by Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour
With Nigeria joining the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition initiative in the hope of getting $300million from the G8, we would be selling our birthright for the proverbial bowl of porridge.
“Seeds are the primary source of life”
When a multi-national organization (whose main motivation and sole concern is maximizing profit at whatever cost) is given the power to solely control the supply of seeds, they would eventually control life itself. Many things humans do, use or consume are optional. Feeding is not one of them .As the saying goes,
“Man must chop”
With Nigeria joining the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition initiative in the hope of getting $300million from the G8, We would be selling our birthright for the proverbial bowl of porridge. We know how that story ends but please permit me to explain, bearing in mind that we currently as a nation are so rich that $40billion or is it $20 billion or $12billion can actually disappear from our vaults. At this stage in our development we should not be depending on this kind of AID, History has shown that depending on other nations to uplift us based on their own criteria, their own terms as well as their self interest never works. As the saying goes,
“Beware Greeks bearing gifts”
In June 2013, Nigeria was announced as a partner country in the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a G8 initiative to catalyze private-sector investment in African agriculture.
“Nigeria believes that agriculture is a business and that the role of government is to provide an environment that enables the private sector to succeed,” – Agriculture Minister Adesina.
“What joins all our food policies is the imperative to reduce our import food bill, promote domestic and regional markets, and create jobs across the entire food value chain.” – Agriculture Minister Adesina.
On the surface this looks very commendable but the question is HOW!? HOW do these ambitious plans fit in with the G8 and Monsanto? Let’s take a closer look.
The New G8 Modus Operandi is to give aid monies on the condition that Nigeria meets requirements dictated by a selected group of multi-national corporations. These requirements and timelines are listed in full at the following link.
– Large Tracts of Land will be seized from local farmers to be given to corporations such as Monsanto and Unilever
– Legislation revising seed laws to force small farmers to buy seeds and fertilizers from the corporate rather than seed sharing, which has been practiced for generations and ensures biodiversity. (This is why we should be worried)
Lets focus on the seed laws.
First stage of Framework
Pass and Implement seed law that reflects the role of the private sector in technology
(certified and foundation seed) development, seed multiplication, and marketing, and reflecting
the regulatory role of the public sector, consistent with ECOWAS seed law
a.Cabinet, National Assembly, and President approval of seed law ————————— December 2013
b.Review and revise regulations for the implementation of the seed law ———————— October 2014
c.Implement seed law———————————————————————————December 2014
Akinwumi Adesina (2012) “Investing in Nigeria’s Agricultural Value Chains” Paper Presented at the Bank of Industry’s Nigerian Investment Forum, London. July 30
The document should be viewed within the context of recent
FGN policy pronouncements that include:(i) Zero percent duty on agricultural machinery and equipment imports, (ii) Removal of restrictions on areas of investment and maximum equity ownership by foreign investors (iii) free repatriation of capital and returns, (iv) Constitutional guarantees against nationalization/expropriation,
We would come back to how ridiculous these federal policies are. For now let us focus on the seeds.
The Provider of these seeds as listed in the framework is Monsanto.
Monsanto is a bio –Tech Company that produces genetically enhanced seeds. These seeds are more resistant to diseases, drought and promise high yields.
The seeds that are purchased from Monsanto produce crops whose seeds cannot be replanted. These crops will not produce viable offspring seeds or will produce viable seeds with specific genes switched off.
WHAT THIS MEANS
Seeds created by Monsanto have been biologically engineered to produce sterile seeds. This means every farmer will have to buy seeds from Monsanto to plant. Monsanto also claims intellectual property rights on their seeds hence the need to force governments to ‘Review and revise regulations for the implementation of the seed law’.
Aside from the fact that Nigeria would become completely dependent on Monsanto for seeds each time they want to plant, Bearing in mind these seeds can be sold at any price Monsanto deems fit, The negative impact of these farming methods on the earth is huge.
The Chain Reaction
The Nigerian govt will force farmers to buy seeds from them and enforce these Monsanto’s intellectual property rights.
