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AFSA Raises The Alarm Over Release Of GMOs Into Nigeria

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The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) has raised the alarm over alleged release of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) despite pending suit in the Federal High Court.

The allegation was released in a statement to LEADERSHIP titled Nigerians Beware: NBMA, NABDA and Monsanto, Release GMOs into Nigerian Environment Despite Pending Suit in the Federal High Court, and signed by AFSA’s chairperson and coordinator Food Sovereignty Programme, Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje.

According to Bassey-Orovwuje the organisation was reacting to the reports that, while the court is yet to deliver her judgment on an ongoing case, the defendants, NBMA, NABDA and Monsanto, in defiance to court processes, had on Thursday, July 26, 2018, gone ahead to register and release some Genetically Modified (GM) products and the Bt cotton – one of the subjects of litigation, into the Nigerian environment.

“The newly released and registered products, amongst others include, two transgenic hybrid cotton: MRC 7377 BG11 and MRC 7361 BG1.1 which were developed by Mahyco Nigeria. Mahyco is another name for Monsanto and MRC 7377 BG11 and MRC 7361 BG11 refer to the same Bt Cotton (Mon 15985) that is the subject of litigation”

She said the information is displayed on the webpage of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri- Biotech Applications (ISAAA).

Mrs Orovwuje stated that “this singular action speaks volumes. If these agencies can show 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?”

The activist further called on the federal government to notify Nigerians if the NBMA, NABDA and Monsanto are above the laws of Nigeria.

She however called on Nigerians, farmers and potential traders and buyers, to beware of the threat to their foods, health and environment.

Recalling the ongoing legal battle between the Organisation and the promoters of the alleged release, she said she was reacting to the announcement by the national committee on naming, registration and release of crops, livestock/fisheries varieties at National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB) and remarks made by Dr Rufus Ebegba, DG/CEO of National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) and Dr Rose Gidado, the country representative of Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) and staff of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA).

“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.”

She noted that both agencies, NBMA and NABDA, are defendants in the pending suit filed by the Registered Trustees of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and sixteen other civil society organisations in the Federal High Court of Justice of Nigeria in the Abuja Judicial Division, September 13th 2017, suit No FHC/ABJ/C5/846/2017.

The plaintiffs – HOMEF and sixteen others, sought amongst other reliefs, a declaration that NBMA, the first defendant in this case, did not comply with the provisions of the National Biosafety Management Agency Act in granting the permits to the third defendant, Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited and NABDA, the fourth defendant in this case; for the purpose of commercial release of Bt Cotton (Mon 15985) and confined field trial with (1) NK603 and (2) MON89034 x NK603 maize in Nigeria.

The plaintiffs also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd defendant and 4th defendant by themselves, their agents, servants, workmen or otherwise or whatsoever from carrying out any activity or further activities pursuant to the permits granted by the 1st defendant.

The Plaintiffs considered the permits granted by NBMA to Monsanto and NABDA in breach of and a threat to the fundamental human rights of the plaintiffs as well as the general public as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended in 2011.

They also want an order revoking the permits granted by the first defendant to the third and fourth defendants/respondents. The plaintiffs opined that the issuance of the said permits on the May 1, 2016, which happened to be a public holiday being Sunday and Workers’ Day, is illegal, null and void.

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