From: Babatunde Azeez, Abuja.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has said he thinks the whole matter of GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) is more in the media than science.
Ogbeh disclosed this yesterday in Abuja at the world press briefing on the newly released MAHYCO C 567 BGII and MAHYCO C 571 BGII varieties of transgenic hybrid cotton.
He said if the country continues to import the way it does, the nation’s currency will further depreciate.
He explained that farmers in the country are right now making so much profit from agriculture and that jobs are presently being provided across the agricultural value chain stressing that, “we wont run away from BT cotton simply because we are afraid.”
The Minister noted that farmers consisted 90% of pilgrims in the last hajj that had 55,000 pilgrims, with farmers paying their fares and that of their wives.
His words: “I think this whole thing about GMO is more in the media than science, if we continue with the way we are going with our currency, it will continue to go down.
“This last hajj, 55,000 people went for the pilgrimage and 90% of them where farmers who paid for their way and that of their wives, farmers in the country are getting richer.”
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu who spoke earlier explained that the new hybrids of cotton is high yielding, tolerates bollworm, has higher maturity rate and the fibres and oil from the cotton is of higher quality.
Onu said so far, their is no scientific evidence that shows that this variety of cotton are hazardous to the health of humans.
He noted that his ministry makes sure that whatever is released to the market and farmers must be safe.
Onu said the government will like anyone writing on BT cotton being hazardous to provide scientific evidence.
He also added that the introduction two varieties of cotton into cultivation will help in fighting extreme poverty in the country and revive the textile industry.
His words: “It is important to note that this research was done with our own local variety of cotton, from every available research as of today, their is no disadvantage to thia variety because their is what is called the crime protein, which could be hazardous but generally if you touch this BT cotton their will be no effect because for human beings out guts is acidic so even if it is ingested, our guts does not have those receptors tht binds and creates those physiological changes that leads to death in insects.
“We have looked at it because we must make sure that whatever we release to our farmers or the Nigerian market must be safe and we are happy that their is no scientific evidence that shows otherwise so this is essentially a win win situation where we are going to improve on the yeild by planting this two varieties. So anyone writing about it being hazardous to humans should provide scientific evidence.
“The bollworm that attacks and devastate cotton fields can no longer be effective, the yield of this cotton variety is higher, the cotton and fibre from the cotton is higher and this variety has a higher maturity rate.” He added.
Also speaking at the event, the Director General/ CEO of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) Prof. Alex U. Akpa emphasised that the BT technology will address global warming issues affecting agriculture such as flooding, low rain fall among a few.
He explained that the local advantages of the old verity off Cotton’s were not changed but improved to better serve the textile industry as it is been practiced in other developing and developed countries.