Civil society organisations have said the introduction of genetically modified crops is, like the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, neither in the interest of Nigerians nor the environment.
The rights groups said regulatory mechanisms are not moving as fast as the GMOs invention, “so why move into the unknown?”
For the PIB, the CSOs said it looks like host communities are guilty of something, as it pitches the people one side against the government and multinationals on the other side.
The CSOs are We the People, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA; Health of Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF; Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, and The GMO Free Nigeria Alliance.
And the occasion was a meeting with journalists on GMOs and biosafety in Lagos.
Dr. Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director; Joyce Brown, Programme Manager, both of HOMEF; Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director, and Aderonke Ige, Associate Director, both of CAPPA; Ken Henshaw, Executive Director, We the People, and Chima Williams, Acting Executive Director, ERA/FoEN, among others, stood in for the CSOs at the PIB/GMOs lunch discourse with newsmen.
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They held that research puts the future of food security in the hands of small-scale farmers and, therefore, agroecology is the best form, not GMOs.
Agroecology, they explained, is the system of farming that prioritises the health of the ecosystem. They also made the following points:
*GMOs cannot stop bandits from displacing farmers, which is part of the cause of food scarcity
*Farmers cannot read labels that come with GMOs seeds and are also being force into mono-cropping, which denies the soil of the advantages of mixed-cropping
*No centres for indigenous science and the government is allowing “safe” GMOs into the country without making the tests results public
*GMOs can be useful in medicine, pharmacy, cosmetics, why the focus “in our foods?”
Concerning the PIB, the CSOs said it was skewed to imprison the actual communities that suffer the brunt of exploration as if they are guilty of something and set up to be punished.
They particularly listed what could be done about gas flaring, for which deadlines have been shifted 12 times:
*Oil firms should pay the full value of gas flaring
*Levies be used for welfare and infrastructure in affected communities
*Grounds and framework for excemption to be made clearer
*Flaring end date be defined and structure put in place
*Issues surrounding the flaring must be addressed during the harmonisation of PIB. “No PIB is better than a bad PIB,” the CSOs concluded.