Stakeholders at the just conclude Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) conference has called on the federal government to enforce the preservation of the county’s natural and indigenous food.
Just as they advocated that farmers’ have the right to own, use and share their seeds and be involved in charting the path for the development the country’s food and agricultural systems.
The stakeholders stated this and many more as part of their resolutions at its workshop on Seeds, Foods and Biosafety in Nigeria which held on Thursday in Abuja
The resolutions signed by 23 different organisations said the state of biosafety in Nigeria requires critical interrogations as concerns mount on the implications of modern agricultural biotechnology.
The CSOs said concerns have further increased as Nigeria begins move to sign onto the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV).
The meeting which brought together over 100 stakeholders made up of consumers, farmers, academics, researchers, government officials, medical professionals and representatives from Civil Society Organizations looked into these concerns and defined a sustainable course for the country with regard to seed laws, agricultural productivity and food sovereignty, made commitments to enforce the demand for the preservation of farmers’ rights, indigenous seeds varieties and overall biosafety.
The stakeholders further said genetic modification of food crops is not needed in Nigeria.
“As the challenges of food production in Nigeria lie outside the realm of supposed solutions offered by genetic engineering. What is needed is adequate support for farmers in terms of extension services, credit schemes, storage and processing facilities to reduce wastage, good roads to access markets, and increased access to agricultural land for increased productivity and food security.
“Colonialism and neocolonialism are implicated in the disruption of food systems and in the introduction of unnatural plants and animals. Agricultural biotechnology will foster corporate control of food production and disrupt local economies and thus we oppose its use in Nigeria.
“In order to protect Nigerians and ensure a robust management of our biosafety we need strict regulatory frameworks that protect/promote the rights of farmers and the rights of the people to safe food and environment. The National biosafety Management Agency Act 2015 needs to be reviewed to prioritize the precautionary principle, strengthen public participation, and include strict provisions for liability and redress,” it said.
It also called for funding of Agricultural research institutions to produce wholesome foods and to proffer sustainable, consumer friendly solutions to challenges of agricultural productivity.
According to the stakeholders, there is need for rigorous training for small scale farmers on the implications of modern biotechnology, seed treaties and the threat to farmers’ rights.
“Asking that information and terminologies on genetic engineering technology and seeds issues should be simplified to aid thorough understanding.”
The conference opposed Nigeria’s plan to sign the Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties (UPOV 1991) urging authorities to design its own plant variety protection laws that is suitable for Nigerians.