On May 24th 2016, Nigerians woke up to the news that Tuta absoluta a moth, has ravaged fields of our natural tomatoes leading to a scarcity of the product. Addressing a press conference on Tuesday 24th May, 2016 in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Audu Ogbeh, assured Nigerians that government was working with a team of experts from the United Kingdom who will deliver specialized insecticides for the control of the disease. According to him, the disease has affected six tomato producing states, including Plateau, Jigawa, Kano and Katsina.
In November, 2014, the World Bank Group, United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and Nigeria’s Dangote Farms, commenced a hybrid tomatoes production in a project at Kano aimed at maximizing the local content supply for tomato processors in the country, beginning with Dansa Holdings. A genuine hybrid vegetable is created when plant breeders intentionally cross-pollinate two different varieties of a plant, with the aim of producing an offspring, or hybrid, that contains the best traits of each of the parents. Cross-pollination is a natural process that occurs within members of the same plant species. Genetically modified organisms plants on the other hand, are the result of genetic engineering. This is a process during which the plant’s DNA is altered in a way that cannot occur naturally, and sometimes includes the insertion of genes from other species.
The first engineered true food approved by Food and Drug administration (FDA) for the United States consumer market was the Monsanto (originally Calgene) Flavr Savr ® Tomato, introduced in early 1990s. The tomato, created by inserting a gene from pig into the tomatoes genome, had an extended shelf life that meant it wouldn’t rot in transit from the farms to the retail stores. The Flavr Savr tomato was an economic disaster when consumers learned that the gene responsible for the Flavr Savr’s resilience came from a pig [Biotech Industry: A Global, Economic, and Financing Overview by Bryan Bergeron, Paul Chan, publisher John Wiley and Sons, 2004, page 22].
It may seem that, the detractors of Nigeria unleashed the Tuta absoluta induced tomatoes scarcity to create an opportunity to introduce the GMO tomatoes into Nigeria, as a biotechnological solution. There are not only health and environmental concerns, but serious religious restrictions that arises with any attempt to introduce this form of tomatoes with ‘pig genes’ into Nigeria.
Christian and Islamic Restrictions on Eating GMO Tomatoes with Pig Genes
The prohibition of pork in Islam is derived from the following verse of the Glorious Qur’an, [Al-Qur’an 5:3]:
“Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah.”
The Holy Bible prohibits the consumption of pork, in the book of [Leviticus 11:7-8]:
“And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you”.
“Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch, they are unclean to you.”
Pork is also prohibited in the Holy Bible in the book of [Deuteronomy 14:8]:
“And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you. Ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass.”
A similar prohibition is repeated in the Bible in the book of [Isaiah 65: 2-5].
The Global Prolife Alliance (GPA), Friends of the Earth, Home of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and other stakeholders including over 100 organizations of farmers, scientists, environmentalists representing over 14 million people have condemned the issuance of permits to Monsanto, a St Louis Missouri, USA based company, for marketing commercial GMO Bt Cotton and field trials of Maize in Nigeria, by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA).
However, the facts are that, illegally sold GMO maize, biofortified provitamin cassava, yellow yam and sweat potatoes are obtainable in Nigeria from official sources like the National Root Crops Research Institute Umudike (NRCRI) and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). State government agencies have been illegally distributing so-called biofortified GMO yellow cassava. The so-called yellow cassava distributed in Nigeria, which claims protein and vitamin A, have been demonstrated to be a hoax in the scientific literature by their authors who have apologized for forging their scientific results on biofortification. At the website of the United States based scientific journal PLOS One, where it was originally published, the statement reads that “the authors of the paper suggesting that cassava, a starchy vegetable that’s a major food source in much of the developing world, could one day be turned into a food staple ‘capable of supplying inexpensive, plant-based proteins for food, feed and industrial applications” have retracted it, following an institutional investigation that failed to find critical supporting data. The lies propagated by Bill Gates Foundation and Monsanto and their paid pundits in Nigeria have been exposed by stakeholders in Nigeria and around the World. However, history tells us that there is no shortage of their creativeness in mischief.
Monsanto created so many toxic chemicals, that include:
(1) Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs).
PCBs’ environmental toxicity and classification as a persistent organic pollutant, PCB production was banned by the United States Congress in 1979 and by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001.
(2) Agent Orange is one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program in Vietnam 1961-1971, The government of Vietnam says that 4 million of its citizens were exposed to Agent Orange, and as many as 3 million have suffered illnesses because of it; these figures include the children of people who were exposed. The Red Cross of Vietnam estimates that up to 1 million people are disabled or have health problems due to contaminated Agent Orange.
(3) DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane):
DDT is known for its insecticidal properties and environmental impacts. A worldwide ban on agricultural use was formalized under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
(4) Roundup (Glyphosate):
In March 2015, the World Health Organization‘s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans” (category 2A) based on epidemiological studies, animal studies, and in vitro studies.
(5) Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH):
The brand name is Posilac, produced by Monsanto but now sold by Eli Lilly. It is a synthetic (man-made) hormone that is marketed to dairy farmers to increase milk production in cows by 10%, while increasing incidence of mastitis, lameness and reproductive complications. Its use is not permitted in the European Union, Canada, and some other countries because of health concerns related to antibiotic resistance.
(6) Terminator seeds.
Monsanto filed a lawsuit claiming that a farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman infringed on their patents by replanting soybeans seeds for his second harvest, without a license. In the Bowman v. Monsanto Co., 569 U.S. (2013) United States Supreme Court patent decision, the Court unanimously affirmed the decision of the Federal Circuit that the patent exhaustion doctrine does not permit a farmer to plant and grow saved, patented seeds without the patent owner’s permission. This also means that Nigerian farmers cannot replant the saved GMO seeds!
Nigerians are being entrapped into the lion’s den by evil men and women, who have instigated laws that allow GMOs crops to be sold in Nigeria. The time has come when we must listen to the wisdom of the Sacred Scriptures in the Holy Bible and Holy Koran, and to our religious leaders. Who will tell us that, our tomatoes, cassava, yam, soyabean, millet, maize contain ‘pig genes’? We must Ban GMO crops in Nigeria now because it can never solve the ‘hunger problem’ but only complicate it. We should emulate the countries of the European Union, Russia, China and others who have wisely looked at the scientific evidence and banned GMO crops.
Academician Prof. Dr Philip Njemanze, Chairman, Global Prolife Alliance (GPA).