Prize-winning Nigerian environmentalist Nnimmo Bassey is urging African governments to take a stand against genetically altered seeds and accept that working with nature is “immeasurably better than working against her.”
In an article titled “Standing Against GMOs” (genetically modified organisms), Nnimmo notes that genetic engineering “has strived to upturn nature and box her for profit” although nature continues to find a way to “trump the manipulators.”
Among the “manipulators,” Bassey cites the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has proposed building a bio-technology laboratory in Nigeria. “The idea is to prime the country to produce these genetically engineered seeds not just for Nigeria but for the whole of Africa. ”
Bassey was commenting on an editorial in the Financial Times that confirms what many ecologists have asserted: that GMO farming is unwise, unprofitable in the long run and a threat to the species in times of global warming.
The article was titled “Seeds of Doubt” – “Europe is Right to be Cautious over GM Crops.”
“There is no reason to allow genetically engineered crops into farms that have not been already contaminated,” insists Bassey. “African countries must not allow themselves to be stampeded to toe paths that lead to questionable destinations. Genetically engineered crops are not as climate smart as native crops that have adapted to these conditions over the years.”
Finally, Bassey attacks seed company claims that GE crops are a solution to Africa’s nutritional deficits. “The enrichment of crops with higher levels of vitamins has been done through plant breeding processes of biofortification that is not genetic engineering.”
“Europe is right in rejecting GMOs. Africa cannot afford to repeat the mistakes made by those who already walked into the GMO cul-de-sac. We must not be in the business of turning our environment and peoples to laboratories and guinea pigs.”
Bassey is the author of To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa; winner of the Right Livelihood Award, a Time magazine Hero of the Environment and founder of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation.