Finally.. . for the first time, Nigeria approves the first genetically modified crop.
GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM.
A genetically modified organism is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. — Wikipedia
Should we howl, or should we wail? I think we should lament.
We once said that What You Eat Can Kill You., so you shoild always be very mindful of what you put in your mouth.
But, you can’t even tell if the chicken leg you gnaw at has had its gene altered, or the roasted corn you buy by the roadside has been genetically altered in a laboratory, but a geneticist.
People have always expressed concern about all these modified foods. The possibility of cancer, among other things.
Like the unproven long-term irradiative effects of smartphone use, there is no definite answer to the safety. The experts don’t all agree.
is it not better to be safe than be sorry?
A geneticist says,
I see this news as a good development.
I understand that there is an vociferous debate as to whether (genetically modified foods) GMOs are safe for human consumption.
The answer is YES and NO.
Yes.. if it is carefully and properly done. It would confer no deleterious effect on the consumer
A traditionalist wishing for us to tread the path of caution says,
We have clement weather. We have fertile land. The problem with food production in Nigeria is not about a paucity of salubrious environments.
Why grow / eat GMO foods? Are the supoosed benefits compelling enough?
The geneticist shifts into a pedagogical mode,
Crops are not all about the weather.
We modify crops genetically for various reasons:
– chemical / disease resistance
– to improve the nutritional profile of a crop
– to make a crop more adaptable to an environment
I wasn’t convinced, and interjected,
I know all that.
In the olden days that we didn’t tinker with the genetic component of crops and animals, , did we starve to death?
Is it not better to encourage more people to focus on agriculture to increase yield, instead of tweaking things that could manifest in problems, later on?
What if the possible long-term effects (say, cancers ) are real.?
The expert Insists,
One of the reasons why we are far behind agriculturally in this part of the world is because we still view agriculture as “hoe and cutlass”.
And what if modifying genetically isn’t carcinogenic?
This was really getting tiring , so I gave my final submission,
Question is.. are we equipped to take that risk? . In a country where even NAFDAC lacks the know-how or technical facilities to certify things for safe human consumption??
Are we not deceiving ourselves … aren’t we overreaching?
The geneticist finally agreed that, given the Nigerian situation, this step may mit but right for us., by opining,
This is where we should all be concerned about. Truly, we black the resources. This is Nigeria, when we want to work we do just as in the case of Ebola….
But are the ministries of agriculture, environment and NAFDAC capable enough???
That I cannot say because’ if I talk now I’m in trouble.
I once listened to a television interview of a medical doctor and a DG in the Federal ministry of agriculture on this issue. From that interview alone, anybody could tell that the Ministry Representative wasn’t on top of her game. She spoke like a lay(wo)man, and not an expert on the topic. She was simply not convincing. As people who are supposed you back in charge of agricultural policies , this is a scary situation!
Conversely, the medical doctor got really specific, and technical, as to why he believes genetically modified food being sanctioned here is deadly peregrination into the wilderness.
If we Juxtapose The Dangers /Disadvantages Of Ingesting GMOs against the advantages, I would err on the side of caution for Nigeria, given that we can have food sufficiecy here without having to tinker… coupled with our backwardness technologically.
We have enough arable land and favorable weather (generally). Just encourage enough prospective farmers.
[ It somehow reminds one of moves by Nigeria to adopt nuclear technology, when the rest of the modern world have recognized the deadly danger and are mostly abandoning that technology.]