because when bandits chase farmers from their farmlands, GMOs won’t stop that,” adding that, “technology doesn’t have all the solutions, we need to get certain things right.”
Speaking further on unfavourable policies, Dr. Bassey mentioned that the Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Bill further compounds the problems as provisions in that law stifles the rights of small holder farmers who produce the bulk of the food that is being consumed in the country.
He also noted that the provision of the act itself is against the provisions of the constitution and it is a backdoor through which GMOs can come into the country.
On her part, Joyce Brown, Programme Manager, HOMEF, disclosed that, “GMOs reduces nutritional diversity as farmers are able to plant just one food crop, the land will not be able to mitigate climate impact and causes environmental degradation. It could cause also health problem such as birth defects and cancer.”
She also noted that the PVP bill would lead to loss of farmers’ rights adding that it is more in favour of industrial farmers. She thereafter recommended that Nigeria should have laws that support smallholder farmers.
Brown also recommended that, “permits already granted for importation and use of GMOs in Nigeria should be withdrawn to avert the intended and unintended implications for our health, environment and economy.
“Nigeria has vast human and natural resources. With adequate support for our small scale farmers in terms of infrastructure, timely credit schemes, extension service, access to land and irrigation services etc., Nigeria can increase productivity, reduce waste and strength our local economy.
“The government should discourage the use of inorganic fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides especially Roundup Ready and the glyphosate containing formulations which have dire implications for human health and ecosystem balance.”