Composed by Kevin Onuma for InformAfrica
InformAfrica – There is a new food crop in town called “Vitamin A Cassava” or “Yellow Cassava“, that was genetically developed by HarvestPlus under the guise of helping Nigerians and Africans to end lack of food nutrition or vitamin deficiency; and they hired Nollywood actors to help promote the farming and consumption of the new genetically engineered yellow cassava.
While checking the web for what’s new in Nollywood, I stumbled upon a press release headline titled “Nollywood Premieres Star-studded Movies to Improve Nutrition across Nigeria” [PR link below], and thought to my self — this must be some sort of biased agenda using Nollywood actors as puppets to introduce and lure Nigerians into eating some newly developed food crop or some sort of synthetic vitamin supplement.
Upon reading the press release, I became aware of a newly genetically engineered food crop called “Vitamin A Cassava” or “Yellow Cassava“. Being someone who have worked on the farm, assisted with the growing and cultivation of different food crops including cassava, and have eaten cassava in different forms almost every day of my life — I immediately knew the yellow cassava is unnatural and definitely a foreign invention. [Note that, yellow cassava is not the same as yellow garri, which is cooked/dried/fried with palm oil].
The Yellow Cassava Movie is sponsored by HarvestPlus and directed by Nigerian film-maker, Zeb Ejiro, which stars Nollywood actors hired to promote the adoption of health-risky GMO Cassava in Nigeria and Africa.
Cassava is naturally white on the inside and brown on the outside layer/epidermis. This is the type of cassava Africans have been familiar with for years, but now a western corporation called HarvestPlus, have invented a new genetically modified “Vitamin A Cassava”, specifically for Nigerians and Africans to consume — as the answer to our nutrition problems[?]
HarvestPlus is a division of CGIAR Consortium and part of “World Bank”, with a mailing address c/o IFPRI at 2033 K Street, NW Washington, DC 20006-1002 USA.
Below is an excerpt from the aforementioned press release using series of Nollywood movies to convince Nigerians and Africans to eat genetically modified yellow cassava:
“Nigeria’s Nollywood’s top movie directors, in partnership with HarvestPlus, a global program to improve nutrition, have made four movies to entertain and (mis)inform Nigerians on how they can improve their diets and health. The movies will premiere during the 11th Abuja International Film Festival on September 24, 2014.
The movies feature vitamin A cassava as part of their storyline. Vitamin A cassava is yellow in color because it contains high amounts of beta-carotene, unlike common white cassava. Beta-carotene is a naturally occurring substance that the body converts into vitamin A. In Nigeria 30 percent of preschool-aged children and 20 percent of pregnant women suffer from vitamin A deficiency resulting in poor vision, blindness and sometimes death. By eating this new yellow cassava variety, women and children can meet almost half their daily needs of vitamin A.
But consumers first have to be convinced to switch over from the traditional white cassava. “No doubt these movies will go a long way in addressing the scarce nutrition information we have in this part of the world and we are optimistic that they will help educate the Nigerian populace that consumes cassava,” says Zeb Ejiro of Smile Africa, which represents Nollywood’s top directors.
With more than 75 percent of Nigerians watching Nollywood movies, both in rural or urban areas, these movies have an important role to play in encouraging all Nigerians to grow and eat this nutritious cassava. The movies star Nigeria’s top actors – Segun Arinze, Monalisa Chinda, Chidi Muokeme and Emeka Ossai, among others. The four movies are: The Yellow Cassava (English), Dada Oni Paki (Yoruba), Ebiyebi (Ibo) and Sakani (Hausa). Each is in a different language to ensure that all Nigerians can learn about the benefits of vitamin A cassava.
The Ministry of Agriculture is promoting vitamin A cassava under its ambitious Agricultural Transformation Agenda and has been a key supporter of Smile Africa’s vitamin A cassava-themed movies. It has also supported HarvestPlus and its partners in distributing vitamin A cassava stems to over 500,000 farmers in 3,000 villages and connecting farmers, processors and sales outlets to ensure that vitamin A cassava is available to the average Nigerian.”
