(UR) Nigeria — In a massive grassroots effort to keep Monsanto from introducing genetically modified corn and cotton varieties into their country, 5 million Nigerians represented by one hundred organizations have submitted a formal objection to the country’s National Biosafety Management Agency (NABMA), expressing serious concerns about human health and the environmental risks associated with genetically altered crops.
This mammoth number of people is comprised of farmers, civil-society groups, students, community groups, and faith-based organizations — and shows clearly that the people of Africa are zealously refusing to submit to biotech’s campaign to take over their food crops.
Some of the biggest names in food-control have made clear moves to dominate the African market. In January, Bill Gates defended his support for genetic engineering in an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Blumenstein:
“What are called GMOs are done by changing the genes of the plant, and it’s done in a way where there’s a very thorough safety procedure, and it’s pretty incredible because it reduces the amount of pesticide you need, raises productivity (and) can help with malnutrition by getting vitamin fortification. And so I think, for Africa, this is going to make a huge difference, particularly as they face climate change […]
“The US, China, Brazil, are using these things and if you want farmers in Africa to improve nutrition and be competitive on the world market, you know, as long as the right safety things are done, that’s really beneficial. It’s kind of a second round of the green revolution. And so the Africans I think will choose to let their people have enough to eat.”
Gates owns 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock. His foundation has also given more than $1.4 billion to ‘help’ small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia ‘increase their yields and incomes,’ with all of the money going to programs for GM crop cultivation — but even African countries hit with famine have refused food aid that is comprised of GM ingredients. Notably, President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia has referred to GMO food as “poison.”
Now Nigerians are raising awareness with a petition following Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited’s own application to NAMBA that seeks to release GMO cotton (Bt cotton, event MON 15985) into the city of Zaria and surrounding towns. Another Monsanto application seeks confined field trials of two GMO corn varieties (NK603 and stacked event MON 89034 x NK603) in multiple locations in Nigeria.
In a press release, the groups said they are particularly alarmed about the commercial release of Bt cotton into Nigeria, which is being phased out in Burkina Faso due to the “inferior lint quality” of the GMO cultivars.
Nnimmo Bassey, the director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, one of the leading opposition groups, said in a statement:
“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.”
Bassey rightfully asks what biosafety legislation was used to authorize field trials for Monsanto.
Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan signed the National Biosafety Management Bill into law last year, allowing GMO cultivation in the country, but considering that corn is a staple for 170 million Nigerians, it behooves them to protect their national food sources — and STOP Monsanto.
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