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GMO foods released into Nigeria against court order, NGO alleges

The Food Sovereignty Programme for Friends of the Earth Africa has alleged that Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) based cotton have been imported into the Nigerian market in spite of an existing court order against it.

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In a statement by the coordinator, Maryann Bassey-Orovwuje, “the commercialisation of Bt Cotton in the country is not a victory but a breach of law and order.”

“It is also a pointed disregard of the best interest of the Nigerian people and their right to be consulted and respected. This adds a new dimension to the suspicion that disregard for judicial processes is taking a worrisome turn in current situation of things in Nigeria as if we have surrendered our sovereignty to corporate interests” the statement noted.

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It said both agencies, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) and National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), who approved the commercialization are defendants in the pending suit filed by the Registered Trustees of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and sixteen other Civil Society Organisations in the Federal High Court of Justice of Nigeria in the Abuja Judicial Division, September 13th 2017, suit No FHC/ABJ/C5/846/2017.

It said while the court is yet to deliver her judgement on the case, the defendants, NBMA, NABDA and Monsanto in defiance to the ongoing court process has gone ahead on Thursday, July 26, 2018 to register and release some Genetically Modified (GM) products and the Bt cotton – one of the subjects of litigation, into the Nigerian environment.

The newly released and registered products amongst others include two transgenic hybrid cotton: MRC 7377 BG11 and MRC 7361 BG1.

It said the Plaintiffs – HOMEF and sixteen others, sought amongst other reliefs, a declaration that NBMA, the 1st Defendant in this case did not comply with the provisions of the National Biosafety Management Agency Act in granting the permits to the 3rdDefendant, Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited and NABDA the 4th Defendant in this case; for the purpose of commercial release of Bt Cotton (Mon 15985) and confined field trial with (1) NK603 and (2) MON89034 x NK603 maize in Nigeria.

The plaintiffs also sought an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd defendant and 4th defendant by themselves, their agents, servants, workmen or otherwise or whatsoever from carrying out any activity or further activities pursuant to the permits granted by the 1st defendant.

The plaintiffs considered the permits granted by NBMA to Monsanto and NABDA in breach of and a threat to the Fundamental Human Rights of the plaintiffs as well as the general public as stipulated in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended in 2011.

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