Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The re-enslavement of Nigeria by the G8 and Monsanto Why you should be worried | African Health

Minister of Agriculture Nigeria: -
I read this and was shocked at the level of total misrepresentation. There is nothing correct in all this write up. I normally don't respond to these kind of things, but feel Gbadebo should be educated on facts. First, Nigeria does not have GMOs. Second, all the seeds used by farmers in Nigeria are from conventional breeding, and we allow farmers to reuse their own seeds. Third, we support biodiversity and promote both in-situ and ex-situ gene banks for ensuring local biodiversity is conserved. Fourth, we promote sensible and responsible use of modern technologies to address complex problems of diseases and pest, climate change and malnutrition.

The author unfortunately confuses biotechnology with GMOs, which is done to deliberately misinform the population. He does not understand science. Noise is not fact nor science. Through conventional breeding and biotechnology we have safe nutrient enriched crops such as pro-vitamin A cassava, orange-flesh sweet potato, drought resistant maize, flood resistant rice and bananas resistant to virulent black sigatoka disease that can wipe out all of Nigeria's and Africa's bananas, and cassava varieties resistant to cassava bacterial blight that can wipe out Africa's largest source of food. Does he expect us to fold our hands and do nothing and watch poor farmers go into such devastation?

All the seed companies in Nigeria use conventional breeding. Nigeria is putting in place bio safety laws to regulate use of modern biotechnology. Consumer and environmental safety are priority for us. But we must develop and we must use new technologies. Responsible use of technologies, while managing and preserving biodiversity and the environment and consumer safety is the role of government.

As Minister of Agriculture for Nigeria, I assure you that this is being done. But we must not become misinformed by those that want Africa to remain backward, with misguided anti-technology views.
To communicate, you can use mobile phone (despite associated risks with brain cancer) or tie strings to match boxes or use town criers as done in old times. The former is modern technology. I am sure the writer uses mobile phones, yet it has risks! Why not try communicating with match boxes with strings: after all, it is a safe technology! You can travel by plane or donkey. The former generates C02, but everyone uses it to travel. Why not try traveling to Europe by donkey?

We must be factual, sensible and responsible in our reporting. Nigeria is working hard to empower its millions of farmers with appropriate technologies to lift them out of poverty into wealth. Over 95% of all our agribusinesses are locally-owned companies. I believe in food sovereignty, that is why I am pushing daily for Nigeria to be free from dependence on food imports to feed ourselves. We will feed ourselves with dignity, lift millions of our people out of poverty. But scare mongering with deliberate misinformation as done by Gbadebo and similar anti-technology apologists is not the way to go. His assertions are totally misguided and misinformed.

Unless Africa uses modern technologies, our farmers' output will remain low and we will remain dependent on others to feed us. That is definitely not the way to have food sovereignty. That will only deepen dependency on others. We must feed ourselves with dignity and we must use appropriate modern technologies to do so, give choices to farmers, while preserving biodiversity, building environmental resilience, robust ecosystems and protecting health and well being of our people.
That is exactly what we are doing.

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina
Minister of Agriculture

Reference: Fmard

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