What do you need to know about GMO foods in Nigeria? Is it safe? What are pros and cons of GMO foods? Find out useful facts in this article and save your health!
What do Nigerians know about GMO foods? A small study was conducted only seven years ago among Nigerian scientists. According to its results, there was low awareness about GMOs amongst participants. However, everything has changed. Awareness of GMOs has grown with the internet connectivity and the explosion of social media in Nigeria. Interesting to know that, resentment and resistance also have grown.
Opponents of GMOs in Nigeria think that GMOs have plenty disadvantages. There are many reasons why Nigeria should not support genetic engineering of food.
First of all, it is damage that GMO plants and agricultural practices have caused to biodiversity.
Secondly, it is the dependency on foreign companies that is created.
Thirdly, they say about potential negative health consequences of consuming GM food.
Fourthly, they call GMOs “the Monsanto Poison.” Monsanto’s role in the creation of Agent Orange is another reason for the mistrust of the GMO initiative in Nigeria. GMO critics say Monsanto’s Agent Orange was used in targeting food crops as part of a starvation campaign, destroying an estimated 10 million hectares of agricultural land.
In addition, conspiracy theorists are sure that GMO initiative is part of a grand scheme to depopulate the developing world. In a National Security Memorandum obtained from the U.S. National Archives, Dr. Henry Kissinger wrote: “Depopulation should be the highest priority of U.S. foreign policy towards the Third World”.
Finally, the GMO opponents point out that genetically modified corn intended to produce sterility in human males as an obvious indication that GMOs could be used for eugenics.
But there are many proponents for GMOs in Nigeria and some of them are scientists. They note that GMO technologies help us understand the biology and physiology of plants, They claim that genetic engineering has led to the development of improved crops such as soybean, cotton, coffee, cowpea, cassava, tomato, banana and some other products. They also say the technique was used to generate crops with improved protein content, higher oil yield, and plants that serve as biofactories.
Supporters of GMO technology in Nigeria also assume that foods have to be produced with reduced environmental impact. Especially this is true if we take into consideration the challenges which food production faces. We are talking about climate change, population growth, and competition for arable lands. This concerns Africa continent in the highest degree. Therefore, GMO supporters say there is urgent need to adopt new technologies, such as genetic engineering, to address the looming crisis.
A Biosafety Law
Despite the reassurances of the safety and economic benefits of GMO foods, the opposition is hardly placated. Unfortunately, the fact remains that most developed countries do not consider GMOs to be safe. Those are nations with even stronger risk assessment and regulatory systems.
The Nigerian Senate passed a Biosafety Bill in 2011 as a response to the growing controversy. That bill was never signed into law because it was passed just a day before the end of the life of that Assembly. Anyway, the new version of that bill is awaiting presidential ascent.
What should be done?
Hopefully, the Nigerian government will come up with a policy on GMOs based on accurate scientific facts. Those policies should also give consideration to the fears and aspirations of the Nigerian people. The policy should also solve the problem with the labeling of GMO foods.
Nigerians have observed the debate over genetic engineering in the Western world for over 40 years. We hope that Nigerians will apply the lessons learned from the experience of others. The current and future generation of people will benefit from that!