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June 21, 2024

‘GM Crops Not a Threat to National Security’, NABDA, BSN Write Senate

The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) and the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN) have written to the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, listing the economic benefits of Genetically Modified (GM) crops, in response to a recent letter sent to the Senate by the Global Prolife Alliance titled; National Security Threat: Biotech Terrorism Using GMO Seeds.

Meanwhile, the Director General of NABDA Professor Abdullahi Mustapha in a letter written to the Senate said genetically modified crops are not a national security threat or form of biotech terrorism.

He said the crops have been rigorously tested and regulated before commercial release to ensure safety for human health and the environment.

“Transgenic Cowpea and TELA maize were developed by Nigerian scientists to benefit our nation’s smallholder farmers. The transgenic cowpea is resistant to destructive pod borers, which typically destroy 80% of cowpea crops. This can help farmers boost their yields significantly”, Professor Mustapha said.

“TELA maize is drought tolerant and resistant to fall army warm to enable farmers to optimize yield and profits. Withdrawing these crops would deprive farmers of tools to improve their livelihoods and food security.

“The letter’s incendiary language linking GMOs with terrorism is highly concerning. It spreads misinformation and fear without scientific basis. Biotechnology improves crops through very precise changes at the molecular level to introduce beneficial traits.

“There is international scientific consensus on GM crop safety, upheld by regulatory agencies globally, including World Health Organization, FAO, and many others.

“Nigeria’s genetically modified products have also passed biosafety assessments before approval for commercial planting”, the letter reads.

Furthermore, the letter said transgenic crops have been engineered to express traits that confer resistance to pests, diseases, and environmental stress.

The letter explained that incorporation of these traits in Cowpea and TELA Maize has the potential to significantly increase yield, ensuring a more abundant and stable food supply for our growing population.

On its part, the BSN in a letter to the Senate President signed by its President, Prof. Sylvia Uzochukwu, said as plant and food biotechnology promoters and experts, they urge the Senate not to heed the scientifically unfounded advice.

BSN said transgenic crops can lead to increased farm incomes due to higher yields and reduced production costs.

“This, in turn, contributes to poverty alleviation and economic growth, benefiting both smallholder farmers, the broader agricultural sector and the general community.

“There is no terminator gene in these or any other GM crop in the international food supply, and they do not produce sterile seeds. Contrary to the claim that transgenic crops pose a national security threat, it is essential to note that rigorous scientific evaluations and regulatory processes govern the commercial release of genetically modified organisms.

“The safety of these crops is thoroughly assessed, ensuring they meet the highest standards before reaching the market.

“We urge the Senate to consider the overwhelming international scientific consensus on the safety and benefits of transgenic crops and to continue supporting policies that promote agricultural innovation.

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