The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has alleged that the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) and other Promoters of genetically modified crops are deceiving farmers to plant Bt Cowpea without adequate sensitization.
Executive Director for HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey made this allegation during a press conference organized by the foundation in Abuja, where he claimed that BT beans would impoverish Nigerian farmers, erode biodiversity and pollute neighboring countries.
GM is a technology that involves inserting DNA into the genome of an organism. To produce a GM plant, new DNA is transferred into plant cells. Usually, the cells are then grown in tissue culture where they develop into plants. The seeds produced by these plants will inherit the new DNA.
On rare occasions, the process of DNA transfer can happen without deliberate human intervention. For example the sweet potato contains DNA sequences that were transferred thousands of years ago, from Agrobacterium bacteria into the sweet potato genome.
Bassey faulted NABDA that the agency could not explain to farmers that they were being given genetically modified bean seeds, but merely told them that they were being given improved varieties that would boost their yield, and since most farmers were interested in having bumper harvest, they embraced the crop.
On the other hand, NBMA through its Director-General, Dr Rufus Ebegba has debunked the claim that the crop is hazardous, claiming that the cowpea has scaled through several rigorous risk analyses and safety tests before approval for public consumption by the Federal Government.
The director-general, explained that the crop was genetically-modified to resist insect attacks and pest infestation with no harmful traits to human being, adding that the crop was approved to boost food production and eliminate the use of harmful chemicals by farmers to protect their crops.