Dyepkazah Shibayan, Abuja
The House of Representatives, Thursday, mandated its committees on Healthcare Services and Agricultural Production and Services to summon the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, to explain the issuance of permit to Monsanto Agriculture Nigeria Limited for the release, and placing in the Nigerian market, of genetically modified food products despite the America Cancer Society listing glyphosate among herbicides linked to cancer.
The House also ordered the Director General of NAFDAC to present to it a list of food supplements and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) that have been granted NAFDAC’s approval.
The resolutions by the House was sequel to a motion sponsored by Hon. Austin Chukwukere, who said “these GMOs and food supplements have diet concerns and doubts that have been expressed regarding its safety”.
“The results of most studies with GMOs and food supplements indicate that they may cause some common toxic effects such as hepatic, pancreatic, renal or reproductive effects and may alter the hematological, biochemical and immunologic parameters.
“These worries have become very important nationally and globally because these supplements are said to be over the counter drugs and of course do not pass through medical/professional prescription”, he said.
Chukwukere expressed concern about recent reports that the National Biosafety Management Agency issued two permits for the commercial release and placing in the Nigerian market of Genetically Modified cottons to Monsanto Agriculture Nigeria Limited.
“These permits came despite concerted efforts of many Nigerians, including faith based organizations, civil society groups, students and local farmers to prevent the introduction of Genetically Modified products and food items”, he added.
Also contributing to the debate, Hon Raphael Igbokwe said despite the agreements Nigeria has signed, the best clinical standards should be met so that the technology would not attract harm to Nigerians who consume the items.
On his part, Hon Ahmed Baba Kaita said the health hazards attached to the products are enormous adding that based on a research in the United States, it was discovered that GMOs are responsible for abnormal growth in the body called “glumia”.
The House which adopted the motion after it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, resolved to conduct a public hearing on GMOs with biotechnology stakeholders with the view of protecting our environment and the lives of Nigerians.
The Committees are to report back to the House in 12 weeks for further legislative inputs.