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Ban the growth of Genetically Modified Seeds and the consumption of GM Foods In Nigeria.

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World Trends

With the amount of information that has come to the fore by independent scientist, countries all over the world are placing complete bans on GMO foods, while citizens of America are fighting for the right to know if their food contains GMO's (Genetically modified Organisims) . Most recently Scotland announced outright ban on the cultivation of GMO's .6 out of the 8 countries that make up the G8 have outright bans on these companies and their products. Such countries include France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia and most of the EU.

The World health organization has recently declared MONSANTO's glyphosate as a carcinogenic, These chemicals are used in tandem with the GMO products.

GMO's & Environmental poisoning

Aside from false promises of higher yields, less pesticide use, etc, GMO’s are nothing more than patented pesticide delivery systems designed to increase the sales of poisonous agrochemicals such as Roundup, Glufosinate, Bt 2,4D,Astrazine and Neonicotinids. Such chemicals are sold under dubious labels of being bio-degradable which have since proved to be false.

Furthermore these chemicals have been shown to poison the water systems in cities talk less of rural areas were water simply flows to the streams.

In June 2012 company Syngenta announced a proposed $US 105 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit brought by communities in six Midwestern U.S. states who claimed that atrazine a herbicide produced by sygenta had contaminated their drinking water.

Numerous studies have linked the chemical with hormonal imbalances and sexual irregularities in frogs and fish, which result in, among other things, males who produce eggs. In the Nigerian context. where most farming happens in the hinterlands, Nigerian citizens are not served water by a water corporations who consistently test the quality of water. They go to the streams or fetch water from wells. Does the Nigerian government plan for its citizens to drink from poisoned streams and water tables? These are some of the health concerns.

Health Concerns

In 2011, scientists in Argentina found long term effects of GMO in certain towns where these crops are grown and these include birth defects and a higher incidence of child cancer caused by glyphosate – a herbicide sprayed on GMO crops and marketed by Monsanto. The industrial agricultural practices of spraying these chemicals on farms creates an abundance of these toxic chemicals in the air

“The few scientific researches done on the effects of these foods on humans have showed stunted growth, impaired immune systems, bleeding stomachs, abnormal and potentially precancerous cell growth in the intestines, impaired blood cell development, misshaped cell structures in the liver, pancreas and testicles, altered gene expression and cell metabolism, liver and kidney lesions, partially atrophied livers, inflamed kidneys, less developed organs, reduced digestive enzymes, higher blood sugar, inflamed lung tissue, increased death rates and higher offspring mortality as well. Repeated use of seeds like Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready soybeans results in vicious new super-weeds that need far greater amounts of stronger herbicides to combat. Their toxic residues remain in crops that humans and animals then eat. Even small amounts of these toxins are endocrine disruptors that can affect human reproduction adversely. Most recently, tests showed the presence of the herbicide glyphosate, widely used with Monsanto’s herbicide-tolerant GM soybean and maize varieties, in samples of mothers’ breast milk in the United States.”. Ify Aniebo (BSc, MSc, MRes, MPH)is a molecular geneticist from Oxford University, with a master’s in public health

Control of the seed by Patent Right claims

Seeds that have been genetically modified cannot be replanted. This is because they are either infertile or due to Patent rights these companies claim on the seed. What this does is lock the farmer in to dependency on these foreign-biotech companies for seed every year. In doing this a primary input of agriculture which exists abundantly is now monopolized and commoditized.

“We cannot be force-fed by a savage biotech industry that seeks to colonise African seeds and food systems. The fact that GMOs will not feed the world is well studied and documented. See the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) report, for example. GMOs will enslave the world through the intellectual property rights that allows the biotech industry to patent their seeds, debars farmers from sharing or saving seeds and forces them to buy seeds every planting season. It seeks to overturn age long sustainable practices.” Nnimmo Bassey M.F.R,Chair of Friends of the Earth International 2008-2012

Contamination

A major disadvantage of this technology is the contamination of natural varieties due to wind and pollen drift. This was first noticed in the corn belt of Mexico prompting a federal judge to order Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture to immediately “suspend all activities involving the planting of transgenic corn in the country and end the granting of permission for experimental and pilot commercial plantings”. In delivering his verdict, Judge Jaime Eduardo Verdugo J. cited “the risk of imminent harm to the environment” as the basis for the decision.

