GMOs: Fire on the mountain!

At the instance of the Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC), a Technical Committee comprising top academics, scientists, scholars and professionals from our two major religious divides was inaugurated recently in Abuja to examine the issue of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The Committee met between July 31 and August 3, 2016 and came up with insights on the various dimensions of the controversial GMOs.

The August 29, 2016 editorial of “Premium Times”, entitled “The Growing Menace of the Monsanto-induced Pro-GMO Lobby in Nigeria” put the issues at stake in perspective. The editorial further portrayed the frantic moves of the GMO advocates and lobbyists to buy our minds.

Defined as “organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination,” the concept of GMOs still sounds like Greek to many Nigerians. I have read much about it lately and I feel compelled to share part of the open letter of Dr Phillip C. Njemanze, Chairman of Global Prolife Alliance (GPA), dated September 2, 2016, to President Muhammadu Buhari:

“The Global Prolife Alliance (GPA) and other stakeholders in the health sector wish to bring to your attention that the entire Health Sector in Nigeria is about to be acquired by Boston Consulting Group and Bill Gates. There is a covert plan to take over Mission Hospitals owned by Christian Churches in Nigeria. There are indications that a similar covert plan to take over the Islamic Hospitals is in place. The Federal Ministry of Health under the past administration appointed Bill Gates to head the Committee for implementation of the National Health Act (NHA) 2014 along with 18 other ‘foreign’ organizations and embassies in Nigeria. This is illegal under the 1999 Nigerian Constitution! A non-publicly disclosed quasi-privatization under the past administration could handover the Federal Government health institutions to the foreign conglomerate. The Boston Consulting Group is in working partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation … to actualize this plan. The aim of these acquisitions is to own the entire network of hospitals in Nigeria.

“We have argued that the evidence points to human organ and ovarian egg poaching for human organ transplantation and stem cell research for human tissue cloning. Nigeria would become the largest supplier of ‘legally’ acquired (without consent under NHA 2014) human organs for transplantation to all patients living in industrialized Western Countries! Nigeria will be the source for more than 100 million human ovarian eggs poached from 10 million Nigerian women, who would die in 2-3 years or later from complications of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (liver failure, kidney failure, cancers, infections, etc.) Our women of child-bearing age will die in millions and our population decimated! This program is supported by leading Western countries, UN agencies, multilateral organizations and donor agencies owned by some Western countries. This is because it would be a cheap source of human organs for transplantation for the Western countries. The gains of using ovarian eggs poached from Nigerian women to perfect the complicated tissue cloning procedure called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) promises economic revenue of thirty trillion USD, one third of World economy….”

What is the way out of this dire situation? Dr Njemanze strongly recommends a three-point solution to the Federal Government. According to him, “Repeal Sections of the National Health Act 2014 that permit organ poaching without consent”, with specific reference to sections 48, 51.

Secondly, Nigeria must stop all acquisition of already existing public and mission hospitals by multinationals. This is because, as he argues, “health sector is national security and hence must be under anti-monopoly protection and must be open to healthy competitions”.

Lastly, the President is urged to ban the sale, distribution, import and export of Genetically Modified Crops in Nigeria. In other words, “All genetically modified crops of food staples must be banned since the GM crops do not improve crop yield, are toxic to human health and cannot solve the problems in the agric value chain. The data about touted health benefits of biofortified cassava and others was found to be scientific junk falsified data by a Committee of the Dan Forth Institute where it was published. The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) must be reorganized and properly staffed by knowledgeable and patriotic Nigerians. It must be well funded to police GM crops and destroy them similar to fake drugs. It must have the task of protecting our Food Security and must be an agency under the purview of the National Security Adviser and Presidency. Today’s threats are more biotechnological than physical military combat!”

I share the belief that this is the way to go.