Groups sue biosafety agency, ministers over permit to Mosanto for GMO cotton

Dr. Rufus Ebegba


Seventeen civil society groups, last week drew a battle line with the National Biosafety Management Agency (NABMA) for granting a multi-national company, Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited permit to release and place in the market genetically modified for insect (pest) resistance cotton and maize in the country.

The defendants in the suit are National Biosafety Management Agency, Ministers of Environment, Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited, National Biotechnology Development Agency, Minister of Agriculture, Attorney General of the Federation and National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control.

The plaintiffs, including the Registered Trustees of Health of Mother Earth Foundation, Women Environmental Programme and Initiative for Peace, Empowerment and Tolerance in an originating summon filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division are seeking a declaration that the 1st defendant did not comply with the provisions of the National Biosafety Management Agency act in granting the permits to the 3rd and 4th defendants for the purpose of commercial release of BT cotton (MON 15985) and confined field trial with NK603 and MON89034 x NK603 maize in Nigeria.

The plaintiff also want a declaration that the issuance of the said permits on the May 1, 2016 which happens to be a public holiday being Sunday and Workers Day is illegal, null and void; that the procedure and issuance of the permits to the 3rd for the purpose of commercial release of bt cotton (MON 15985) and to the 3rd and 4th defendants for confined field trial

The summons taken out by Ifeany Nwankwere of Basilea Juris Associates are seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd defendant and 4th defendant by themselves, their agents, servants, workmen or otherwise whatsoever from carrying out any activity or further activities pursuant to the permits granted by the 1st defendant as well as a order revoking the permits granted by the 1st defendant to the 3rd and 4th defendants.

An environmentalist, Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation, in an affidavit in support of the originating summon said, “that the 1st and 2nd Defendants did not take into consideration public views as no public hearing to seek the views of the public on the applications was ever organized. Neither did they take into consideration.”

“The prevailing health and environmental concerns around GMOs even in the Western Countries especially as an international tribunal in the Hague recently found that the activities of the 3rd defendant causes harm to the environment and opined criminalising such activities as “Ecocide”.

“That if the reliefs are not granted the activities of the 3rd Defendant & 4th Defendant as per the approvals would jeopardise our environment. It would also be a missed opportunity to check administrative rascality and constant disregard for public interest and due process.”



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