I have never seen or eaten any cassava that is not traditionally white on the inside. This new yellow cassava variety is a new gift the western world is giving to Africa to help solve our lack of nutrition and vitamin deficiency problems[?]. Same way they have been injecting mega tons of vaccine dosage into the bloodstreams of many African children and uninformed elders in rural areas, under the guise of disease prevention when in fact the plan is to reduce the population of Africans.
In Bill Gates own words:
“We don’t want population growth in places like Yemen, Pakistan, and parts of Africa.” -Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and co-founder of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
No wonder mortality rate in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, continue to increase with the help of our loving and caring friends from the western world.
Nollywood, we have a Problem
What does Nollywood actors and filmmakers know about the dangers of GMO foods (such as the new yellow cassava) they are endorsing? Or, better yet, what does Nollywood know about food, its engineering and their Sponsors?
I ask this questions because many African celebrities tend to have no solid (true) knowledge of products, initiatives, Organizations and Corporations they endorse. They simply do it for exposure or for the money, and while some may endorse certain initiatives to support a cause, they often have very little or vague knowledge about the cause being supported — believing any information thrown at them without carrying out their own research or due diligence.
What does Zeb Ejiro, Chico Ejiro, Fidelis Duker, Segun Arinze, Monalisa Chinda, Emeka Ossai, Chidi Mokeme, and other endorsing Nollywood actors; know about “biofortification” or “bio-fortified food crops“, and the engineering behind it?
The term ‘biofortification’ means the breeding of crops that have been fortified with nutrients, such as vitamins or minerals, either conventionally or through the use of genetic engineering. Biofortification is achieved by genetically modifying a target commercial crop species using ‘gene splicing’ techniques to insert genes directly into the genome. Usually the gene is inserted using a gene gun or bacteria. Biofortification is just another branch of biotechnology; they are always changing or coming up with new names to hide their true nature.
Meanwhile, the term GM foods or GMOs (genetically-modified organisms), refers to crop plants created for human or animal consumption, of which the plants organisms has been altered using unnatural genetic engineering techniques.
Below are few studies confirming how deadly genetically modified food crops are:
- For instance, a study conducted some years ago showed that rats fed genetically engineered Calgene Flavr-Savr tomatoes (developed to look fresh for weeks) for 28 days got bleeding stomachs (stomach lesions) and seven died and were replaced in the study.
- Iowa farmers reported a conception rate drop from 80% to 20% among female pigs that were fed Genetically Modified (GM) corn. Most animals also had false pregnancies, some delivered bags of water and others stopped menstruating. Male pigs were also affected as well as cows and bulls. They became sterile and all were fed GM corn.
- Another study conducted in the mid-1990s by Australian scientists discovered that genetically modified peas generated an allergic-type inflammatory response in mice in contrast to the natural protein that had no adverse effect. Commercialization of the product was cancelled because of fear humans might have the same reaction.
For more on the dangers of eating Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) foods, see the following resources:
- Tiger Brands, Pioneer, Premier, force-feeding S.Africans risky GM Maize -InformAfrica
- US Scientists to feed Africans Genetically modified (GMO) bananas by 2020? -InformAfrica
- GMO news, articles, and information -Natural News
- Dangers of GMO foods – Google Search
According to information gathered from HarvestPlus.org website, the HarvestPlus research and initiatives is made possible through donations from the following institutions:
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – sponsors GMO farming and lethal vaccines in Africa
- Austrian Ministry of Finance
- Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
- Asian Development Bank (ADB)
- European Commission
- The International Fertilizer Group
- International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI)
- Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DANIDA)
- Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA)
- Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture
- United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)
- United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
- United States Department of Agriculture
- The World Bank
- World Food Program
None of the above mentioned sponsors are African or eat African food, yet they are sponsoring the invention of genetically modified foods like yellow cassava for us to eat. They think Africans are that stupid or what?
