The founder of an NGO Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Nnimmo Bassey, explained in an interview to Sahara Reporters TV how Africa and Nigeria in particular are pushed to open up to Genetically Modified Foods (GMO), and casted some light on the activities of powerful organizations aimed at GMO promotion. Mr Bassey referred to scientific facts to support his argument.
Mr Bassey refuted the widespread assertions by the advocated of GMOs that genetically engineered crops produce more and have a higher yield than natural products. He revealed that several studies had been conducted on the subject, including one in which 400 scientists compared the yield rate of genetically engineered crops in the US with natural crops in Europe and found that the natural crops had a higher yield rate than the GMOs. He therefore claims that GMOs are designed to fight hunger in Africa by helping farmers produce more are false and ungrounded.
Mr Bassey also discredited the popular claim that GMOs utilize fewer chemicals. He explained that the same companies that produce the GMOs are the same companies that produce the chemicals and that these chemicals may have been particularly designed to suit the kind of seed they produce.
"Genetically engineered crops are not engineered to help anybody," he opined, "they are engineered to help the industry that produces the crops," Mr Bassey stated.
Organizations behind GMO popularization
He said the list of organizations behind the push to introduce GMOs to the Africa is a long one. Mr Bassey gave examples of Monsanto, Syngenta, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (ITA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Rockefeller Foundation and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations. He said,
"the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has at this moment announced that they are going to help Nigeria build a bio-technology laboratory, and the whole idea is to prime the country to produce these genetically engineered seeds not just for Nigeria but for the whole of Africa."
GMO linked with energy sector
Mr Bassey also said that promotion of GMO is linked with the energy sector since vast parcels of land would be required to grow GMOs some of which will also be used to produce biofuels, for example, ethanol.
The activist maintained that the future of global food security is in the hands of small-scale farmers but not large-scale industrial farming. Backing his assertion with the 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) reports, he called for a fundamental right to eat safe food.