Nigerians Overwhelmingly Reject Monsanto’s Risky GM Maize and Cotton



BENIN CITY, NIGERIA – More than 100 groups representing over 5 million Nigerians, comprising of farmers, faith-based organisations, civil society groups, students and local community groups, are vehemently opposing Monsanto’s attempts to introduce genetically modified (GM) cotton and maize into Nigeria’s food and farming systems. In written objections submitted to the biosafety regulators, the groups have cited numerous serious health and environmental concerns and the failure of these crops especially GM cotton in Africa.

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 isfor 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 Bt cotton into Nigeria, the groups are particularly alarmed that the application has come so close after the dismal failures of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso.  According to Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth – one of the groups in the frontline of the resistance: “We are totally shocked that it should come so soon after peer reviewed studies have 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.” He further asks the pointed question: “since our Biosafety Act has only recently entered into force, what biosafety legislation was used to authorize and regulate the field trials in the past in accordance with international law and best biosafety practice?”

According to the groups, former President Goodluck Jonathan hastily signed the National Biosafety Management Bill into law, in the twilight days of his tenure in office. Further worrying is the apparent conflict of interests displayed by the Nigerian regulatory agencies, who are publically supporting the introduction of GMOs into Nigeria whereas these regulators (the NAMBA) are legally bound to remain impartial and regulate in the public interest.

Monsanto’s GM maize application is in respect of a stacked event, including the herbicide tolerant trait intended to confer tolerance to the use of the herbicide, glyphosate. In 20 March 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.

According to Mariann Orovwuje, Friends of the Earth International’s Food Sovereignty co-coordinator, “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.”

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.

The groups are urging the Nigerian government to reject Monsanto’s applications out of hand.They note with disquiet that there is a serious lack of capacity within Nigeria to adequately control and monitor the human and environmental risks of GM crops and glyphosate. Further there is virtually no testing of any food material and products in Nigeria for glyphosate or other pesticide residues, or the monitoring of their impact on the environment including water resources.

Groups Endorsing the Objection to Monsanto’s applications

    1. All Nigeria Consumers Movement Union (ANCOMU)
    2.   Committee on Vital Environmental Resources (COVER)
    3. Community Research and Development Centre (CRDC)
    4.  Ijaw Mothers of Warri
    5. Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN)
    6. Host Communities Network of Nigeria (HoCoN)
    7. Oilwatch Nigeria
    8. Green Alliance, Nigeria
    9. African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development
    10. Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (IHRHL)
    11.  Women Environmental Programme (WEP)
    12. Persons with Disabilities Action Network (PEDANET)
    13. Students Environmental Assembly of Nigeria (SEAN)
    14. Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD)
    15. Ogoni Solidarity Forum (OSF)
    16. KebetKache Women Development and Resource Centre
    17. Federation of Urban Poor (FEDUP)
    18. Community Forest Watch (CFW)
    19. The Young Environmentalist Network (TYEN)
    20. Women’s Rights to Education Program (WREP)
    21. Community Action for Public Action (CAPA)
    22. Peoples Advancement Centre (ADC) Bori
    23. Social Action
    24. SPEAK Nigeria
    25. Host Communities Network
    26. Urban Rural Environmental Defenders (U-RED)
    27. Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative (GERI)
    28. Women’s Right to Education Programme (WREP)
    29. Foundation for Rural/Urban Integration (FRUIT)
    30. Community Action for Popular Participation
    31. Torjir-Agber Foundation (TAF)
    32. Civil Society on Poverty Eradication (CISCOPE),
    33. Jireh Doo foundation
    34. Advocate for Community Vision and Development( ACOVID)
    35. Initiative for empowerment for vulnerable(IEV)
    36. Kwaswdoo Foundation Initiative (KFI)
    37. Environment and  Climate Change Amelioration Initiative) ECCAI
    38. Manna Love and Care Foundation (MLC)
    39. Okaha Women and children development Organisation(OWCDO)
    40. JODEF-F
    41. Glorious things ministry(GTM)
    42. Daughters of Love Foundation
    43. Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN)
    44. Community Links and Empowerment Initiative(CLHEI)
    45. Nigerian Women in Agriculture (NAWIA)
    46. Osa foundation
    47. Initiative for Improved Health and Wealth Creation (IIHWC)
    48. Peace Health Care Initiative (PHCI)
    49. Ochilla Daughters Foundation (ODF)
    50. African Health Project (AHP)
    51. Artists in Development
    52. Ramberg Child Survival Initiative (RACSI)
    53. Global Health and Development initiative
    54. First Step Initiative (FIP)
    55. Ruhujukan Environment  Development  Initiative (REDI)
    56. The Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development(CEHRD), Nigeria
    57. Center for Children’s Health Education, Orientation Protection (CEE Hope)and CEEHOPE Nigeria
    58. Next Generation Youth Initiative (NGI)
    59. Akwa Ibom Information and Research Organisation (AIORG)
    60. Rural Action for Green Environment (RAGE)
    61. United Action for Democracy
    62. Campaign for Democracy
    63. Yasuni Association
    64. Egi Joint Action Congress
    65. Green Concern for Development (Greencode)
    66. Kebetkache Ahoada Women Farmers Cooperative
    67. Ahoada Uzutam Women Farmers Cooperative
    68. Ogboaku Ahoada Farmers Cooperative
    69. Gbobia Feefeelo women
    70. Ovelle Nyakovia Women Cooperative
    71.  Rumuekpe Women Prayer Warriors
    72. League of Queens
    73. Emem Iban Oku Iboku
    74. Uchio Mpani Ibeno
    75. Rural Health and Women Development
    76. Women Initiative on Climate Change
    77. Peoples’ Centre
    78. Citizens Trust Advocacy and Development Centre (CITADEC)
    79. Centre for Environment Media and Development Communications
    80. Centre for Dignity
    81. Peace and Development Project
    82. Triumphant Foundation
    83. Earthcare Foundation
    84. Lokiakia Centre
    85. Community Development and Advocacy Foundation (CODAF)
    86. Citizens Centre
    87. Development Strategies
    88. Rainforest Research and Development Center
    89. Center for Environmental Education and Development (CEED)
    90. Initiative for the Elimination of Violence Against Women & Children (IEVAWC)
    91. Charles and Doosurgh Abaagu Foundation
    92. Community Emergency Response Initiative
    93. Society for Water and Sanitation (NEWSAN)
    94. Shacks and Slum Dwellers Association of Nigeria
    95. Atan Justice, Development and Peace Centre
    96. Sisters of Saint Louis Nigeria
    97. Life Lift Nigeria
    98. Community Research and Development Foundation (CDLF)
    99. Environmental rights Action Friends of the Earth Nigeria ( ERA/ FoEN)
    100. Health of Mother Earth Foundation  (HOMEF)

HOMEF’s press release appeared first at Common Dreams

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