“Over 5 Million Nigerians Urge Government to Reject Monsanto Crops” – (Common Dreams)

Its been awhile since I last waded into the depths of the Anti-GMO propaganda machine. Its also been awhile since ive come across anything really worth reading, any original nonsense. Fortunately for us however, the ideologues are still at it. Because there is no better use of ones time than to ensure that the poorest and the least nourished among us are protected from, the food they require. If you can’t eat organic, you may as well not eat at all!

Is this their line of thinking? This mind wonders . . .

But, on to the meat.

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/03/29/over-5-million-nigerians-urge-government-reject-monsanto-crops

Monsanto is poised to begin planting genetically modified varieties of corn and cotton in Nigeria, provoking the outrage of millions

Shocking revelation. To showcase legitimacy of the cause?

Cohorts can be a funny thing. Tear up a Quran and publicize that video on YouTube, I can guarantee you will also get millions outraged.

This does not mean they have a strong argument. It just means that someone has the wits not to care about their sacred cow.

In response to the biotech behemoth’s application for the release and marketing of the GMO crops in the West African nation, 100 non-profits representing over 5 million Nigerians on Monday presented the government with a formal objection (pdf).

The non-profits advocate for Nigerians from a wide swath of society—from teachers, pastors, and artists, to farmers, environmentalists, and domestic abuse survivors, among many others. The vast range of groups objecting to the Monsanto application, which was submitted last month, testifies to extent of the distrust toward genetically modified food in Nigerian society.

Notably absent from that list (for the most part) being, anyone with a professional background that would put them in a position to evaluate the situation at hand. And why mention domestic abuse survivers? How does that bear ANYTHING in the conversation?

Indeed, this does represent quite a cross section of Nigerian society. Likely a mixture from all over the economic and education ladder. But I am still unimpressed.

1.) The poor and often ignorant will believe whatever you tell them, because they likely could not fact check even if they wanted to.

Its not so much education and protection as it is, evangelization. As if the people of Africa need another group of jerk offs selling them a way of life.

2.) Wealth and/or an education in fields outside of those concerned do not ensure someone is competent enough to form a legitimate opinion on, anything outside of that range.
An engineer may know how to build and inspect bridges, buildings and other major infrastructure. But that does not mean they can not still hold other unscientific stances (anti-vaxxer and total GMO alarmist).

Even access to the internet does not guarantee safety from false or stupid opinions. Sure, the information to fill most epistemological gaps is there to be had (but for the obvious unknowns of the world). Its not always as easy to find as one would like, but its there usually.

But these days with social media, its not always as much about the facts as it is with the popular narrative. You may not know what the HELL you are talking about on any given topic, but if you can make a good argument that is easy for intellectual lightweights to grasp, you can find a following.
The anti-GMO movement has this, PLUS an aspect of scarceness (“DID YOU KNOW THAT THIS FOOD IS DANGEROUS AND UNTESTED!!). Its no wonder that it takes up so much space now.

The groups “are particularly alarmed that [Monsanto’s] application has come so close after the dismal failures of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso,” wrote the environmental think tank Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), which played a central role in drafting and organizing the objection.

Let’s check this out.

But Bt cotton hasn’t been a blessing for everyone.

The inferior lint quality of Bt cotton has caused severe economic losses for Burkinabè cotton companies. This has prompted a complete phase out of all Bt cotton production over the next two years. Company officials and Monsanto representatives cite two problems with lint quality.

1) Bt varietals produce shorter, less desirable lint. The shorter length means poorer quality, which in turn means a lower price on the international market.

2) Even though cotton yields are up, the amount machines are able to extract from the picked cotton has diminished. In other words, Bt cotton produces both less cotton lint, and lint of an inferior quality.

Inferior lint quality is not a big deterrent for farmers, who sell their cotton at a guaranteed price to the cotton companies. But it is a critical issue for the companies themselves. The combination of shorter staples and lower lint quantities substantially undermines profits.

These cotton companies also control the provision of seeds and inputs to farmers and were able to unilaterally phase out Bt cotton. This is much to the dismay of many Bt cotton farmers.

http://africanarguments.org/2016/02/05/why-africas-biggest-adopter-of-gm-crops-changed-its-mind/

The final part was interesting. The farmers were getting their moneys worth, but it was not working out at the production end of the spectrum. Being that this end is the end that control’s Burkina Faso’s seed distribution, its no surprise that they became the first to reverse utilizing this biotechnology.

From what I can see, its not a failure. Its just not as much of a moneymaker for the textile industry of the area as conventional cotton varieties. But a kink to be ironed out.

Don’t toss the baby with the bathwater.

Bt cotton is a bollworm-resistant variety of GMO cotton invented and patented by Monsanto, and after the biotech seed decimated Burkina Faso’s cotton industry that country decided this winter to phase it out of production.

Considering they first started trials in 2003 and have only (fairly) recently quit using Bt cotton, this insinuates that these people let their economy and industry remain decimated for a decade. Never mind the people . . . the cotton industry players themselves (being in control of the seed supply)!

