The Coordinator of Nigeria Agribusiness Group, Mr Emmanuel Ijewere has stressed that embracing Genetically Modified (GM) foods would increase sufficiency, security and rescue the rural poor from the pangs of hunger.
He said that in spite of criticisms that trails the introduction of GM crops in Nigeria’s foods and farming system, GMOs were not new crops invented by scientists, explaining that GMOs were the same conventional crops that were improved on to tackle persistent issues of food shortages and insect infestation on crops.
He said that the foods would not only be produced in more quantity, but could also have a longer shelf life with less labour and natural materials (water, soil, and energy) to produce.
“As far as I am concern, a hungry person does not worry too much about the quality of food as long as food is available, he has a choice. My take on Genetically Modified foods is that if countries like United States are eating it and have not banned it, it must be reasonably good for us too.
“No doubt that non-GMO foods are more nutritious, but without the GMO, we cannot feed many people. When we say we want to go solely into organic foods, then it means that many Nigerians will not have food to eat or a percentage of Nigerians will have food to eat.
“The other percentage will not have food to eat, that is basically the situation we will find ourselves,” he said.
Ijewere said that it was premature to start talking about banning of GMO foods in Nigeria when the problem of food insufficiently had not been addressed.
“The most important thing is to consider the economic and political reasons rather than the health or medical reasons behind GMO foods. There have been no traces of any disease caused by the consumption of GMO diets, to justify the claims. Most of the foods that Nigerians eat abroad are GMO foods and there had not been complaints. So, why do we want to draw the line?
“For us in Nigeria, what we need to do is, let us leave the rest of the world who have done the research and findings. I do not think the Europeans, the Americans or the Asians will deliberately want to poison their own people. We get so sentimental in Nigeria that we are beginning to lose the logic behind GMO foods.
“Look at our tomatoes today, they are not GMO, they are organic and the quantity of production is not enough. Because they are organic, the quantities of our tomatoes are not enough to produce enough tomatoes paste and most times, we have to rely on the GMO or hard tomatoes.
“I think for now, it is premature to start talking about banning of GMOs when we do not have enough food in the country,’’ he said.