The issue of whether GMOs are harmful, and whether the organic foods route is the safer route is one issue that has not been completely solved. There seems to be an ongoing debate and no conclusive results from conducted research. While GMOs have been declared safe for cultivation in EU countries, many others still seem uncertain as to whether to approve their usage. As of March last year, only four African countries – Sudan, Burkina Faso, Egypt and South Africa – were confirmed to be growing GM food.
Last Saturday, during a working visit to the Agricultural and Veterinary Complex of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh was reported to have thrown a question to scientists “I am not a scientist, I am just a farmer. Is GMO safe, should we suspect it, should we embrace it, should we engage it, is there a ploy by those who engineer it to take over the seed business worldwide?”
GMOs – Genetically Modified Organisms– are those whose genetic materials have been altered using genetic engineering techniques. On the other hand, organic foods are termed such when their growth and processing are carried out using organic fertilizers (compost, green manure, bone meal) as well as practices like crop rotation.
Whereas organic foods are not more expensive, more prone to getting spoiled quickly, and more at risk of contaminations such as salmonella, GMO foods have longer shelf life and not as susceptible to contamination. Dr Rufus Egbegba, the director of the National Bio-safety Management Agency (NBMA) shed more light on this in an interview with NAN “Genetically GMOs are the same conventional crops but improved versions for the purpose of sustainability and improved yields.”
Only last year, 72 tonnes of Nigerian yams which were sent off from the Apapa port in exportation to the US were rejected upon arrival as they were all bad upon arrival. Perhaps if the yams were genetically modified, their shelf life might have been longer and survived the trip. #FoodForThought
The Federal Executive Council has however, approved a revised policy on the National Bio-Safety Management Agency. The agency is the regulatory body tasked with the responsibility of checking the type of genetically modified food that could come into the country. Popular GMO foods which are consumed in other countries include beetroots, canola, corn, milk, alfalfa, sugar beets and zucchini. Reports say GM apples may soon be added to the growing list of GMO foods.