With Huge acreage Of land being planted all over the country by these coporations,The wind blows these seeds all over the country leading to contamination on farms that are not using modified seeds. those seeds will start growing on peoples farms competing for resources with natural variety and Eventually the natural variety dies out. farming on such an industrial scale will exhaust the soil leading to the use of more and more fertilizer which in turn damages our water Table. These harmful effects are irreversible.
Lets look at case studies.
America, Europe and the World
Recently in America, Monsanto has fiercely fought the food labeling initiative I-522 in Washington State
The I-522 simply called for
” This measure would require foods produced entirely or partly with genetic engineering, as defined, to be labeled as genetically engineered when offered for retail sale in Washington, beginning in July 2015.”
Now if a product is so good for people, why does Monsanto refuse to label (let people know that food products contain genetically modified organisms). The reason is simple. If Labeled, People in the western world will stop buying.
Meanwhile, although these foods are being sold in the U.S., GMO foods are either banned or severely limited throughout much of Europe, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany. And a long list of other countries are following suit, including Japan, China and Brazil. In fact, Monsanto has virtually stopped lobbying for GMO planting in Europe due to low demand by farmers and consumers.
NOW see how blatant the irony is – G8 countries fiercely resist Monsanto in their own countries, but insist on shoving it down our throats.
In India, Monsanto has been linked to the terrible farmer suicides since the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002.
Farmers are caught up in a lose-lose situation. They end up with a far more expensive crop that has the potential to fail more frequently than conventional crops and can be very dangerous to the animals and humans who consume them.
GE seeds are very expensive compared to traditional seeds, and have to be repurchased every planting season , These farming methods lead to higher occurrence of “super weeds”. Thus GE crops require much more water to grow, have much higher requirements for fertilizers and pesticide, and provide no increased yield . Rising prices for seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and other farm supplies, along with falling prices for farm commodities lead farmers to take out high-interest loans from opportunistic moneylenders .
A shift from polyculture farming (diverse crops) to monoculture farming (primarily cotton) had depleted the soil and increased pest infestation on crop
Monsanto has been ruthless in its aim to use India as a testing ground for GE crops, giving you a clear picture of what could happen for the small farmers of the world if GE seed conglomerates are allowed to continue.
To read more on Monsanto Profit at any cost approach, kindly read the following sources.
NIGERIA AND THE G8 INITIATIVE
Nigeria currently has one of the youngest populations in the world, while countries are experiencing declines in population, ours is growing. Our leaders have bought in to the paradigm of development as dictated by the west, without an understanding of history. Accompanied by an ignorant naivety that blinds them consistently to the fact that the west and big corporations only seek their own self interest which is always at our detriment.
More than a century ago the ‘scramble for Africa’ was instituted under the pretence of civilizing the continent. Barbaric crimes were committed and the continent systematically de-developed because it profited Europe. These countries and corporations are not doing us a favor they are seeking to enslave us to maximize profit and guarantee dependence on them to survive.
Lord Lugard said this about the Nigerian.
HIS THOUGHTS ARE CONCENTRATED ON THE EVENTS AND FEELINGS OF THE MOMENT, and he suffers little from the apprehension for the future or grief for the past. His mind is far nearer to the animal world than that of the European or Asiatic, and exhibits something of the animals’ placidity and want of desire to rise beyond the State he has reached. Through the ages THE AFRICAN APPEARS TO HAVE EVOLVED NO ORGANIZED RELIGIOUS CREED, and though some tribes appear to believe in a deity, the religious sense seldom rises above pantheistic animalism and seems more often to take the form of a vague dread of the supernatural”
“HE LACKS THE POWER OF ORGANIZATION, and is conspicuously deficient in the management and control alike of men or business. HE LOVES THE DISPLAY OF POWER, but fails to realize its responsibility… he will work hard with a less incentive than most races. He has the courage of the fighting animal, an instinct rather than a moral virtue… In brief, the virtues and defects of this race-type are those of attractive children, whose confidence when it is won is given ungrudgingly as to an older and wiser superior and without envy…Perhaps the two traits which have impressed me as those most characteristic of the African native are HIS LACK OF APPREHENSION AND HIS LACK OF ABILITY TO VISUALIZE THE FUTURE.”
