Nigeria: Govt Urged to Ignore Call to Ban GM Beans

19 February 2019

The Federal Government has been urged to ignore call by some groups for a ban on the Genetically Modified (GMO) beans recently approved for release in Nigeria.

A cross-section of civil society groups led by the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium (NBBC) which made the appeal, yesterday, in Abuja said the Pod Borer Resistant Cowpea (beans) is safe and that the call was done out of ignorance.

President of NBBC, Prof. Celestine Aguoru, said the development of the Pod-Borer Resistant Cowpea (PBR-Cowpea) is a confirmation of expertise in Nigeria to be able to provide a home grown solution to the pest and diseases problems in agriculture.

He said those behind the call condemning the achievement of Nigerian scientists are enemies of the country who are bent on opening up the country to unregulated GMOs and chemicals so as to make farming unattractive.

While noting that beans from Nigeria is not accepted at the international market due to heavy use of chemicals on farms and in storage, he said "the development should worry any right thinking Nigerian but some who have constituted themselves into perpetual critics see nothing bad in that, they want government to ban the GM beans."

Prof Aguoru said the modification of beans, just one crop has brought so many benefits to the country.

He listed such benefits to include reduction in the use of dangerous chemicals, protection of Nigeria's position as the largest producer of beans and reduce the spending of Nigeria's foreign exchange in the purchase of over 500,000 tons of beans annually from other countries.

He also urged the Federal Government to increase budgetary allocations to universities and research institutes to enable them undertake research that meet national aspirations as seen in the case PBR Cowpea.

The NBBC president noted that the achievement from ABU Zaria has shown clearly that the need for a research and innovation funding for the country is long overdue.

"Government needs to expedite action on it and make the fund a reality. At NBBC we have followed the various stages of this research and development in the PBR cowpea and we could state as experts that there is nothing to worry about," he said.

It is high time government committed quality resources to research and development.

Also speaking, the National Coordinator, Real Life Global Humanitarian Foundation Engr Akinsoji Akinsola, said as responsible civil society groups, they are in support of any meaningful technology that will lessen the burden of stress farmers go through.

Akinsola, coordinator of over 76 NGOs, while commending the scientists at ABU, said the only way to make farming profitable in the country is to introduce technologies.

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