Further web research carried by the InformAfrica team revealed that a trial on the enriched yellow cassava carried out on 342 children in rural Kenya, did not alleviate vitamin A deficiency, as the western inventors of the food crop claims.
There is an article published on GlobalIssues.org and written by Busani Bafana of Zimbabwe titled “NIGERIA: Not Everyone Pleased with New Vitamin A-Fortified Cassava“, where Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN), an environmental group — dismissed health benefit claims of genetically modified yellow cassava being peddled around. The FoEN told the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) research team in Ibadan to stop meddling with one of Nigeria’s key food crops, arguing that they were undermining biodiversity.
Activists with the environmental group also say that two carrots can easily provide the daily vitamin A requirement.
FoEN believes the IITA is involved in GM research, and demanded a halt to any research on genetically modified cassava in Nigeria.
‘We can get vitamin A from carrots,’ Mariann Bassey, coordinator of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FoEN), told IPS. ‘We do not need this so called ‘biofortified’ cassava. Why will you (IITA) not leave this classic Southern crop alone?’
Bassey said biofortified cassava research was a replay of what she termed the ‘Golden Rice hoax’. According to Bassey, the infamous Golden Rice, developed in 1999 and offered as a panacea for vitamin A deficiency (VAD), had fundamental problems. She said an adult would need to eat around nine kg of cooked rice a day for the required intake of vitamin A, whereas eating just two carrots would suffice.
‘We perfectly understand the lure for cassava, a staple food crop consumed by millions of people all over Nigeria and many parts of the world,’ said Bassey. ‘But aside from profits, you want to use this ‘biofortified’ gimmick as a major frontier for the control of the food supply of a vast number of our people and as an in-road for the legitimisation of biotech crops in Nigeria.’
Some of the known side effects of eating genetically modified foods include, but not limited to: increase risk of cancer, organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, infertility in both men and women, and harmful to the natural environment.
According to the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in the US between 1994-1996. The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise.
It’s like, every year, a new variety of food crop is being introduced to Africans as the answer to solving poverty and lack of food nutrition on the continent, as claimed. Yet, all these help we are getting from our so-called western friends has only led to more diseases, sickness and increased mortality rates in Nigeria and Africa.
Why receive food or anything consumable from the same people (Europeans) who used smallpox, measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, influenza, and other diseases to wipe out the Native Americans?
This event is best known for the documented use of biological warfare when the British Army infected the Native Americans with smallpox using blankets that had been contaminated with the virus. The incident contributed to the widespread smallpox epidemics that killed much of Native American population during and after the war.
Until proper years of testing and independent research has been conducted by experienced African Researchers not sponsored by the West or greedy Corporations, the newly engineered Yellow GMO Cassava, should be avoided like a plague. I see no ethical reason why genetically modified foods should be marketed to Africans, or why we should eat them in the first place. We love our cassava in its natural form, and are not complaining.
The manipulation of nutrients in food is controversial because it is viewed as an unnatural attempt to medicating food or changing how food naturally works in our body. Dosage is also difficult to control and certain nutrients may be needed by one person, yet may be excessive and potentially dangerous for the next.
Nollywood filmmakers and actors can’t just go around telling and convincing Nigerians through filmmaking to eat some newly genetically modified food crop despite the many known health dangers of GMO, just because they are being compensated to mislead people.
Let this serve as a caution to Zeb Ejiro, Chico Ejiro, Fidelis Duker, Segun Arinze, Monalisa Chinda, Emeka Ossai, Chidi Mokeme, and their Nollywood colleagues, to not dabble in things they have little to no knowledge about. After all, they are not scientists or researchers, but merely professional actors in the make-believe world of Nollywood.
HarvestPlus is owned by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), which is funded by the World Bank and other Agricultural and non-agricultural corporations indulged in questionable agricultural practices and sponsorship, including the promoting of controversial GMO farming.
InformAfrica may be willing to partner with food and health activists (Africans), to further inform our people on the continent and in diaspora, on the dangers of consuming GMO foods, among other health related issues.