Nigeria permits cultivation of GM-beans
by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)
Nigerian farmers are now allowed to grow genetically modified (GM) black eyed peas. The plant produces a bt-toxin to ward off the bean pyralid. The manipulated genetic material for this comes from the genetic engineering company Monsanto.
Black eyed peas are among the most important staple foods in West Africa. The Nigerian Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) has been working on GM beans for nine years with international support. In December 2018, the IAR applied for approval for cultivation. Only one month later, the Nigerian genetic engineering authority NBMA granted the application.
Quick approval without any concerns
The quick approval was foreseeable. As early as April 2018, the government presented a timetable for the approval of GM cotton and beans. GM cotton has been allowed to be grown since autumn 2018. An alliance of 35 organisations critical of genetic engineering commented on the government's course, saying that it was shameful how the Minister of Science was recoiling the claims of the genetic engineering industry, which had long since been refuted.
Nnimmo Bassey accused the licensing authority NBMA of being more interested in fee income than in the protection of health and agriculture. He is Managing Director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), which leads the opposition to agro-genetic engineering in Nigeria. The NBMA approves of almost every application without any concerns raised and instead of undertaking a proper safety review, Bassey told the newspaper This Day. HOMEF also protested against the partly authorised, partly illegal import of food with GM ingredients into Nigeria.
Promises of the IAR
IAR Managing Director Ibrahim Abubakar explained the development of the bean to the gene technology-friendly Cornell Alliance for Science with the heavy damage caused by the bean pyralid. He promised the farmers that the demand for pesticides would decrease significantly and that the harvest would increase by 20%. The Alliance also quoted Daniel Okafor, Vice President of the AFAN Farmers' Association: "The members of his association are delighted with the approval and are ready to use the newly developed seeds."
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