Victory for Nigerian farmers as court rules in favor of NBMA

Abuja, Nigeria:

The Federal High Court of Justice of Nigeria in Abuja today ruled in favor of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) by giving approval for the commercial release of Bt. Cotton in Nigeria.

The suit which was filed by the Registered Trustees of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and sixteen other Civil Society Organisations in the Federal High Court of Justice of Nigeria in the Abuja Judicial Division, September 13, 2017, suit No FHC/ABJ/C5/846/2017 had the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA),   Federal Ministry of Environment, Federal Ministry of Justice, Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria Limited,  Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC)  as  co-defendants.

The court dismissed the action filed by HOMEF on the ground that the action is statute barred and the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain it.

Justice A. R. Mohammed during the ruling stated that there is no base for the argument on the provisions of the National Biosafety Law and the permit issued during the weekend and public holiday by NBMA for the environmental release of Bt. Cotton. The court ruled that the matter was not a fundamental rights issue as claimed by the plaintiff.

The Justice also noted that the anti-GM groups can appeal the decision but advised against it as it was struck out on technical grounds. He went ahead to explain that the operational relationship between  NBMA and NABDA  did not breach any civil society laws or the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Two weeks before the court ruling, the National Varietal Release Committee, registered and released 2 varieties of  Bollgard II Bt. Cotton for commercialization in Nigeria. This ruling now means that Nigeria is now ready for the adoption of Bt crops and its access to Nigerian farmers enhanced.

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