THE Federal agencies overseeing the control and regulations, including promotions of Genetically Modified (GM) products in Nigeria – National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) and the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) have come under severe attack for registering and releasing some products into Nigerian market.
Director-General of NBMA, Rufus Ebegba had earlier announced at a meeting few days ago that Nigerians can now use or consume GM products after they have undergone thorough screening by Nigerian government.
Also, Acting Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Alex Akpan, had at a press briefing in Abuja disclosed that Genetically Modified cottons have been distributed to no fewer than 1000 large scale farmers across the nation.
Akpan informed journalists that the National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crop Materials at its 26th meeting in Ibadan on approved the official registration of 2Bt Cotton varieties known as MRC 7377 BG 11 and MRC7361 BG11.
However, it would be recalled that both agencies had been dragged to Federal High Court of Justice of Nigeria, Abuja on September 13th 2017, with suit No FHC/ABJ/C5/846/2017 by the Registered Trustees of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and sixteen other Civil Society Organisations.
The pending suit is still restraining the defendants from releasing GM products till when judgement will be decided.
Reacting, to the development in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Thursday, the Coordinator of Food Sovereignty Program for Friends of the Earth Africa, Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje, stated that the commercialisation of Bt Cotton in the country is not a victory but a breach of law and order.
“It is also a pointed disregard of the best interest of the Nigerian people and their right to be consulted and respected. This adds a new dimension to the suspicion that disregard for judicial processes is taking a worrisome turn in current situation of things in Nigeria and if we have surrendered our sovereignty to corporate interests.
“This information is displayed on the webpage of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri- Biotech Applications (ISAAA). Dr. Rufus Ebegba, DG/CEO of NBMA, a regulator whose agency is named in this suit and an agency that is supposed to be unbiased and ensuring a thorough regulation of these products stated in the light of this development that he has severally said that the country is ripe for commercialization of Genetically Modified (GM) products,” she said.
Mrs Orovwuje added, “This singular action speaks volumes. If these Agencies can show this brazen disregard for due process, if they can show this level of contempt for an ongoing court case over a matter of such grave importance, how do Nigerians trust them with their food, crops and livestock?”
She, however, called on the federal government to notify Nigerians if the NBMA, NABDA and Monsanto are above the laws of Nigeria. She also urged Nigerians, farmers, potential traders and buyers to be aware of the threat to their foods, health and environment.