Reps probe Olam over importation of Genetically Modified maize

Genetically Modified maize

By Patience Danjuma 

The House of Representatives has said it will probe the alleged importation of seven ship-loads of Genetically Modified maize by Olam Group into the country.

This was sequel to a unanimous adoption of a motion by Rep. Kingsley Onwubuariri (Imo-PDP), at the plenary on Wednesday.

Onwubuariri said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration agricultural revolution was geared toward ensuring sufficiency in food production.

He said Nigerians had heeded the call and had gone back to the farms, saying the result of which was an impressive harvest in maize, which had forced the price down.

The legislator recalled recent media reports calling on the Federal Government to probe the Nigeria Customs Service and other agencies at the Seaport over the alleged importation.

He said the importation of 70,000 tonnes of GM maize into the country without the knowledge and clearance of the National Bio-safety Management Agency calls for concern.

He said the development that could stifle the efforts of local farmers and aggravate the nation’s capital flight situation.

The lawmaker said more than half of the countries of the European Union, including Germany, France, Scotland, Italy, Austria, Greece, Poland and Belgium have either completely banned or had placed severe restrictions on consumption of GM products.

He said since the question of the safety and long-term effects of genetically modified products had not been resolved in Nigeria, the importation of genetically modified maize could expose the citizens to future health hazards.

The house recommended that Olam Group be stopped from using the alleged imported maize pending the outcome of the investigation.

In his ruling, the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, mandated the Committees on Agricultural Production and Services, and Customs and Excise, to investigate the matter.

He said that the committee should recommend appropriate measures to protect the nation from the importation of such products in future, and report back within eight weeks for further legislative action.   

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