CSO’s condemns call to ban GM beans
By Ebere Agozie
Abuja, Feb, 13, 2019 (NNN) National Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium (NBBC) and some civil society groups have condemned the call by some group of people to the Federal Government to ban Genetically Modified (GM) beans.
Prof. Celestine Aguoru, the President, National Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium (NBBC) condemned the call at a news conference by the civil society organisations on Wednesday in Abuja.
NBBC is a body established to serve as a platform for promoting constructive dialogue between the scientific community, government, civil society groups, media, legal practitioners and the private sector.
It is to provide an accurate information bank that represents national interest and needs of biotechnology and biosafety experts.
Aguoru said that the development of the Pod-Borer Resistant Cowpea (PBR-Cowpea) was a confirmation that scientists in Nigeria could provide home grown solution to pest and diseases problems in agriculture.
He said that those condemning the achievement of Nigerian scientists were enemies of the country who were bent on opening up the country to unregulated GMOs and farming chemicals.
He said that the modification of beans, which is just one crop, had brought so many benefits to the country.
“It reduces the use of dangerous chemicals; protects Nigeria’s position as the largest producer of beans, reduces the spending of Nigeria’s foreign exchange in the purchase of over 500,000 tonnes of beans annually from other countries.
“Farmers can now heave a sigh of relief from chemicals which they have to spray about 10 times for each beans season and as well as ensures bumper harvest for them.’’
“The above will no longer suffer extreme pollution from the chemicals used by farmers to keep Maruca at bay.
“Beans from Nigeria are not accepted at the international market due to heavy use of chemical on farms and in storage this development should worry any right thinking Nigeria.
“But some who have constituted themselves into perpetual critics see nothing bad in that, they want government to ban the GM beans,” he said.
He said that Nigeria has had enough draw back syndrome, adding that the approval for the GM beans should not be delayed.
“What are the duties of the over 15 agricultural research institutes, the Federal Government- owned and funded universities of agriculture, faculties of agriculture, sciences, vet medicines and if they cannot proffer scientific solution to agricultural problem?
“Their duties are simply to work on the improvement of our crops, provide scientific solutions to challenges facing farmers and ensure that crops which the country have comparative advantage in producing is enhanced.”
“The universities here have started living up to their expectations so the call by arm-chaired activists should be seen as a serious disservice to the nation.
“Would they have preferred we stagnate our research and development while other nations’ progress?’’
He however used the briefing to call on the Federal Government to ignore the call by the non- scientific activists to ban the GM beans.
“It is safe and poses no proven harm to human or animals.
“So the government should encourage these non-experts critics to come together with us where government personnel will be observers to discuss the issues.”
He urged the government to increase budgetary allocations to universities and research institutes to enable them undertake researches that meet national aspirations “as we have seen in this case PBR Cowpea’’.
“The achievement of the GM beans 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 cow pea and we can state as experts that there is nothing to worry about.”
He said that it was high time, government committed quality resources to research and development.
Mr Akinsoji Akinsola, the National Coordinator, Real Life Global Humanitarian Foundation said that as responsible civil society group, it was in support of any meaningful technology that would lessen the burden of stress farmers go through.
Akinsola, the coordinator of over 76 NGOs said that the only way to make farming profitable in the country was to introduce technologies and praised the scientists at Institute for Agricultural Research, ABU Zaria for a job well done. (NNN)
Edited by Grace Yussuf