A UK-based Nigerian scientist, Ify Aniebo, has criticised the Nigerian Academy of Science over its position on the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) foods in the country.
Speaking during a tweet chat on Friday, Ms. Aniebo, an Oxford University alumni, said the academy’s endorsement of GMOs without its own independent investigation, was against the tenets of science.
“NAS didn’t do any laboratory studies or epidemiological studies to come to that conclusion. They claim it’s safe because big Agric companies say so,” said Ms. Aniebo, a molecular geneticist specializing in clinical medicine, infectious diseases and public health.
“Every scientist should be able to carry out independent tests to either confirm or dispel this notion and NAS not doing so goes against the very tenet of being a scientist.
“Secondly, these companies that sell GMOs have not done any proper laboratory or epidemiological studies to ascertain safety of their products. Neither have the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). So humans who eat GMOs are basically lab rats.
“Thirdly, there are published data that show the health effects of eating GMO including cancer, infertility, kidney disease to name a few.”
The Nigerian Academy of Science had, last November, declared that genetically modified foods were safe for consumption “for now based on carefully documented evidence from developed countries.”
Oyewale Tomori, the academy’s outgoing president, had said the GMOs technology would help boost agriculture and resolve the food crisis in the country.
“We cannot predict the future and what is going to happen with these GMOs, but so far so good, there are no problem from where they have been used; but that does not mean that it is going to be good forever,” Mr. Tomori, a professor of Virology, had stated.
On Wednesday, a coalition of civil society groups staged a rally in Abuja demanding an end to the planned introduction of GMOs into Nigeria’s foods and farming scheme.
The groups also delivered a petition to the National Assembly seeking a repeal of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Act which was signed into law in April 2015 by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The groups’ demand followed last year’s issuance by the NBMA of two permits for the Commercial Release and Placing on Market of genetically modified cotton and the confined field trial of maize, to Monsanto Agriculture Nigeria Limited.
The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said this week that it had not licensed any genetically modified products in the country.
During her tweet chat on Friday, Ms. Aniebo said her disagreement with the NAS’ position on GMOs was based on all the peer reviewed published scientific papers that “show evidently, GMOs are bad news for our health.”
“I think considering the fact NAS represents the country, it’s disappointing they didn’t back up their claim with any scientific evidence,” Ms. Aniebo continued.
“Just to be clear – A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal.
“The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even human.
“Stay away from GMOs as they have been proven to cause liver and kidney damage.”