Samuel Bello, Abuja
The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) and the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) have come under attack for registering and releasing some Genetically-Modified (GM) products and the Bt cotton, one of the subjects of litigation into the country, despite pending suit in the Federal High Court.
Both agencies are defendants in the pending suit filed by the Registered Trustees of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and sixteen other Civil Society Organisations in the Federal High Court of Justice of Nigeria in the Abuja Judicial Division, September 13th 2017, suit No FHC/ABJ/C5/846/2017.
The newly-released and registered products amongst others include two transgenic hybrid cotton: MRC 7377 BG11 and MRC 7361 BG11. They were developed by Mahyco Nigeria. Mahyco is another name for Monsanto and MRC 7377 BG11 and MRC 7361 BG11 refer to the same Bt Cotton (Mon 15985) that is the subject of litigation.
Reacting to the announcement by National Committee on Naming, Registration and Release of Crops, Livestock/Fisheries varieties at National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), Coordinator of Food Sovereignty Program for Friends of the Earth Africa, Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje, stated that the commercialisation of Bt Cotton in the country is not a victory but a breach of law and order.
“It is also a pointed disregard of the best interest of the Nigerian people and their right to be consulted and respected. This adds a new dimension to the suspicion that disregard for judicial processes is taking a worrisome turn in current situation of things in Nigeria and if we have surrendered our sovereignty to corporate interests.
“This information is displayed on the webpage of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri- Biotech Applications (ISAAA). Dr. Rufus Ebegba, DG/CEO of NBMA, a regulator whose Agency is named in this suit and an agency that is supposed to be unbiased and ensuring a thorough regulation of these products stated in the light of this development that he has severally said that the country is ripe for commercialization of Genetically Modified (GM) products.
Mrs Orovwuje added that “this singular action speaks volumes. If these Agencies can show this brazen disregard for due process, if they can show this level of contempt for an ongoing court case over a matter of such grave importance, how do Nigerians trust them with their food, crops and livestock?”
The Coordinator however called on the federal government to notify Nigerians if the NBMA, NABDA and Monsanto are above the laws of Nigeria. She also urged Nigerians, farmers, potential traders and buyers to be aware of the threat to their foods, health and environment.