Nigeria’s bio-security guaranteed, FG again alleys Nigerians’ fear
ABUJA – FEDERAL Government has strongly assured its citizenry again that the country’s bio-security is guaranteed, insisting that there is no Genetically Modified Foods (GMO) in Nigeria.
The government, while placing the alert on importation of unauthorized maize, made it clear that no genetically modified maize had been imported into the country’s markets, contrary to the ongoing speculation in the media.
Genetically modified foods are foods produced from organisms that have had changes introduced into their DNA, using the methods of genetic engineering as opposed to traditional cross breeding.
The Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibril said the government was working assiduously to ensure food security, describing biotechnology as an alternative that must be imbibed to move the country forward.
Jubril stated this alongside with experts in Biotechnology at the 3rd National Biosafety Conference tagged; “Biosafety, Paving the Way for Safe and Sustainable Environmental Management, Agricultural Development and Economic Recovery”, held in Abuja.
The minister said many lies were said against GMO, making Nigerians to throw away the baby with the bath water.
He maintained that biotechnology is not as evil as being entirely presented, acknowledging that though there might be some tiny negative sides, its positive sides were enormous that the country can benefit from.
“We will not be afraid of receiving criticism, but we want constructive criticism. That is why in this conference, those who are for and against this technology are invited to share their views and express what they feel, so that together we can understand the future of biotechnology,” the minister said.
Jibril further said that “a secured nation is the one that grows its own foods, processes what it produces to compete in the international market,” adding that Nigeria could not afford to continuing importing what the people can produce.
He assured of the federal government’s determination to partner with all stakeholders in exploring the use of relevant technology that would provide adequate food for Nigerians.
Speaking in an interview, the Director General of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba debunked media reports that genetically modified foods had been imported into the country’s local markets, adding that the Nigeria Custom Service had been alerted on the matter.
He confirmed that “we don’t have any approved genetically modified food, what we have is genetically modified plants that are under experiment.
“The media is awashed with negative news and that is not the best for our country, there is no need to create fear in the minds of Nigerians. The rumors of poisonous Genetically Modified Maize that is being imported into the country, we should be rest assured that nothing unsafe will be allowed into the Nigerian market.
“Nigerians will be protected; the agency is on ground to ensure that such things are not coming into the country.
“We have a Genetically Mortified Organism (GMO) detection laboratory analysis; some specimens have been taken there for analysis. Presently, we are doing a survey round the country of genetically mortified species, once we found anyone that is not suppose to be in the country, we will make sure that they are removed from the market immediately.
“As for the rumors that they have imported poisonous maize, we have alerted the Nigeria Custom Service not to allow any bulky shipment of maize into the country, until we ascertain their status. We are not too sure anyone has been imported but we are monitoring the situation.”
In her remarks, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment, Senator Oluremi Tinubu promised to work with the agency to ensure that they carry out their mandates effectively.
Mrs Tinubu, who was represented by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, noted that the emerging trends in technology might necessitate some aspects of the Act that set up the NBMA to be reviewed, adding “NASS remains a willing tool for the country to achieve its desired development.”