A group of civil society organisations on Wednesday, urged the National Assembly to repeal the National Biosafety Management Act, insisting it was not in the best interest of the country.

In a peaceful protest at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja, the group said the Act permitted the use and consumption of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) which was injurious to human and animal health.

GMO refers to organisms whose genetic materials have been intentionally altered by introducing foreign genes using genetic engineering method to enhance output.

One of the protesters and Convener of Nigerians against GMO, Mr Rhodes Gbadebo, said that the technology was a threat to the life of citizens and the economy of the country.

“It is a technology that harms the body; it is a technology that harms the economy, and it is a technology that is not in the interest of Nigerians and the citizens on the long term.

“We want the National Assembly to look at the National BioSafety Act because it does not assure the safety of Nigerians.

“This is because the regulatory agency that is supposed to regulate the technology has on its board, a promoter of the technology; there is a conflict of interest, we are not sure that these people are working in the interest of Nigerians,’’ he said.

He urged the National Assembly to look at the Act from the perspective of other countries such as France, Germany and Japan, to understand the measures put in place to ensure the safety of their citizens.

As against the view that GMO would ensure food security, Gbadebo argued that people were hungry not because there was no food, but because there was lack of access to food.

He blamed the situation on lack of infrastructure to move food from the farm to the plate as 60 percent of food was often wasted from the point of harvest.

According to him, ensuring infrastructure that would enable timely movement of food from the farm to the market would reduce post-harvest losses and boost food production.

Gbadebo explained that moreover, GMO did not self-proliferate, meaning that when it was planted, its seeds could be replanted in the next planting season.

He said that farmers would have to annually depend on foreign seed companies for seeds to plant which were priced in dollars.

He said adopting such a technology was tantamount to giving up the food sovereignty of the country and urged the government to support farmers with farm inputs and research and extension services to attain food security.

Gbadebo said that GMOs were already in the country, noting that the people must take interest and defend the local food system and ensure their health was not compromised.

He said a lot of studies had shown that GMO had negative effects on cells, recalling that in 2016, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Glyphosate, one of the main chemicals in GMO food, was carcinogenic.

Receiving the protesters, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ecology and Climate Change, Sen. Bukar Ibrahim, assured the group that the National Assembly would revisit the Act.

“We are all Nigerians, we are all concerned, we believe in what is best for Nigeria and this is the beginning of something which is likely to happen in the future.

“Let us all put our heads together, work together if it is a question of changing the law in its entirety or modifying it, we will do what is necessary,’’ Ibrahim said.

Source: PM News

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