For a Safer Earth, Healthier Climate

WFD: HOMEF Calls for Removal of GMOs To Preserve Nigeria’s Food Culture

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

In marking World Food Day, the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) states that marking World Food Day should encourage people, organizations, and governments to unravel the root of hunger and malnutrition, address food injustice, and abuse of farmers’ rights. The day is a reminder of the avoidable fate of millions worldwide who suffer from hunger despite abundant natural and human resources.

The World Food Day is an essential international observance held every year on October 16th. It is dedicated to raising awareness about food security and hunger while promoting action to ensure everyone has access to safe, nutritious, and affordable food.

HOMEF stated that one big challenge today is protecting our food, including water, from the new wave of colonialism that is systematically taking hold of food systems across the globe as transnational corporations leverage the current food crises to advance an atrocious agenda to gain control over the world’s food systems.

The Executive Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, noted that modern

agricultural biotechnology directly undermines our pursuit of food

sovereignty, posing a threat to our dignity and our fundamental right to

refuse foods laden with uncertain health consequences and an agriculture system that stresses our ecosystems.

 He called for the removal of genetically modified foods from our shelves. “GMOs are being pushed into our food system without stringent government regulations. People do not know the implications of growing or eating GM foods because the population is not given information on the risks related to the technology.

In Nigeria, approvals for importing GMOs are granted without adequate public notice and proper and independent health and environmental impact assessments. It is improper for our farmers to be given seeds to grow without telling them what they are planting or what eventually will end up on the consumer’s plate.”

Bassey further charged Nigerians to be intentional about what is on their plates. “We must not fail as individuals to ensure that what goes into our stomachs is safe. We must demand accountability from regulatory agencies to ensure that food products approved for import are wholesome, meet the dietary requirements of the people, and support the local economy.”

HOMEF’s Director of Programme Joyce Brown, echoed that agroecology can feed the world, cool the planet, and help local farmers adapt to climate change impacts. “Governments worldwide who want to address food insecurity and take meaningful climate action must invest in agroecology – the foundation for a positive transformation of food systems. 

Agroecology ensures optimum water and other resources use, revives soils and the ability to hold in carbon, uses renewable energy, and promotes shorter food supply chains while making healthy and nutritionally diverse food available to all”.

Deputy Director of Environmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje, noted that”Food is a central and integral part of any society, and it creates a connection between our beliefs, ethnicity, and cultural heritage. Food is not just a part of culture; it defines culture.  What we eat and how we eat provides much information about specific cultures. Food, water, and soil are all interconnected and are not commodities. They are a sacred, life-affirming, and central composite of every existing society”.

Orovwuje stressed that our food and producers must be treated with respect and dignity. She called for policies that celebrate the smallholder farmers who produce over 70 per cent of the food consumed globally.

“We need deep-rooted changes in how agriculture is practised and how the food system is organised and regulated. We need to wean our food system from corporate control and concentration and keep seeds in the hands of small-scale farmers.”

HOMEF recommends that as we celebrate World Food Day, we must squarely face and find ways to resolve the underlying structural and systemic issues behind hunger and malnutrition – poverty, food waste, conflicts, inequality, imperialist plunder, and poor public policies. We must champion an agriculture system that minimizes environmental impact, ensures food security for present and future generations, reduces food waste, and promotes responsible consumption.

HOMEF also called on the government of Nigeria to increase support for farmers by protecting their rights to seeds providing extension service and security in crisis-prone areas of the country.

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