National Economics

Proponents argue that GMO would boost exports but GMO’s are not allowed in to most countries. Our exports will close up to the whole of Europe. A case study is Japan which as soon as it found out its trading partner Thailand was growing GMO, promptly banned the importation of Thailand papayas. Thailand’s GMO woes were further brought to light when Thai canned tuna packed in soybean oil was recently rejected by the Netherlands and Greece after they allegedly found it contained genetically modified ingredients.

Since few other nations will accept our new GM export, Nigeria will be locked in to exporting our “potential new yield” to America and Canada. Yet America’s main interest will be bio-fuel. So all this really will have very little to do with feeding Nigeria. In Zimbabwe, the population was subjected to consuming tree bark during a food crisis in 1992, while their fertile lands were used for cultivating tobacco exports.On the other hand, now more than ever organic produce is in high demand with consumers willing to pay far more for such products. Countries such as Uganda are benefiting from the global high demand of ORGANIC products. Organic products can go in to all markets, GMO products can only go in to specific markets.

Corruption and legislation

With all the negative factors associated with this technology one wonders how responsible legislators and governments allow these companies operate. To understand this it helps to understand the Tobacco industry and how they lobbied and manipulated the truth for 40years pushing the idea that smoking was not linked to lung cancer. They did this by creating a revolving door between the senate /regulatory agencies/judiciary and their employees. In which regulators of the industry are former Monsanto employees or have strong links to the Bio-tech industry.

A speech made by US Rep Dennis Kucinich on the house of congress floor:
“In 1992 the Food and Drug Administration decided that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are the functional equivalent of conventional foods. They arrived at this decision without testing GMOs for allergenicity, toxicity, anti-biotic resistance and functional characteristics. As a result hundreds of millions of acres of GMO crops were planted in America without the knowledge or consent of the American people: no safety testing and no long term health studies. The FDA has received over a million comments from citizens demanding labeling of GMOs. Ninety percent of Americans agree. So, why no labeling? I’ll give you one reason: The influence and the corruption of the political process by Monsanto. Monsanto has been a prime mover in GMO technology, a multi-million dollar GMO lobby here and a major political contributor.’

“Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety” — FDA, “Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties” (GMO Policy), Federal Register, Vol. 57, No. 104 (1992), p. 229

“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A.’s job” – Philip Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications. “Playing God in the Garden” New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998.

“One thing that surprised us is that US regulators rely almost exclusively on information provided by the biotech crop developer, and those data are not published in journals or subjected to peer review… The picture that emerges from our study of US regulation of GM foods is a rubber-stamp ‘approval process’ designed to increase public confidence in, but not ensure the safety of, genetically engineered foods.” – David Schubert, professor and head, Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory, Salk Institute, commenting on a comprehensive peer-reviewed study of US government’s regulation of GMOs.

Contrary to popular belief, the FDA does not have a mandatory GM food safety assessment process and has never approved a GM food as safe. It does not carry out or commission safety tests on GM foods. Instead, the FDA operates a voluntary programme for pre-market review of GM foods. All GM food crops commercialised to date have gone through this review process, but there is no legal requirement for them to do so.

The agricultural biotechnology corporations have lobbied long and hard on every continent to ensure that weak assessment models are the norm. The result has been the creation of models for safety assessment that favour easy approval of GMOs without rigorous assessment of health or environmental risks. For example, a report by the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) identified the Syngenta Foundation/FARA project as part of an “Africa-wide harmonisation of biosafety policies and procedures” that will “create an enabling environment for the proliferation of GMOs on the continent, with few biosafety checks and balances”. Having gone through the Nigerian Biosafety bill (which is available for all to see online), it becomes very clear that the bill was written solely for the purpose of enabling big biotech corporation grow GMO with very few biosafety checks and balances without the welfare of the consumers in mind.

