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Experts urge First Lady to champion fight against GMOs in Nigeria

Food experts have urged the First Lady, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu, to champion the fight against the use, proliferation and consumption of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the country.

The experts spoke to newsmen on Wednesday on the sidelines of a workshop organised for media practitioners by Health of Mother Earth (HOMEF) a Civli Society Organisation (CSO) in Abuja.

The workshop is titled “Transforming the Nigerian/African Food System to Sustain-Ability (TAFS).”

GMOs can either be animal, plant, or microorganism whose gene has been altered in a way that do not occur naturally to achieve a desired trait, character or outcome using genetic engineering technologies.

Dr Jackie Ikeotuonye, a nutritionist and Botanist, observed that GM beans, maize, cassava, cotton among others had been introduced into the Nigerian market.

According to her, the GM products are neither properly regulated nor well labeled to accurately inform ordinary Nigerians before consuming them.

The expert said that there was no empirical evidence to show that GM foods were safe for human or animal consumption.

Ikeotuonye rather said that the whole conversations about GMOs were shredded in secrecy; saying that there were lots of controversies about GMO, “this should be halted.”

She said that it was noteworthy that the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) had come out to say it had not licensed any GMOs product in the country.

The agency also said that if any such GM product was found in any departmental store or supermarket, such was being sold illegally without the consent of NAFDAC.

According to the nutritionist, there is a surge in cases of cancer and other strange diseases in the country which can be attributed to the food people eat.

“The First Lady recently started a commendable campaign that encourages people to plant vegetables and other food items around their homes.

“We are calling on her to take up that fight against production and consumption of GMOs in the country because of what she is doing.

“We are hoping she will pick up this information and begin to interrogate it and to fight GMO to a standstill,” she said.

Mr Donald Ofoegbu, the Coordinator, Alliance for Action on Pesticide in Nigeria, said the nation could grow its food without chemicals.

“Nigeria does not need pesticides or GMOs to feed the populace.”

He said farmers could grow food without the use of chemical pesticides or GMOs to feed the nation but by using organic methods, saying that several examples abound.

According to him, there is a lot of smallholder farmers and in a lot of home gardens, people grow foods within their backyards organically.

He, however, lamented that 40 per cent of the food produced by smallholder farmers was wasted as a result of lack of infrastructure.

Ofoegbu said that what Nigerian farmers really needed was accessible roads, storage and processing facilities among others to ensure food sufficiency for the country.

He called on relevant authorities and development partners to look into infrastructure and shun the GMOs initiative as it was a threat to people and the sovereignty of Nigeria.

Ofoegbu said that no fewer than 19 countries in Europe had banned GMOs, saying it could be an act of terrorism to bring GMO to Russia.

“Let us see the government put their weight behind it; it is not just something the first lady should do alone.

“The Ministry of Agriculture also has policies that are talking about food sovereignty, food security, getting people to grow food; that is the direction we need to go,” he said.

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