Since 2015 up to 20 GM foods have been approved for import into the country
EXCERPT: “It is not possible for [GMO] labelling to be properly done because of the way we consume food in Nigeria. For example, the GM beans that was imported, will a market woman label the beans in a basin as GM beans? We cannot label akara that was made from GM beans as GM akara. Will restaurants label moin-moin as being made from GM beans?” Brown [Joyce Brown, the Programmes Manager of HOMEF] said.
Nigerians being ambushed into consuming GM foods — HOMEF
By Paul Omorogbe
Nigerian Tribune, 6 Oct 2022
Nigerians are being made to consume genetically modified (GM) foods without their knowledge or consent.
This assertion was made by Nnimmo Bassey, the Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) at a press briefing in Lagos, recently.
At the briefing hosted by HOMEF, it was noted that between 2015 till date, there have been several approvals, numbering up to 20, for GM foods to be imported into the country.
According to HOMEF, these approvals were granted by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) that was set up in 2015.
“We are concerned that there is an insufficient amount of risk assessment conducted for these GM foods. HOMEF has written to the agency to provide information on risk assessment for various products before they were approved for importation. The answer has been go to the website. Severally, we have checked the website and the information is not there,” Joyce Brown, the Programmes Manager of HOMEF, noted.
“That is why we say we are being ambushed as a country into using GM foods,” she added, noting that the NBMA had no reports on the long term effects of the approved GM foods on human health.
Also raised was the issue of labelling. “It is not possible for labelling to be properly done because of the way we consumed food in Nigeria. For example, the GM beans that was imported, will a market woman label the beans in a basin as GM beans? We cannot label akara that was made from GM beans as GM akara. Will restaurants label moin-moin as being made from GM beans?” Brown said.
The HOMEF official also noted that GM cowpea had been distributed to farmers across the country without the farmers being told that the variety of cowpea (beans) is genetically modified.
Noting the lack of long-term studies on the effects of GM foods, Bassey stated that “the precautionary principle should be respected.
“When there is doubt, it makes no sense to push Nigerians into territories that are largely uncharted and that will have negative implications on our health and the environment.”
In a related development, HOMEF, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and others have applauded the Senate for considering a bill to review the NBMA Act in the overall interest of protecting food safety and public interests in Nigeria.
The civil society organisations also denounced the permit recently granted to Trigall Genetics S.A. for importation of genetically modified wheat (HB4 Wheat) into the country. The statement by the coalition demanded that the permits be recalled and that the NBMA ceases to act as a gateway for needless and risky GM products in Nigeria.
Bassey, at the briefing, however, raised the alarm over attempts to scuttle the review of the NBMA Act by promoters of GM foods.