Regulation

Nigeria is barely coping with the regulation of fake drugs, Does Nigeria have the capacity or the infrastructure to regulate GM products that it barely understands? Nigeria has not invested in its schools or research facilities to create independent bodies to look after Nigerian Interest. Instead as stated earlier these regulatory bodies are fronts and figure heads to ensure the interest of these Bio-tech companies.

We lack the scientific wherewithal of Russia, Japan or France Yet they banned GMOS and have strong bio-safety laws PREVENTING and INHIBITING the importation of GMO products in to their country. France and Manufacturing powerhouse Germany banned Monsanto cultivation and GMO products. Italy banned cultivation of Monsanto and GM products. England does not allow cultivation of Monsanto crops and only allows GM products in to the country as animal feed and even this is under scrutiny. Lastly, the world super power Russia banned all Monsanto products as well as GM products entering the country.

In the words of the Russian Prime minister, Medvedev

“If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,”

President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia in his speech at the State Opening of the National Assembly for the 2015 legislative year said "will never accept GM food". "I must emphasize here that despite our obsession with becoming a major food exporter after 2016, we will never accept Genetically Modified Organisms in our agriculture. The Gambia is strictly maintaining organic agriculture for both our consumption and export," It is worth noting that The Gambia in recent times has become food sufficient and aims to become a net exporter.

With the examples of these countries as a backdrop, Nigeria’s forced marriage with Monsanto et al is reminiscent of the proverbial phrase

“Fools rush where Angels fear to tread”

Recommendations

The current trend of Industrial agriculture is destroying the Bio-diversity of plants. Nature’s diversity and genetic uniqueness is what keeps it stable and resistant to diseases and pest. The mono-culture nature of farming as well as cloning of genes has lead to a huge decrease in Bio-diversity. The proliferation of GMO was the best way for these companies to maintain their current business model and expand to total control over food production. This is the reason our food chain has become sensitive to diseases and pest. Most bananas grown for commercial reasons are clones, having the same genetics, everywhere. Thus a single pest can decimate the entire world production of bananas. The only way to create a healthy sustainable agricultural system is by increasing the bio-diversity through the use of Bio-dynamic farming.

The UN in a report titled “Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before It’s Too Late,” with contributions from more than 60 experts around the world. Asserted that Small-scale Organic farming is the only way to feed the world.

Nigerian land is fertile with hardworking farmers who feed this nation without the subsidies their counterparts in the EU and USA enjoy. What Nigeria needs are solutions to its peculiar problems. These include an accessible transportation and logistics system that incorporates storage and food preservation. Community shared tractor and mechanical systems that ensures food gets of the farm in a timely manner. The quality of Extension service to farmers should be increased to meet world standards .Nigerian farmers need REAL access to soft loans. Most importantly by simply improving the conventional farming practices that are already used around the world,We can feed the entire country by integrating companion cropping / permaculture techniques, reforestation of arid areas, alternative infrastructures .Alternatives to the industrialization of agriculture are being explored worldwide, and as the realities of climate change come to the fore, Africa is a place where new models of perma-culture could meet old models of sustainable farming in so doing create sustainable and locally owned solutions to nutritious food production. Our problems will not be solved by “magic seeds”, they will only be compounded.

DEMANDS

  • The Nigerian government places an immediate Ban on all GMO plants, livestock and food products.
  • The Nigerian government in partnership with NAFDAC places and immediate ban on all carcinogenic pesticides and herbicides sold by
  • Bio-tech companies in Nigeria, e.g Roundup by Monsanto
    The Nigerian government probes NABDA to investigate the conflict of interest as regards whose interest the institution serves.

To read more on this issue, see links below.

GMO MYTHS & TRUTHS

RE-ENSLAVEMENT OF NIGERIA BY THE G8 & MONSANTO

THE GMO DEBATE WITH DR ADESINA ( FORMER MINISTER OF AGRIC)

NABDA, THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE & THE SENATE – unwitting pawns in the re-colonization of Nigeria by MONSANTO



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