Monday, 25 July 2016

Monsanto's Plot to Take Over Nigeria's Agriculture

By Jibrin Ibrahim
As everyone knows, one American company called Monsanto has been on a determined march to take over agricultural production all over the world and enslave all farmers and countries to their commercial blood sucking logic. They have finally found a bridgehead into Nigeria where a door has been opened to allow them enter and takeover. They have been allowed to initiate so-called experimental farms to produce cotton and maize. Their point of entry has been the irresponsible National Biotechnology Development Agency, which has been compromised by Monsanto to provide an entry point to take over our agriculture.

This week, I write to support the great work currently being carried out by Nnimmo Bassey and his team at the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) to resist the dangerous takeover of our agriculture by Monsanto. The Foundation has exposed the fact that GMOs have been approved to be grown in Nigeria and that the approval was surreptitious. There is an argument whether the approval was for a two-year trial process or for permanent production and for me, both must be opposed. At no time has the Nigerian Government taken a policy decision to approve GMOs and given the health dangers alone of this technology, it is irresponsible to allow this. We cannot allow the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) to sell our future for some temporary inducement they have received from Monsanto. How was it allowed that Monsanto Agriculture Nigeria Ltd would register in the country and start production without explicit approval the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly?

Burkina Faso, which took the lead on GMO production in Africa, decided this year to abandoned its GMO cotton citing the inferior lint quality of Monsanto products and the enslavement of buying expensive seeds and chemicals from the company each year for an income that is less than what they were having before introducing it. It would be recalled that for a long time, Burkinabé cotton was renowned for its high quality following a highly successful non-GM breeding programme founded by the French government and spanning 70 years. The main goal of the breeding programme was to create cultivars that were well adapted to the growing conditions in West Africa and had the desired quality characteristics, such as a high ginning ratio, which is the percentage of the desired cotton fibre per unit weight of cotton delivered to the factory and long staple length. They foolishly decided to abandon the home grown approach and follow the GMO route of Monsanto and after six years of commercial production, they discovered that the quality and world market price of their cotton had plummeted. Cotton is the second-biggest source of revenue for the impoverished West African country after gold. It is this same GMO cotton that failed in Burkina Faso that is now being introduced to Nigeria.

I therefore call on the Ministers of Agriculture and the Environment to call the National Biosafety Management Agency to order and to withdraw the authorization issued for the production of GMO crops. Given our fragile ecosystems and stressed environment, we must take our biosafety seriously and avoid the path of introducing crops that are dangerous to the health of our people and our environment. Nineteen European countries that care about the health of their people have completely banned genetically modified crops. Even the Russian State Duma last month passed a bill banning all import and production of genetically modified organisms in the country. We must not allow Nigeria to be turned into a dumping ground for what sensible countries have rejected. Sincere scientists have shown evidence that Monsanto's crops are genetically enhanced to tolerate the use of the herbicide glyphosate which was declared as a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The current Monsanto project to grow glyphosate infused manure.

Daily Trust

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