By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA—The House of Representatives, yesterday, mandated its Committees on Agricultural Production and Services, Customs and Excise to investigate the circumstances that led to the importation of genetically modified maize without clearance from the National Biosafety Management Agency.
It asked the Federal Government to also stop the alleged importation of modified maize into Nigeria, pending the conclusion of the investigation.
The call followed a motion, entitled, “Need to investigate the alleged importation of genetically modified maize into Nigeria,” co-sponsored by Kingsley Obinna Onwubuariri (Imo State) and Munir Babba Dan Agundi (Kano State).
The motion called on the House to note that “the agricultural revolution of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is geared towards ensuring sufficiency in food production and Nigerians have heeded the call and have gone back to the farms, the result of which was an impressive harvest in maize, which forced the price down.”
It also stated that the House was “aware of recent reports in The Sun and Nigeria Today newspapers of September 8, 2017, calling on the Federal Government to probe the Nigeria Customs Service and other agencies at the seaport over an alleged importation of seven ship-loads of maize by Olam Group.
“Also aware that following recent information by scientists and researchers, more than half of the countries of the European Union, including Germany, France, Scotland, Italy, Austria, Greece, Poland and Belgium have either completely banned or placed severe restrictions on consumption of genetically modified products in their respective countries;
“Informed that Olam Group imported the maize partly to feed its newly built feed mill factory in Kaduna rather than patronizing local farmers.”
Some members who spoke in favour of the motion, expressed concern on the health implications of the product.
The committees were eventually asked to recommend appropriate measures to protect the nation from importation of such products in future, and report back within eight weeks for further legislative action.