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T-maize: FG exposing citizens to product of risky technologies—HOMEF



T-maize: FG exposing citizens to product of risky technologies---HOMEF
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Environmentalist group, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has expressed disappointment with the federal government of Nigeria over the release of Tela maize, a genetically modified varieties of maize for commercial planting in the country without detailed consideration of its health risk.

according to a report by Premium Times, Nigeria became the second country in Africa to have adopted and commercialised the genetically engineered corn after South Africa.

Tela maize is said to have been genetically engineered for improved insect resistance and drought tolerance, to boost farmers’ yield per hectare and also complement existing demand gaps.

READ ALSO:  Nigerian farmers brainstorm on dangers of agro-chemicals, GMOs

In his reaction, HOMEF’s Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey, said, “It is totally unacceptable that in the name of food sufficiency, the country is exposing its citizens to products of risky technologies without adequate, independent and/or long-term assessment on their impacts on human and environmental health.”

The environmentalist said there are many challenges associated with genetic modification crops that cannot be denied.

According to him, GMOs have been linked to cancers, diseases, allergies, and all sorts of health challenges due to environmental implications because of their dependency on toxic pesticides and the destruction of biodiversity and nutritional diversity.

“We are also concerned that there is no way to label or inform our farmers that they are planting GMO maize. To deny Nigerians the right of choice is highly objectionable and wicked,” Mr Bassey noted.

He said it is expedient that the government conduct independent long-term feeding tests and environmental/biodiversity assessments before any GM crop is approved for use and not merely testing to confirm productivity or performance.

Mr Bassey charged the Nigerian government to understand the difficulties of recalling genetically modified living organisms and to quickly withdraw the Tela maize.

On his part, Qrisstuberg Amua, Executive Director, Centre for Food Safety and Agricultural Research, noted that citizens have every reason to be worried about Tela maize adoption in the country.

He said citizens should be worried about the new maize varieties for reasons ranging from its health implications and lack of sufficient details about the maize, adding that the health implications of GMOs are motley and that they are negative, coming in the forms of cancers resulting from hormonal or endocrine and immune system disruptions.


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Mr Amua listed other possible health implications of GMOs to include fertility sterilisations, metabolic derangements, cardiovascular health disruptions, children obesity and attendant issues thereto, autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders in children, mental health derangements and early memory decay (dementia) in individuals above 40 years of age and so much more.

He emphasised that the adverse health implications could emanate from both the genetic modifications of the organism which often involve recombinant splicing or stitching of DNA either through manipulations of specialised proteins that make the Messenger RNA (MRNA) or through what looks more like cut and join using the CRISPR (an acronym for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) technology.

He urged the Nigerians to reject all GMOs and also engage in various levels of personal and community education, sensitisation, and advocacy to demand the withdrawal/repeal of policies and legislation that allow licensing and indeed permit the cultivation, distribution and public consumption of GMOs.

Meanwhile, according to a statement issued by the NBMA last week, the Director-general of the agency, Agnes Asagbra, claimed that Tela maize has not been launched in the country.

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