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article imageNigerians say no to Monsanto's GMO maize and cotton

By Karen Graham     Mar 29, 2016 in Environment
One hundred groups representing over five million Nigerians are vehemently opposing Monsanto’s attempts to introduce genetically modified maize and cotton into the country's food and farming system.
The groups submitted their written objections to the Nigerian biosafety regulators on Monday, citing numerous health and environmental concerns, according to a press release by Home for Mother Earth Foundation.
Shortly before he left office, former President Goodluck Jonathan was quick to sign the National Biosafety Management Bill into law, despite opposition to the legislation. In addition, the opposition groups also point out there is a clear conflict of interest involved in the public support of Monsanto GMO crops by Nigerian regulatory authorities.
The opposition is alarmed that this latest application by Monsanto for the environmental release and placing in the market in Zaria and surrounding towns of GM cotton (Bt cotton, event MON 15985) comes so close on the heels of the failure of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso. The Bt cotton is being phased out in Burkina Faso because of the inferior lint quality of the cultivar.
Monsanto also has another application before the National Biosafety Management Agency. It's the company's application for confined field trials of two GMO maize varieties (NK603 and stacked event MON 89034 x NK603) in multiple locations in Nigeria.
Nnimmo Bassey, the director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, said in the press release, “We are totally shocked that it should come so soon after peer-reviewed studies have showed that the technology has failed dismally in Burkina Faso. It has brought nothing but economic misery to the cotton sector there and is being phased out in that country where compensation is being sought from Monsanto.”
Bassey also pointed out that because the Biosafety Act didn't come into service until very recently, what legislation was used to "authorize and regulate the field trials in the past in accordance with international law and best biosafety practices?"
Nigeria's opposition to GMO crops is because of the herbicide-tolerant traits of Monsanto's seeds that make them tolerant to glyphosate. People have heeded the World Health organization's conclusion, written in March 2015 that glyphosate is a "probable" carcinogen.
There is also the concern that the GMO seeds will contaminate local varieties, and more importantly, affect the health of the 170 million Nigerians that depend on maize as a staple in their diets. All this aside, EcoWatch reports the groups say that Nigeria does not have the infrastructure in place to adequately control and monitor the environmental and human risks of GMO crops and glyphosate.
More about Nigeria, monsanto gmos, corn and cotton, conflict of interest, opposition to gmos
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