HIS LACK OF ABILITY TO VISUALIZE THE FUTURE. Lord Lugard could be describing our Agriculture minister as well as all our leaders that are supporting this alliance.
What we need is not AID, we need to develop our food sovereignty. Focus on food crops for food consumption as opposed to cash crops for export.
Food sovereignty is the ownership and control of land and non-reliance on imported seeds and foods, as well as being able to adjust crops to need.
We Should be apprehensive we should be worried!! How long would we be puppets?
From slavery, to colonization from apartheid to the most recent Pfizer scandal in Kano were children were used as Lab rats. Have we not been given more than enough reason to be apprehensive? History shows and continues to show that our welfare should not be put in the hands of those whose sole motivation is profit without consideration to environmental or societal damage. It is In this regard our government is supposed to protect its citizenry by putting together sustainable frameworks that not only tackles problems and challenges we are faced with today, but does this knowing our children would bear the burdens/reliefs our decision brings.
Putting aside the danger to our health as relates to cancers , allergies and all other factors that put the entire world on edge when dealing with Monsanto as well as all the court cases against them , documented harmful effects on our soil, water and ecological resources and without having to surrender whole crop genomes and bio diversity, Lets think about the future and disappoint lord Lugards expectations.
Years from now after surrendering our Food sovereignty to Monsanto and others, While the west is still developing test and experiments to prove and disprove the effects of GM foods. How far along do you imagine Nigeria would have come on that path? At this point all we know about the effects GM foods have on the human body comes directly from the people trying to sell it to us.
Now when people feed you with food made in a lab you would have no choice but to eat it. If they choose to use your population as lab rats they would ( as they have done before).
If the west decides that our population should be artificially controlled through the manipulation of our foods or immunizations and inoculations the Nigerian population takes , It would be easily possible. This has been done successfully throughout world history in several countries by making less desireable populations sterile, their populations are reduced by the ruling class. This process is called “EUGENICS” to learn more on this (http://hnn.us/article/1796) . They control what you eat, which ultimately means they control the health of your body.
If you are not yet worried scared or apprehensive, then truly Lord Lugards words still ring true.
I acknowledge positive strides in agricultural reform the president and minister have made in this administration as regards home grown rice processing and less dependence on imports. Those are solid steps taken towards Food Sovereignty. We need to apply the same independent approach throughout the agricultural revolution our government is trying to spur.
This Alliance would set us and generations to come backwards. It places our fate in systems that have proven over and over again that they do not have our interest at heart.
Organic crops are more labour intensive, yes, but we are not short of labour in this country are we? We are short of jobs We can feed the entire country by integrating companion cropping / permaculture techniques, reforestation of arid areas, alternative infrastructures, and increasingly with holistic ecological and biotechnological approaches. And most importantly by simply improving the conventional farming practices that are already used around the world.
Alternatives to the industrialization of agriculture are being explored worldwide, and as the realities of climate change come to the fore, Africa is a place where new models of permaculture could meet old models of sustainable farming in so doing create sustainable and locally owned solutions to nutritious food production.
Our future generations cannot afford the costs of degraded soil and water quality, lost biodiversity and catastrophic levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
If It is a question of funds, aside from all the looting going on in our treasury, ($20billion) . In March this year, America seized $400million of our late Sani Abacha’s stolen funds (http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/March/14-crm-230.html) . That sum is more than the value the entire G8 is going to contribute according to the framework.
Surely if the agriculture revolution is that important, those funds can be put to it.
Our Leaders once sold their people for Umbrellas, we clearly have not learnt a century later, our minister for $300million wants to sell our food sovereignty. it is my hope we learn from our past so our children don’t pay for our foolishness.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.