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Nigeria Breaks History, Becomes First to Approve GMO Cowpea

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Nigeria has made history by becoming the first country in the world to approve biotech cowpea, thereby adding a new biotech crop to the global biotech basket.

 

This is according to the Global Status of Commercialised Biotech/GM (Genetically Modified) Crops in 2018 (ISAAA Brief 54), and disclosed in a news release by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, ISAAA on Thursday.

 

The release was issued at the Nigeria Science Cafe and launch of Brief 54, a report on Global Status of Commercialised Biotech/GM Crops event in Abuja.

 

The release, signed by Dr Margaret Karembu, director, ISAAA AfriCentre in Kenya showed that Africa continued to make steady progress in the adoption of biotech crops.

 

The ISAAA AfriCentre Director praised Nigeria’s progress in biotech crop development and adoption, noting that the country was leading in agricultural technology approvals enabled by an efficient bio safety system.

 

“The world is in a technological advancement trajectory, the green revolution that had taken the world by storm in the second half of the 20th century is quickly transitioning into gene revolution.

 

“We are now progressing into genome editing, a more precise and accurate technology to effectively develop more productive, highly nutritious and climate resilient crops for our rapidly increasing population,’’ she said.

 

In the ISAAA Brief 54 report, a total of 70 countries adopted biotech crops through cultivation and importation in 2018, the 23rd year of continuous biotech crop adoption.

 

Also a total of 26 countries with 21 developing and five industrialised countries planted 191.7 million hectares of biotech crops, adding 1.9 million hectares to the record of plantings in 2017.

 

The Kingdom of Eswanti, former Swaziland, joined South Africa and Sudan in planting biotech crops

 

in Africa, with commercial planting of insect resistant (IR) Bt cotton on an initial launch of 250 hectares.

 

This brought the number of African countries currently growing biotech crops to three. Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi granted approvals for planting biotech cotton as the proof that Africa is ready for biotech crop adoption.

 

The report further indicated that South Africa alone planted 2.73 million hectares of biotech crops in 2018, sustaining its ranking among the top 19 biotech crop countries in the last two decades.

 

Most farmers in the country have adopted plant biotechnology with 87 per cent of adoption of biotech maize, 95 per cent biotech soybean and 100 per cent of biotech cotton.

 

The report further stated that Sudan planted 243,000 hectares of BT cotton, and a total of 3.14 million hectares of biotech crops in Africa.

 

The report highlighted among others, that the top five countries with the largest area of biotech crops planted by U.S., Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India collectively occupied 91 per cent of global biotech crop area.

 

It showed that biotech soybean reached the highest adoption worldwide, covering 50 per cent of the global biotech crop area.

 

The report indicated that farmers in 10 Latin American countries planted 79.4 million hectares of biotech crops among others.

 

It said that with the continuously increasing adoption of biotech crops worldwide, farmers were at the forefront of reaping numerous benefits.

 


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Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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NCC Board Chairman Alleges Threat to His life by Agents of DG

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Tonye Jaja, chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), has raised the alarm over alleged threat to his life by agents of John Asein, director general of the agency.

NCC Board Chairman Alleges Threat to His life by Agents of DG

He disclosed that an unnamed member of the NCC Governing Board had threatened his life through phone calls and SMS messages.

The Board Chairman, who made the claim in a statement, titled: “Notification of threats to my life and reputation in the line of duty as chairman of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright Commission,” ‎said the development followed statements he submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission as part of ongoing investigations into allegations against Asein. ‎

According to Jaja, Asein is being investigated over alleged conflict of interest and abuse of office, among other offences.

The chairman of the NCC Governing Board also alleged that Asein and his agents have vowed to destroy his reputation through publications in the media.

The statement read: “Yesterday, I received a verbal threat during a telephone call and an SMS from one member of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright (NCC).‎

“In a nutshell, he threatened that he will use online newspapers and other means to disgrace me and rubbish my reputation.

“His annoyance and threats is not an isolated incident, it is part of a coordinated onslaught of threats, publications of propaganda and other acts of reprisal targetted against me in my capacity as the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC).

“The persons behind this have gone to the illegal extent of forging certain documents and leaking government official documents to Online newspapers in their desperate attempts at smearing my hard earned reputation.

“The Office of the Inspector-General of Police is currently investigating one of such incidences.

“All this smear campaign is because I ‎was invited by the Code of Conduct Bureau and the ICPC as part of their investigation of Mr John Asein the Director-General of the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) whom they are investigating for allegations of conflict of interest and abuse of office, etc.

