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Protecting Our Land and Food Security: We Should Be Worried

By Achamao Onuche Joseph
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For every time Stanley Meets Mutesa as described by David Ribadu, from the pre-colonial days till recently, the story ends with Africa opening up her doors to episodes of exploitation. The first is mental exploitation; making us believe we have a problem and the West has the key to solving them with all holy intention. Next comes the resource exploitation; taking away raw materials (with pennies i.e. our crude oil, ingenious seeds, cash crops and plants), process abroad and importing back to us (in fortune we pay i.e the processed fuel and GMO seeds and her associated herbicides and fertilizers). They take away our local, indigenous seed and plant varieties especially the highly demanded staple foods (cassava, maize, soya beans, etc); telling us our problem is food shortage and posing as a messiah to offer subsidized herbicides and fertilizers (with long episodes of safety instructions that both the educated and uneducated farmers cannot understand) the resulting application is the destruction of our agricultural land.

We must choose how we defined ourselves and our problem (i.e food wastage and not food shortage). We must seek our own solution and new learning; we must start to ask ourselves real questions and seek our own solution first from our history and question the intentions of supposed helping nations.

Even when some Western countries in Europe (Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungry, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania and Switzerland) have all put a ban on “GMO for Food” to protect the safety of THEIR OWN CITIZENS, our elected Legislatures and the Executives in the Nigeria Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), continue to push Nigerian citizens towards the consumption of GMO Food. Today Nigerians do not know which food is GM or Not. The senators and legislatures, as well as the protection agencies (NAFDAC, CPC, NBMA, etc) are not pushing for GMO labelling in Nigeria nor a ban of GMO for Food like their more informed European counterparts. We have no stiff sanctions, strict liability and redress on GMO in Nigeria.

Even when other counties like India and Burkina-Faso have gotten their cotton market threatened with Western capitalist corporations, who come into their borders under the guise of providing technical support, export and prototype indigenous local seed and plant varieties - to birth improve engineered GM variety to capture local economies, Nigeria refuses to heed wisdom for the selfish gain of a few. Indigenous local seeds and plant varieties previously used by farmers are destroyed by applied chemicals; herbicides and inorganic fertilizers sold by the same western companies; this compromises and condition of our soil in a way that only their GM seeds flourish. These GM seeds cannot be stored for replanting, thus our local farmers and the entire country will depend on these western companies to purchase seeds and their supporting chemicals forever. To secure the exploitation, these capitalist companies support the drafting and shaping of local laws, and policies in their target countries, they shape patent laws which give them the rights to ownership of new engineered specie i.e GMO or labelled improved engineered seeds.

Where are the toxicology studies that are suppose to prove that the GMO foods approved by the NBMA are safe and who is paying for these studies? Where are the laws that allow Nigerians the right to choose what they eat - organic or GM? Where are the sanction laws?

How safe will the future of our children be in the next 50 years; when they have to import and buy food whose genes have been modified in the laboratory? How safe will our children be in the next 50 years when the farm lands are too infertile to grow food without chemical fertilizers? Will our blood line still exist if the GM foods we eat today are found to be unsafe in the next 50 years making our grand children possibly sterile; simply because we failed to have publicly verifiable GMO safety test or GMO for food?

For a lot of International Corporation, it’s all about the profit, market expansion and repatriating monies back to their home country. We must make no mistake to think any person, nation or her corporations, consider African lives or the lives of our children more sacred than the profit they stand to gain today.

We must be wise and courageous enough to protect our nation, her people, her tradition, environment, resources (land, seeds, plants and forest), her unity and our generation unborn... else we are better of dead today as a people with no identity and pride.

Achamao Onuche Joseph is a Student of University of Abuja, Writes from Wuse II, Abuja.

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