Nnimmo Bassey is Director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), a Nigeria-based environmental think tank and advocacy
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Civil society organisations throughout Africa are campaigning for agroecologial and indigenous approaches to maintain food sovereignty. But their umbrella organisation, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), warns that a corporate industrialisation of African agriculture could destroy the biodiversity and ecosystems that these approaches are based on. Taking the introduction of genetically modified organisms in Nigeria, our author looks at how such industrialisation processes can come about.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. It is estimated to have about 170 million inhabitants, accounting for close to 50 per cent of the West African population. With this numerical strength, the biotech giants no doubt imagine that Nigeria is the market to grab for their genetically modified products. More so, as Nigeria remains a major influence in Africa, it is clear that the entry of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the country will facilitate the acceptance of their risky technology in other African countries. Nigeria is currently faced with intense pressure to adopt modern biotechnology as a solution to food challenges.

It took many years for Nigeria to develop a National Biosafety law. The country had the benefit of an existing Biosafety Model Law developed by the African Union (AU) in 2003, which was meant to serve as guide to African countries as they drafted domestic biosafety frameworks and legislation at country level in order to robustly regulate the production of GMOs or their entry into their territories.

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