The need for public consultation and participation in the approval processes of applications that directly affect the people’s health and well-being cannot be over stressed. Many issues surround the matter of our food and agricultural modern biotechnology that require clarifications and in-depth interrogations. These include legal frameworks that can impeded the achievement of the right to safe and nutritious food.
Should science not be to the advantage of society? Does science always serve the public interest? These were among the questions posed at the media training on Biosafety organised by HOMEF in Abuja recently. The answers to these questions may be obvious, but the training session went ahead to address the contentious question on whether science was being used in the public’s interest in matters of food safety in Nigeria.
For two days, HOMEF and allies engaged the media and with lawyers in Abuja, Nigeria, on issues of biosafety and genetic engineering. Many questions were raised and strategies to push for safe and wholesome foods were drawn up. We share here the welcome words by the Director of HOMEF. He argued that this matter has intergenerational implications and that lapses have consequences for Nigerians yet unborn. He noted that laws are not cast in concrete and that the right to safe and nutritious food is a universal right. Genetic engineering in agriculture challenges that right by the creation of novel organisms, dependence on toxic chemicals and abridgement of the rights of farmers to preserve and share seeds and to stay free from contamination.
Monsanto Tribunal has released its findings. They show starkly that Monsanto’s activities undermine basic human rights and that victims of multinational corporations need better protective regulations. The Tribunal also holds that international courts should recognize ecocide as a crime. Read the full press release from Seed Freedom.
The shocking news that all previous claims by Shell that they did nothing wrong with the highly contentious OPL 245 oil bloc deals were false hit Nigerians yesterday. Global Witness noted that in a statement to the New York Times, Shell’s Vice President for Global Media Relations, agreed that, “Over time, it became clear to us that Etete was involved in Malabu and that the only way to resolve the impasse through a negotiated settlement was to engage with Etete and Malabu, whether we liked it or not”. He added Shell knew that the Nigerian government “would compensate Malabu to settle its claim on the block”.
The task of ensuring that science responds to popular needs of society should be the major challenge that scientists have to overcome. While that task is met regularly, the issue of presenting science in a way that citizens can easily grasp can be daunting. Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), the ecological think tank, hosted media practitioners in Benin City recently at a training focusing on Biosafety and agricultural modern biotechnology in particular.
Mass #Breakfree Actions in Ogoni, Nigeria. On the 30th of March 2017, hundreds of climate activists as well as concerned and affected Nigerians joined ongoing actions around the world aimed at pressing home the need to address our dependence on fossil fuels which poisons our planet and threatens to eliminate all of us.
Communities are best placed to monitor their forests because they live in the forests, depend on forest resources and readily notice threat and changes that occur in such forests. Citizens' monitoring of forests is imperative if our last remaining forests are to be protected from being destroyed through illegal logging or under the banner of infrastructure politics.
The committee was at pains explaining to the two agencies that, in carrying out their work, they must understand that the critical baseline is the interest of Nigerians and our environment and not that of any commercial or political interest- no matter how powerful. The two agencies could not convince the expert committee that they had enough tools to adequately carry out their tasks. Among other things, the committee also saw that NABDA was functioning more as a GMO advocacy agency rather than engaging in useful research, while the Biosafety Management Act itself requires urgent radical review.
The Nigerian Bar Association in Edo State and HOMEF held a stakeholders meeting on the National Biosafety Management Act (2015) in Benin City. At the end of deliberations, they raised critical issues and concerns with regard to GMOs and the Biosafety Management Act. They also brainstormed on the increased aggressive push of the biotechnology companies in partnership with their local collaborators in Nigeria to ensure favourable legislations as a step towards unleashing their products and commodities on Nigerian. They cited several fault-lines in the permissive NBMA Act requiring that the entire Act be urgently reviewed and the GMO permits issued withdrawn.