The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has trained some judicial official in Abuja on the fundamental flaws in the Nigeria Biosafety Management Agency Act 2015 F would make it impossible to protect the interest of the public and avert the negative implications of Genetically Modified Foods on Nigerians’ health, economy and environment.
This is even as a Public health experts and A Molecular Biologist, Dr Kashmir Ifeanyi, called on government to review the processes for approving Genetically Modified crops (GMOS) in the interest of humanity and the environment.
Addressing the judicial officers during the one-day workshop held in Abuja at the weekend, the Country Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) Dr. Ninnmo Bassey expressed worry that 6years after the signing into law of the Nigeria Biosafety Management Agency, the agency issued 19 permits for the introduction of GMOs into the country.
He said 8 permit was issued for field trials, 9 permits were issued for direct use for food or for feed processing and two permit for commercial release that is the GM cowpea and GM cotton, the same law that country like the United States has refused to sign for some years now.
He accused NBMA of acting more like a GM promoter than a regulator alleging that products have been approved with very little of public knowledge and objections made concerned organization are often neglected.
Bassey however called for review or a repeal of the NBMA act in the interest of Nigerians.
Speaking on the Act, Dr Kashmir Ifeanyi, said the Act when reviewed would help protect the population such that consumers will be able to choose what they eat adding that the regulatory framework should be reviewed like that of. India where about four parastatals participate in the approval process.
He stressed that the approval for GMOs should not only be left in the hands of one institutions, National Biosafety Management Agency, saying the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development should all be part of the approval process.
Ifeanyi expressed concerns that Nigeria has approved several GMOs but the risk assessment is questionable as they are largely predicated on the claims by the applicants, of which Nigeria is supposed to get other opinion about the GM crop before approvals.
He pointed out that, currently Nigeria has approved GM Cassava in two places, there is also the approval and commercial release of BT cotton and BT Beans, adding that early in 2022 the agency also approved herbicide tolerant maize, coupled with the approval of the large-scale importation of GM Wheat from Argentina.