By Emmanuel Elebeke
Abuja — The National Biotechnology Development Agency, NABDA, has reiterated its stand on Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs, stating that the efficacy and safety of the products were guaranteed under scientific proof.
Director General of the agency, Prof. Lucy Ogbadu, gave the assurance during a sensitization seminar on Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs, and Agricultural Biotechnology organised by NABDA for staff of the Federal Ministry of Health in Abuja, yesterday.
Ogbadu said there had never been any negative effect recorded from any genetically modified organism anywhere in the world, insisting that the fear for GMO foods was based on falsehood, which had been trashed scientifically.
He said biotechnology was as old as history, adding that Federal Government established NABDA in 2001 to look at it because it saw what modern biotechnology was doing and could do to benefit the economy.
“There has never been any negative effect of any genetically modified organism anywhere in the world. If you know of any let me know? The fear for GMO foods is based on falsehood and has been trashed scientifically.
“Biotechnology is as old as history. In 2001, Federal Government established the NABDA to look at it because it saw what modern biotechnology is doing and the benefits.”
If federal government is not interested in modern biotechnology, it would not have come up with policies that established NABDA as an institutional framework.
“Federal Government has shown in so many ways that modern biotechnology is the way to go for any nation that wants to develop.
“The contribution to our economy is positively huge because the dividends are huge. The contribution to GDP is in billions of dollars because those nations that have embraced modern biotechnology are already getting huge dividends in terms of dollars earnings annually,” she said.
Apart from its routine advocacy, she said the agency had been involving farmers in all their field trials, assuring that the farmers would definitely experience unprecedented boom in their farms when the crops were eventually commercialized.
“Farmers are always there with us. The farmers are always involved in the trials. We don’t have problem with them. What they are concerned about is the benefits. They are interested because they have not seen any hazardous effect in the technology.
“Though, there are no commercial product, but when they finally come on board, those of them in the pipeline, will be commercialized,” Prof. Ogbadu said.
In his own presentation, the Director General of National Biosafety Management Agency, Dr. Rufus Egbabe, said five years imprisonment or N2.5 million fine awaited defaulters in the event of contravention of the biosafety law, if such a person was found guilty.
On whether anybody had been sanctioned, he said the agency had been carrying out surveys and had mandated all dealers to remove all GMO foods on their shelves until their status was certified and dealings formalised, so they would be sure of what was in the market and also guarantee the safety of Nigerians.
In his reaction, the National Coordinator, Food Safety Programme in the Ministry of Health, Mr. Fubara Chukwu, said the ministry had not carried out any research on the safety of GMO foods but relied wholly on NABDA and NBMA.
“On our part, we have not carried out any research, we are looking at NABDA and NBMA. It is a sensitive issue.
‘’What I can assure you is that we will take the right step to come up with a position on GMO foods, though we may be slow in taking the decision,” he said.