But, why not throw in a lie when most will not call you on it anyway. Right?

The losers were the industry players, getting (seemingly) less material for their buck. This is a problem. But its not disaster.

If this were truly disastrous, I would not be writing this piece. I would not be writing this piece because, farmers (and industry!) do not continue to invest in activities that have no hope of profitability, EVER. It would not have taken a decade to figure this out.

Monsanto is requesting that Nigeria now allow it to be cultivated there, along with its so-called “Roundup Ready” version of weedkiller-resistant corn.

HOMEF director Nnimmo Bassey said, “We are totally shocked that [Monsanto’s application] should come so soon after peer reviewed studies have showed that the technology has failed dismally in Burkina Faso. It has brought nothing but economic misery to the cotton sector there and is being phased out in that country where compensation is being sought from Monsanto.”

Bassey went on, “Since our Biosafety Act has only recently entered into force, what biosafety legislation was used to authorise and regulate the field trials in the past in accordance with international law and best biosafety practice?”

“Former President Goodluck Jonathan hastily signed the National Biosafety Management Bill into law, in the twilight days of his tenure in office. Further worrying is the apparent conflict of interests displayed by the Nigerian regulatory agencies, who are publicly supporting the introduction of GMOs into Nigeria whereas these regulators (the NAMBA) are legally bound to remain impartial and regulate in the public interest,” HOMEF writes.

Nigeria isn’t the only country where government officials expected to remain impartial lobby on behalf of corporate interests, of course. The entry of GMOs into Africa was one put in place and advocated for by U.S. State Department officials, as Common Dreams reportedback in 2013.

1.) While it would not surprise me to see a corporation attempting to sweeten its way into emerging markets, you have to take these claims with a grain of salt. There is a BIG difference between lobbying on behalf of company A, and just lobbying the technology in general.

If (say) Vodafone steps in and offers to bring broadband technology to the nations of Africa, and governments are simply lobbying for the technology, is this really a form of corporate lobbying? Yes, the corporate entity benefits financially. But so to does the people it serves and connects.

I don’t know how close Nigerian officials are with any of the company’s involved. But I would need to know this to make a judgement.

2.) The US State department did what?!

I will need to see the cables that back this allegation. Context is everything. At least to some of us.

The non-profits also point out in their objection that Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” corn requires the toxic Roundup herbicide whose core ingredient, glysophate, is known to be extremely harmful to human health and theenvironment.

The statement from HOMEF described the threats Monsanto poses to Nigerians’ health, environment, and food system:

Monsanto’s application deceitfully provides no discussion on the potential risks of glysophate use to human and animal health and the environment. Apart from the potential of contaminating local varieties, the health risk of the introduction of genetically modified maize into Nigeria is enormous considering the fact that maize is a staple that all of 170 million Nigerians depend on.

The groups are urging the Nigerian government to reject Monsanto’s applications out of hand. They note with disquiet that there is a serious lack of capacity within Nigeria to adequately control and monitor the human and environmental risks of GM crops and glyphosate. Further there is virtually no testing of any food material and products in Nigeria for glyphosate or other pesticide residues, or the monitoring of their impact on the environment including water resources.

“Recent studies have linked glyphosate to health effects such as degeneration of the liver and kidney, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma,” added Mariann Orovwuje, Friends of the Earth International’s food sovereignty co-coordinator. “That NABMA is even considering this application is indeed unfortunate and deeply regrettable, knowing full well about the uncontrolled exposure that our rural farmers and communities living close to farms will be exposed to.”

And again with the fear.

Results from standard studies with these materials also failed to show any effects indicative of endocrine modulation. Therefore, it is concluded that the use of Roundup herbicide does not result in adverse effects on development, reproduction, or endocrine systems in humans and other mammals. For purposes of risk assessment, no-observed-adverse-effect levels (NOAELs) were identified for all subchronic, chronic, developmental, and reproduction studies with glyphosate, AMPA, and POEA. Margins-of-exposure for chronic risk were calculated for each compound by dividing the lowest applicable NOAEL by worst-case estimates of chronic exposure. Acute risks were assessed by comparison of oral LD50 values to estimated maximum acute human exposure. It was concluded that, under present and expected conditions of use, Roundup herbicide does not pose a health risk to humans.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10854122

As stated before, the internet has the answer to most questions. But its not always on a neat little web page. Sometimes you have to dig a little.

But, in closing, what we have here, is nothing new really. Just another in a long line of bogus claims and faulty logical claims from an inept crowd.

What else is there to say? Besides, never take what you see at face value.

Though this link wasn’t really usable in this piece, I recommend it. From Slate, its written by a journalist that actually took a fairly in-depth look into the whole anti-GMO circus. And the results were not at all surprising.

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/07/are_gmos_safe_yes_the_case_against_them_is_full_of_fraud_lies_and_errors.html

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