By Michael Eboh & Tochukwu Maxwell
The Federal Government has disclosed that the dumping of unauthorised Genetically Modified Organisms, GMO, in Nigeria has been reduced to the barest minimum.
Speaking in Abuja, during the presentation of the agency’s scorecard for 2018, Director General of the National Biosafety Management Agency, NBMA, Mr. Rufus Ebegba, stated that efforts have been heightened to safeguard the country against harmful GM products.
He further stated that risks to human health from modern biotechnology practice and the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are at their barest minimum.
He said, “Dumping of unauthorized GMOs into Nigeria is now at its barest minimum, Avenue is being provided to confirm and harness the potentials of modern biotechnology safely. Negative Socio-economic consequences of GMOs are being guarded against. Confidence built in the practice of modern biotechnology, use and handling of GMOs and GM products.
“Nigeria’s commitment to the principles of international Agreements and Treaties to Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) is reaffirming. Proper regulation for imported GM products, so that Nigeria will not be a dumping ground for GMOs and products is assured. Other African Countries look up to Nigeria for leadership in Biosafety Issues”.
Ebegba noted that the NBMA had provided for the first time, a safe haven for the practice of modern biotechnology, its application and use in Nigeria.
According to him, Nigeria can now raise its head among nations as a country ready to appropriately key into the use of safe modern technology, a critical factor for economic development.
He stated that in the last three years, the NBMA had been able to develop and review its operational instruments for effective implementation of the NBMA Act 2015 and the ease of doing business within related sectors.
Ebegba added that the Agency had also granted Permit for commercial release and importation of GM crops for feed and food processing such as Bt. Cotton to Monsanto Agriculture Nigeria Ltd. (Commercial Release); Biosafety Permit to WACOT Nigeria Limited for commercial release of Bt Cotton.
He disclosed that Nigeria is benefiting from safe modern biotechnology under a legal framework for economic growth, improved agriculture, job and wealth creation, industrial growth and sustainable environment, especially as operators now have confidence in the sector.
Ebegba added that at present, the NBMA had trained officers through short Biosafety courses, both nationally and internationally, and sometimes to master’s level.
He said, “With the establishment of the agency, our universities and research institutes now have confidence to carry out biotechnology researches expected to increase agricultural productivity as well as contribute to food security in Nigeria.”
He added that in the coming year, the NBMA looks to train more staff and urged Nigerians to trust government decisions as government has put in place measures to ensure that human health and environment is safe.