“‎As a responsible and law-abiding citizen,  who could not disobey the invitation of the ICPC and the Code of Conduct Bureau, I went to the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and deposed to an affidavit to confirm the veracity of the written and oral statements that I submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

“Instead of these persons to apply the same steps of going before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) or any other court of Justice in Nigeria to swear an affidavit and oath on the pain of perjury, in support of any statements they are making, they have resorted to peddling fake news, falsehood and false, unsubstantiated allegations through the pages of online newspapers and other social media platforms.

“In recent times, their anger and onslaught has intensified because their attempts to “kill” and “bury” the investigations proved abortive considering that the ICPC, the EFCC and the Code of Conduct Bureau continued with the investigations which they had previously in an online newspaper described as the petition against Mr. John Asein as jokers.’”

The Governing Board Chairman added that anybody who is sincerely interested in knowing and verifying the truth of the allegations against Asein can make Freedom of Information requests to the Department of State Services, ‎Chairman of the ICPC,‎ Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and Inspector-General of Police through the Assistant Inspector General of Police in Charge of the Federal Investigations Bureau.

 


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Health Plus Accuses Foreign Firm of Attempt to Fraudulently Takeover Business

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Health Plus, a pharmaceutical company, has accused Alta Semper Capital, a foreign private equity firm (PEF), of a fraudulent attempt to take over its business.

Health Plus Accuses Foreign Firm of Attempt to Fraudulently Takeover Business

In a rejoinder to a press release earlier issued by the PEF, Health Plus dismissed the appointment of Chidi Okoro as chief transformation officer and the claim that Olubukunola Adewunmi George, chief executive officer, remains a director and shareholder

Health Plus stated that it entered into a five-year partnership with Alta Semper Capital in 2018 to inject fresh capital to further grow the business.

George, the rejoinder stated, was prepared to give PEF a controlling stake in order for them to realise their investment.

However, it added, PEF started working of schemes aimed at taking over the business after seeing the vastness of the Nigerian market.

PEF, according to Health Plus, deliberately starved the company of funds, neglected its obligations to the business, appointed Okoro as CTO and was running the company in utter disregard for George’s wishes.

The Chairman of the Board of Directors was said to have resigned two days ago while another director resigned five weeks ago over the debilitating effect of the impasse on the company.

The rejoinder stated that George had, in May 2020, instituted a suit at the Federal High Court (FHC/L/CS/609/2020) seeking to stop HealthPlus Africa Holdings Limited (the investment vehicle used by Alta Semper Capital and which they control) and their nominee directors from continuing to run and manage the company with disregard to her interests as a member of the Company.

After being served the court summons, PEF appealed for a mediation of the crisis outside court, a process frustrated after three meetings in three months.

Alta Semper thereafter filed an arbitration claim in England.

“Alta Semper’s latest actions, including the arbitration claim that it has now filed, constitute a serious affront to the authority of the Court seised of the suit, a desecration of the integrity of the Nigerian judicial system and a gross violation of Nigeria’s extant legislation.

“The General Public, the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria, our Staff, loyal Customers, Vendors, Landlords, Bankers and all Stakeholders are advised to totally disregard and ignore the earlier unauthorised Press Release from those who have no real stake in the Company, its employees or Nigeria.

“Mrs. Bukky George remains the Founder & CEO of the Company and is focused on preserving and growing this national treasure,” the rejoinder read.

 

 

 


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Labour Vows to Shut Down Airports, Banks, Others from Today

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Organised Labour in Lagos State has said all sectors would be shut from Monday.

Labour Vows to Shut Down Airports, Banks, Others from Today

Amaechi Asogwuni, deputy vice president, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), spoke at a news conference on Sunday, said airports, banks, and offices would not be allowed to function.

“No airport will be in operation in Nigeria; banks are not expected to function, so no business owners should risk himself, for Nigerian workers have taken that decision”, NAN quoted him as saying.

“We are the workers and we are withdrawing our services; we have the right to do so because protests are our constitutional right. And I believe we will enforce it; schools shall remain closed until this action ends.”

The labour leader appealed to Nigerians to join the protest.

He reminded them that it was part of their quota to democracy.

On the increase in petrol price, Asogwuni said the federal government should have engaged the organised labour and other stakeholders.

“The government did not do that at a time it ought to; it failed in its duty to engage labour before time. On the issue of electricity, the government had earlier had an interaction with labour in Kano and we discouraged it from proceeding.”


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