May 1, 2014
I never knew anything about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) or Monsanto (A Multi-National chemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation) before now, until I mistakenly and thankfully came across an article by Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour. This article might be a very lengthy and boring read, but if you are interested in Nigeria as I am, and if you don’t want to wake up in 2022 hearing news akin to our ceding of Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon, then make sure you read it all the way to the end.
First of all, I would love to thank Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour for putting down that piece that has drawn my attention, to what seems to be a grave mistake which might turn deadly if we (Our Minister for Agriculture and the FG) continue on this track.
GMOs are Genetically Modified Organisms and Monsanto is a major player in GMO manufacturing. They claim to produce seeds that are drought resistant, weed resistant, pest resistant and also high yielding. These claims most often than not have been proved to be false, and being a company whose sole aim is to make profit by any means necessary, we’re often deceived to believe that Genetically Engineered seeds are the way to go in our quest for increased food production, job creation and poverty reduction.
Our country Nigeria just became a member of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition Initiative, an organisation created by the US and the G8, probably for their benefit and not ours. As usual, it promises to create jobs, reduce poverty and increase food productions. The sole aim of this alliance is to coerce African countries to change policies that will hinder the operation of companies like Monsanto in exchange for aid money.
The thing I want you to know about allowing GMO, Monsanto and other of such big organisations into Nigeria is that, the loss far outweighs the gain. These multinational companies will seek government to change land and seed laws to favour them (already in progress or might have finished the process). This gives them control of our lands and what we choose to plant. Farmers will be forced to buy their seeds instead of being allowed to use the natural seeds. The eye catching thing about these Monsanto seeds is that they have been genetically altered to be sterile, that is they can’t be replanted.
So just imagine that a farmer buys genetically modified seeds from Monsanto, plants them, harvests, and can’t plant part of his harvest. If these harvests are sterile enough not to be planted, how then is it that they are good enough for our consumption? That’s a question you should ponder on. This cycle of dependence continues, and with Monsanto controlling the price of seeds, our farmers have no other choice than to continue in this modern form of slavery, since they can no longer plant natural seeds.
The seeds been sterile are an understatement of some sort, because apart from that, they alter the composition of the soil, so in the end, farmers must continue to buy seeds from these companies in other to plant, because the soil can no longer accommodate natural seeds. With poor yield and more of their income being spent on pesticides which coincidentally are also been manufactured and sold by these companies, the farmers get into big debts that they can’t pay off, while these strong pesticides and herbicides find a way to the soil, rendering it useless and polluting our groundwater in the process. These are the same farmers they claim to be so eager to help. About 250,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide since Monsanto and their genetically engineered crops were allowed into the Indian Agricultural industry. Although the company has debunked these claims, and also added that their company or product has nothing to do with the increased farmer suicides, so many reports claim otherwise.
As Kwame Nkrumah said in his book Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism; “the result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the world. Investment, under neo-colonialism, increases, rather than decreases, the gap between the rich and poor countries of the world.” This seems to be the best way to describe the policies of the major world powers when it comes to Africa.
By allowing Monsanto and her likes to force their seeds on us Nigerians, we would have sold out our most important right yet, which is our right to life. We would have been fooled by the G8 whose member nations have placed bans on genetically engineered seeds. By giving Monsanto and her likes control of what we plant, we’ve have also given them control over what we eat and our lives will forever be at risk in their capitalistic hands. It is ok to be underdeveloped, but right now, the FG and our Hon Minister for Agriculture is making us look stupid in the eyes of the world.
I’ve tried every means to get people interested in what we stand to lose if we don’t fight this Monsanto and their genetically engineered seeds now, and only two people have shown interest in how dire and urgent the situation is. Thanks to Mark Amaza who encouraged me to write this piece to bring awareness to this fight and last but not the least, King Duoye Alfred who apart from making contacts to help with this fight exclaimed “Monsanto again…I’ll read but seeing Monsanto is enough for me” when I sent him the link to Gbadebo Rhodes-viours’s article.
Saatah Nubari is on twitter @Saatah
First published on SaharaReporters