Thursday, May 21, 2009

GM-free Europe: Lessons for Nigeria

THE 5th Conference of European nations on achieving G.M-free Europe in particular and the world in general was held at the lakeside Culture and Conference Centre in Lucerne, Switzerland. It was attended by 250 delegates from 28 countries in Europe and outside Europe. What was discussed was global - the effects of the application of genetic engineering and biotechnology to agriculture and allied matters and how to achieve "global food democracy".

"Global food democracy" means the upholding, protection and preservation globally, of the rights and freedom of all the nations of the world to practise the agricultural methods that do not involve tampering with the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), individual genes, the expressions mechanism, and the expressions of the genes of organisms, and the right and freedom of the nations of the world to consume natural and organic foods. These rights and freedoms are consistent with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and Freedoms and the American Declaration on Human Rights and Freedoms, sovereign and inalienable rights and freedoms.

The necessity of the conference is understood and appreciated on the basis of the fact that the corporations that produce genetically modified foods (G.M. Foods), genetically engineered (synthetic) agricultural chemicals and fertilisers, and biopharmaceuticals, the government of the USA, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and some other international organisations, are pushing and imposing the adoption, by sovereign, independent and free governments and nations of the world, genetic engineering and biotechnology as their methods for the production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), herbicides, pesticides, fertilisers, and genetically modified foods (GMFs).

The push, enforcement and imposition are being carried out despite the existence of the Universal Declarations on Human and Cultural Rights and Freedom, the Precautionary Principles (2000) in respect of the application of biotechnology and genetic engineering to agriculture, and the Nuremburg Rule of Procedure (1945) on universal safety and quality investigation and control.

The practice of genetic engineering and biotechnology as biosciences, involves tampering with the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of organisms, the mechanism by which the genes which constitute the DNAs express their proteins, and the proteins expressed by them. It is an indiscriminate, blind and unscientific transfer of DNAs and genes between completely different and distinctive organisms, using viruses as vectors (facilitators) although it is known that viruses carry and transmit known and unknown toxins and cause many diseases - known and unknown, curable and incurable. The practices are unscientific because, fundamentally, they are based on belief, hope, and wish. They are driven by commercialism and profit maximisation, war-politics, and the determination and desperation to have absolute ownership and control of biodiversities and their uses. The solid and liquid foods that are produced through the methods are called genetically modified foods (G.M. foods). The "modified" used is a deceptive and wrong use of language as the real effects of the tampering with the DNAs and genes is the poisoning of the organisms and, logically, the poisoning of G.M. Foods.

Kidney, lung, liver and immune system failures, cancers, cardiovascular diseases (heart failures, sudden death, EMFs, etc), teratogenic diseases - affecting children in the womb - epigenetic diseases (metagenetic diseases) caused by mechanisms that are outside the established and known Mendel's genetics, and pleiotropic diseases - the diseases the causes of which are not yet known and no medicines or medical treatments for which are available - have all been established as effects of the application of the biosciences.

At the end of the conference, the 250 participants declared unanimously as follows:

The participants of the 5th European Conference of GMO-Free Regions "Food and Democracy" call for an EU-wide moratorium on the authorization and the commercial planting of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In the wake of six EU member states banning the planting of MON810 and in light of the rapid increase in GMO-free regions in Europe, there has never been a better moment for a moratorium than now.

This moratorium should be used to:

rethink EU legislation and strengthen regional self-determination;

redefine risk assessment according to the precautionary principle while considering socio-economic impacts; and

support GMO-free, diverse agriculture and ensure food sovereignty.
We call upon agro-chemical companies to no longer abuse the problem of world hunger in order to justify the introduction of GMOs. Practical experience belies this misleading propaganda, which we consider to be false and unethical.

The participants of the 5th European Conference of GMO-Free Regions conclude in the closing session of "Food and Democracy" that:

GMO-free agriculture and food are in accordance with the will of the majority of citizens in Europe; and

sustainable food production which eschews the use of genetic engineering is the best strategy for farmers and consumers, both today and tomorrow.
We are grateful to the citizens of Switzerland, who point the way for all of Europe with their democratic decision to instate a moratorium on the cultivation of GMOs.

Certainly this declaration has a lot of lessons for our federal and state governments, the federal and state legislators and, indeed, all Nigerians. At the moment, there are bills on biotechnology and genetic engineering applications to agriculture at the Senate and the House of Representatives which the USAID has been stampeding them to pass into law. The lessons of the declarations should be learnt by the president and legislators especially. Because what is at stake is human life, covering the lives of all Nigerians - unborn children and all future Nigerians - and because whatever affects human health and life affects our national development logically and unavoidably, let the Motto of St. Theresa's Catholic Primary School, Marine Beach, Apapa, Lagos, the primary school where the author of this piece studied, which says: "Honour and shame. From no condition arise. Act well your part, There the honour lies," be the motivation and justification of whatever action the president and the federal legislators decide to take, and how they act on the matter.