July 18, 2013
The founder of the Non- Governmental Organization, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) Nnimmo Bassey has decried the rate at which Africa is being put under pressure to open up to Genetically Modified Foods. Speaking on Sahara TV, Mr. Bassey threw light on the activities of powerful organizations, which are promoting the widespread use of GMOs in Nigeria and across the whole of Africa. According to to Mr. Bassey, a lot of the assertions propounded by the promoters of GMOs are actually false and this can be deduced from research conducted by reputed international scientists.
“The argument they give is that genetically engineered crops produce more; they have higher yield than natural crops, and it’s been shown that this is not true, ” he said. He revealed that several studies had been conducted on the subject, including one in which 400 scientists compared the yield rate of genetically engineered crops in the US with natural crops in Europe and found that the natural crops had a higher yield rate than the GMOs. Thus, the fable that GMOs are designed to fight hunger in Africa by helping farmers produce more is totally unfounded in his estimation. He also debunked the popular assertion that GMOs utilize fewer chemicals saying that the same companies that produce the GMOs are the same companies that produce the chemicals and that these chemicals may have been particularly designed to suit the kind of seed they produce. “Genetically engineered crops are not engineered to help anybody, ” he opined, ” they are engineered to help the industry that produces the crops .”
Mr. Bassey said companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (ITA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Rockefeller Foundation and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations are among a long list of institutions, mostly behind this push to introduce GMOs to the African continent. He said, ” the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has at this moment announced that they are going to help Nigeria build a bio-technology laboratory, and the whole idea is to prime the country to produce these genetically engineered seeds not just for Nigeria but for the whole of Africa. ”
He regretted that organizations like the IITA are promoting GMOs even though they have in the past researched and produced hybrid seeds, which seek to do the same things the GMOs claim to do- without the attendant hazards- and yet are still involved in promoting these GMOs.He also said there is a link with the energy sector as vast parcels of land would be required to grow GMOs some of which will also be used to produce biofuels like ethanol.Mr. Bassey asserted that the future of global food security lies in the hands of small-scale farmers and not in large-scale industrial farming. Backing his assertion with the 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) reports, he called for a fundamental right to eat safe food. He also touched on other current issues in Nigeria.