Top print, audiovisual and online journalists were on Monday hosted to a training for media practitioners organized by the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF)
The training which was targeted at empowering the media with information and better understanding of Genetic Engineering and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and their implications for sustainable agriculture, held in Abuja.
The event featured scientists, environmentalists, biosafety and policy experts in the field, who shared their experiences and trained journalists on Genetic Engineering and Genetically Modified Organisms along with their implications for sustainable agriculture.
HOMEF had in a statement signed by its Project officer, Joyce Ebebeinwe said “It would be remembered that Nigeria’s Biosafety Management Act was signed into law in May 2015 in the twilight days of former President Goodluck Jonathan. In less than a year after, permits were issued for Genetically Modified (GM) crops to be planted or field tested in the country. While this is going on, public participation and citizens’ awareness remains at a very low level.”
In his welcome remarks, the Executive Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey noted that a knowledgeable media will make a huge difference and boost Nigerians’ duty to protect its biodiversity, agriculture and food systems. He stated that part of the objectives for the training is to enhance media capacity to appreciate and engage on Biosafety Regulations, Genetic Engineering and GMO issues.
The speakers at the event included Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, a Public Policy Expert and the Convener of Nigerians against GMO, who spoke on understanding GMOs, the history, policy, propaganda and drivers in Nigeria; Dr Ify Aniebo who is a molecular geneticist from Oxford University, shed more light on the science, controversy and potential risks of GMOs.
Also speaking at the event, Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje who is a lawyer as well as an environmental, human and food rights advocate, dissected the Nigerian Biosafety Management Act 2015, pointing out major fundamental flaws and defects. Oruvwuje is also Program Manager in the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria and the Coordinator of Friends of the Earth Africa’s Food Sovereignty Program (FSP) and Friends of the Earth international (FoEI) Steering FSP.
Jackie Ikeotuonye-Offiah, a botanist, Managing Partner, Andrew Bishopton Consulting and Country Representative, Bio-integrity and Natural Food Awareness Initiative examined the myths, concerns and alternatives to GMOs.
Executive Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey in his briefing at the event placed key demands on the Federal Government of Nigeria; the protection of Nigerias food and environment, the revocation of permits issued to Monsanto and the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), to introduce GMOs into Nigeria; and the review or repeal of the National Biosafety Management Agency Act 2015.
HOMEF will host a similar roundtable session on promoting biosafety in Nigeria, for select legal practitioners on Tuesday 25th April, 2017.
HOMEF is an environmental/ecological think tank and advocacy organization rooted in solidarity and in the building and protection of human and collective dignity. It is based in Nigeria, but has Africa as its focus.