Renowned scientists have called on members of the National Assembly to ignore the antics of the anti-genetically modified Organisms (GMO) crops Campaigners, slamming them for trying to sabotage Nigeria’s efforts at attaining self-sufficiency in food production.
They said the antis have intensified efforts to undermine food security in the country, by relentlessly disseminating false narratives to discredit what has been scientifically proven to be a solution to the shortage of food in the world.
The scientists who swiftly responded to what they described as a false understanding of GM by the antis, said that most of the negative reports about GM crops have been propagated by people who are not certified scientists and do not have the required knowledge about it.
In a letter to the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, by the scientists, it was alleged that the anti-GM groups have intensified their discrediting missions, following the undue pressures they were getting from some unnamed European countries, that want Nigeria and Africa to remain a dumping ground for their products.
Prof. Sylvia Uzochukwu, who said she is a Professor of Food Science and Biotechnology, and also the President of the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN), said the petition submitted to the anti-GMO groups alleging that promoters of GMO and products in Nigeria were equal to terrorists, was a pure mischief.
She said, “The letter’s incendiary language linking GMOs with terrorism is very dangerous mischief, and highly concerning. It is calculated to spread misinformation and fear without any scientific basis. Biotechnology improves crops through very precise changes at the molecular level to introduce beneficial traits.
“There is international scientific consensus on GM crop safety, upheld by regulatory agencies and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine globally, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agricultural AOrganization (FAO), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the American Academy of Science, African Science Academies, European Academies of Science and many others. Nigeria’s genetically modified products have also passed the usual rigorous biosafety assessments before approval for commercial planting.
“As lawmakers, I urge you not to limit access to innovations that can alleviate poverty and ensure sustainable food security for the country’s malnourishment. Nigerian and international scientists have developed responsible, regulated solutions that guarantee yield better lives for smallholder farmers through modern crop breeding methods.
“Please always consider the humanitarian national implications and support our farmers and the general consuming public, by maintaining policies guided by science”.
Also, in a statement jointly authorised by three other scientists, Dr Issoufou Kollo AbAbdourhamane, Dr Rose Gidado and Dr Francis Onyekachi, it was noted that the anti-GMO want Nigeria ” return to the old ways of farming, which is according to them the only sustainable way of farming and safeguarding the environment. Some members of this group claim that the world produces enough food to feed six times its actual population.
The Scientists said, “There is no need to increase food production and the only existing problem to be solved is the distribution of this food. They do not say anything about who owns this food surplus and how it is going to be distributed across the globe. According to the famous Economist Milton Friedman “There is not such a thing as free lunch”, countries who need this food must pay for it.
” Asia is not going to give it rice free to Africa; if Nigerians want to eat bread, Europe is not going to give its wheat free; Nigerians have to pay for it. It is obvious that this argument may hide a dark agenda because it simply means that African countries should not endeavour to improve agricultural production but must continue importing food.
The second group of GM opponents are against GM crops because of their philosophical or religious orientations. They think that we should not mimic God. Moreover, they want to impose their philosophy on the rest of the planet. A final group is opposed to genetically modified crops for political/economic reasons”.