From Azeez Ibrahim, Abuja
National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) and National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) have come under attack following the deployment of Genetically modified products into the Nigerian market which Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Africa and Chair Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) says contravene a pending suit in the Federal High Court.
AFSA’s Coordinator Food Sovereignty Program,Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje, in a press release in Abuja, personally signed by her revealed that the decision of NBMA and NABDA was not in the best interest of Nigerians, while their disregard for judicial process surrenders the nation’s sovereignty to corporate interests.
Orovwuje stated that the commercialisation of Bt Cotton in the country is not a victory but a breach of law and order.
She explained further that both NBMA and NABDA 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.
According to her: “The Plaintiffs – HOMEF and sixteen others, sought amongst other reliefs, a declaration that NBMA, the 1st Defendant in this case did not comply with the provisions of the National Biosafety Management Agency Act in granting the permits to the 3rdDefendant, Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited and NABDA the 4th Defendant in this case; for the purpose of commercial release of Bt Cotton (Mon 15985) and confined field trial with (1) NK603 and (2) MON89034 x NK603 maize in Nigeria.
“The plaintiffs also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd defendant and 4th defendant by themselves, their agents, servants, workmen or otherwise or whatsoever from carrying out any activity or further activities pursuant to the permits granted by the 1st defendant. The Plaintiffs considered the permits granted by NBMA to Monsanto and NABDA in breach of and a threat to the Fundamental Human Rights of the Plaintiffs as well as the general public as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended in 2011.
“The newly released and registered products amongst others include two transgenic hybrid cotton: MRC 7377 BG11 and MRC 7361 BG1.1 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. This information is displayed on the webpage of the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri- Biotech Applications (ISAAA).” she added.
Orovwuje noted that the plaintiffs also sought an order revoking the permits granted by NBMA to Monsanto and NABDA, while stating that the issuance of the said permits on the 1st of May 2016 which was a public holiday being Sunday and Workers’ Day is illegal, null and void.
She stressed that NBMA ought to be unbiased and ensuring a thorough regulation of these products while that Nigeria is not ripe for commercialization of Genetically Modified (GM) products.
Mrs. Orovwuje argued 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?”
However, she asked Federal Government to notify Nigerians if the NBMA, NABDA and Monsanto are above the laws of Nigeria while advising Nigerians, farmers and potential traders and buyers to beware of this threat to foods, health and environment.