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Survey Findings: Genetically Modified Foods in Nigeria

Acknowledgement

We appreciate all those who gave of their precious time to participate in the survey that led to this report.

Executive Summary

One of the major challenges that negates economic development in Nigeria is the lack of reliable data, and of more concern, the inability of our government to engage the people and get their buy-in in issues of national development. This was recently demonstrated in Nigeria when many were gripped with fear over Genetically Modified Cassava allegedly planned to be introduced in the country by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in collaboration with ETHZ Laboratories of Zurich Switzerland without proper consultation of the people.

Information about the perceptions of people towards the Genetically Modified foods (GMOs) is vital for a healthy living in Nigeria, and will enable government to make an informed decision about how best to handle this sensitive matter.

In recognition of the impacts of such sensitive issue towards the food safety needed to drive sustainable development in Nigeria, CSR-in-Action Advocacy – a non-profit organisation with the aim of driving collective social action in Africa towards creating sustainable shared value through our recent report  Fears of Genetically Modified Foods In Nigeria: What Experts Say” provided insightful information about the opinions of the experts. Subsequently, a survey was conducted by CSR-in-Action Advocacy to gauge the perceptions of Nigerians towards the introduction of the GMOs into Nigeria.

 

Objectives

Our main objectives for conducting this survey were to:

  • gauge the response of Nigerians towards the introduction of GMOs
  • provide honest feedback from the citizenry that would enable the government and other concerned stakeholders to make informed decisions towards regulating the introduction of GMOs into Nigeria.

 

Background

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) as organisms – plants, animals or microorganisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.

Proponents of Genetically Modified (GM) foods have suggested that the crops are safe to eat, and have the potential to meet the 70 percent food production increase needed to feed the additional estimated 2.3 billion people globally by 2050. They argue that the use of GM crops has lowered the price of food and led to increased food safety. However, critics say that with GM foods or genetic engineering, we tamper with nature at our peril.

This happens while our African peers – such as Kenya which has banned GM foods altogether – have refused to import GM foods in spite of their lower costs.

To find a clear path out of this dilemma and make informed decisions, CSR-in-Action understands that it is pertinent to seek the opinion of the general populace and report the findings.

  

Methodology

Data collection method: Primary data was collected exclusively for the purpose of this survey, to ensure a high degree of accuracy and objectivity in comparing perceptions of Nigerians towards 3 different questions.

Instrument for data collection: Online survey link was sent to about 17,000 people in our email newsletter database and through Twitter platform, and the poll lasted for one month period before the link was closed.  

 

A Report of Survey Findings

This survey is a single question survey undertaken to determine citizenry opinion about of the introduction of genetically modified foods into Nigeria. Findings of this survey reflect different perceptions of the respondents towards the issue.

While 83% (39 persons) of the 47 respondents suggested that GM foods should not be introduced into Nigeria, 15% (7 persons) agreed that it should be introduced, and 2% (1 person) was not sure of the best decision.

The 83% ‘No’ response represents what the majority of citizens want from their government, and implies that any attempt to introduce genetically modified foods into Nigeria may attract criticisms and create tension into the polity.

However, if 15% of respondents believe that the introduction of genetically modified foods into Nigeria will serve some needs, it is pertinent that more consultation and research should be conducted on a dicey matter that may engender or improve the lives of the people.

 

A Conclusion

We may not be completely sure which side of this argument is correct, but to be safe from any potential risk, it is important that we assess individual GM foods and their safety on a case-by-case basis.

Instead of limping on with these two different issues, we can start engaging in organic and natural farming that offer assurance against any suspected risk of genetic engineering since GM substances are prohibited in organic production, considering the huge mass of arable land in Nigeria that is capable of proving large quantities food naturally.

A consideration of the opinion of the people, as represented in this survey, will be pivotal for any food safety initiative in Nigeria.



3 Comments

  • Udogwu Anselem Madukaku

    The survey was timely and i must commend you for the interest shown in the health of our people.

  • Udogwu Anselem Madukaku

    Please, how can someone identify a genetically modified food(s)?

    • Hi Udogwu. Thank you for your comment.

      The standard method for identifying a Genetically Modified Food is through laboratory checks. However, you may buy foods from organic stores or start a mini farm to reduce the risk of buying Genetically Modified Foods.

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