Mar 9, 2009

ERA Flays Testing of ‘Super Cassava’

THISDAY - Apapa,Lagos,Nigeria
March 8, 2009

FCT. Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) and over 30 other civil society groups in Nigeria have condemned the alleged approval by the Federal Government for the Donald Danforth Plant Science Centre, United States, to conduct field-testing of a genetically modified cassava christened “Super Cassava” in Nigeria.

They described the alleged approval as trading away Nigeria's food future to modern colonialists hiding under the cover of agricultural biotechnology, and said the proposed test must be halted immediately.

ERA/FoEN’s position is premised on the recently reported approval of the National Biosafety Committee (NBC) for the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike to go ahead with plans to conduct “contained” field trials of genetically-modified cassava on the banks of the Qua Iboe River, Abia State.

Details of the approval was revealed at the annual meeting of the American Society for the Advancement of Science, held in Chicago, U.S.A on February 13, 2009, where it was announced that Nigeria’s NBC had given the Danforth Centre approval to carry out field trials for GM cassava in collaboration with NRCRI.

In its reaction to the development, ERA/FoEN warned that the back door approach of the biotech industry and its Nigerian allies to introduce GM crops in the country will not only endanger Nigerians but is also a “breach” of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety which Nigeria is signatory to, which seeks among others to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.

"Nigeria does not need any super cassava. The genetic modification of cassava to produce Vitamin A is fraught with many dangers to the health of Nigerians who depend on cassava as a staple. Some years back the biotech industry engineered the so-called golden rice to be rich in Vitamin A, but one would need to eat 9 kilograms of that rice to have as much Vitamin A as one would have from eating just two small carrots! The golden rice was a golden hoax and the super cassava will turn out to be super fraud”, said ERA/FoEN

Executive Director, Nnimmo Bassey in a statement issued in Lagos.

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