Revoke TELA maize commercial permit, group tells NBMA

Coalition of Civil society groups, researchers and analysts has called on the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) to revoke permits recently granted for the commercial release of the TELA Maize.

According to the group, the maize variety which has been genetically modified for drought tolerance and insect resistance is a failed and an unwanted venture and it is only being pushed to Nigeria for commercial interest.

A statement by the Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Nnimmo Bassey, recently on behalf of others described the “Nigerian GMOs promoting set up as a GMOs cult enjoying an alliance with an approving architecture that endorses virtually every application brought to it.”

He further stated that this genetically engineered TELA maize has failed to be as productive as conventionally bred drought tolerant varieties in both the USA and South Africa. This TELA maize trial was discontinued and the varieties destroyed in Tanzania in 2018 for failing to confer the promised drought resistance and insect resistance.

“Regrettably, the giant of Africa has become the giant hole for dumping failed technologies thanks to our permitting regulatory agency. There is no reliable history of safe use of the GM variety to justify its introduction in Nigeria and the claim of drought tolerance and insect resistance remains unsubstantiated. Moreover, routine claims by Nigerian agencies that there are no risks with GM crops are fatuous.”

Mariann Bassey Orovwuje, food sovereignty programme coordinator at Friends of the Earth Nigeria/Environmental Rights Action decried the fact that this TELA maize with events MON 87460 and 89034 will be grown in the same ecological zones that conventional maize is grown, as stated in the application for commercial release. “This is unacceptable. It will lead to contamination of the conventional maize varieties being grown in the vicinity. Wind dispersal and insect dispersal are potential avenues for contamination” she added.