GM cowpea poses "enormous threat to human and environmental health"
EXCERPT: Current research has revealed that protein produced by this transgene ... induces alterations in immune systems of laboratory animals.
Experts kick against commercial release of Bt cowpea
By Ruth Tene Natsa
Leadership (Nigeria), 5 Feb 2019
The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and a coalition of CSOs and farmers have denounced the recent approval for release of Bt cowpea (beans) for cultivation in Nigeria and demanded a rejection of the application for field trials of a cassava clone.
They asserted that the processes of making and approving these artificial crops presents enormous threat to human and environmental health.
Recall that on January 28, 2019, the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) issued permits to the Institute of Agricultural Research, Zaria for the commercial release of a genetically modified cowpea said to be resistant to the Maruca vitrata virus.
The coalition in response to this stated that the release of this genetically modified beans would contaminate indigenous varieties, place them at risk and expose our farmers and peoples to avoidable risks.
They made reference to study of pollinator characteristics of the natural West African wild cowpea populations which reveals that the Bt-gene will move from the genetically modified lines to non-modified lines of both cultivated and wild relatives, resulting to other plants gaining the resistance trait that will cause an alteration in ecological balance and present adverse effects.
“It is worth noting that this cowpea containing the transgene Cry1Ab, has not been approved for commercial use anywhere else in the world. Use of this Bt gene was discontinued in South Africa where the cultivation of maize modified [with the gene] led to enormous pest resistance and infestation. Current research has revealed that protein produced by this transgene has toxic effects on human liver cells [GMW: This research is in vitro and hasn't been confirmed in living humans] and induces alterations in immune systems of laboratory animals,” they stated.
The coalition added that the projection that this GM beans will increase yield by 20 permanent above current levels is a paltry reason for exposing the nation to risks as the challenges of agriculture in Nigeria are complex and cannot be solved by one genetic engineering silver bullet.
Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, said, “It is clearly impossible to label genetically engineered beans and its products in Nigeria. Our socio-cultural setting makes it impossible to give Nigerians the right of choice through labeling of GMOs. This is one reason why the rush into GMO approvals is extremely perplexing. Where is the push coming from and why this reckless rush?”