The National Biosafety Management Agency, NBMA, Tuesday, reiterated commitment to ensuring the eradication of Genetically Modified Organisms, (GMOs) in the country, as well as assuring Nigerians of safe products in the market.
The Director-General of the NBMA, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, made the disclosure while addressing newsmen in Abuja, stating that Nigerians should be aware of the roles of the Agency in the proper regulation of GMOs in the country.
He insisted that the NBMA has not been resting on its oars in ensuring that only safe and approved genetically modified seeds and grains for food and feed processing are allowed into the Nigerian market.
Hence, he said, the constant upgrading of GM detection, analysis laboratory, and constant inspection of GMO facilities, confined field trial sites, and multi-location trial sites will ensure proper Surveillance, tracking, and monitoring of GMOs in Nigeria.
Already, he noted that the Agency had been in close relations with its international and national affiliates ensuring that issues of biosafety were not relegated to the backseat in Nigeria.
The DG further asserted that an NGO had raised an alarm of certain amounts of GMOs in the country, he, therefore, urged Nigerians not to be bedeviled by the report.
To this end, he said, “We are aware of the malicious intention of a particular NGO to poison the minds of the members of the public on the application of safe modern biotechnology and the attempt to discredit the NBMA.
“The Agency has a responsibility towards the safety of Nigerians, the environment, the realization of government objectives in the diversification of the Nigerian economy towards the actualization of the green economy and the economic prosperity of Nigerians.
“I want to restate here that the fruits and beans available in the Nigerian market presently are not genetically modified as insinuated rather they are either hybrids or improved.
“The federal government through NBMA is always poised to protect the health of its citizens and the environment by providing case by case analysis of GMO and risk assessments.
“In line with the mandate that has been added to the Agency, on regulating new modern biotechnologies such as gene drive, gene editing, synthetic biology and ensuring Biosecurity, the Agency has developed a draft National Biosecurity policy which was presented to stakeholders by the Minister of State for Environment last December.
“While gene editing and modern biotechnology are both genetic engineering tools, it will be out of ignorance to say all gene-edited products are GMOs. A product can be termed GMO only if it contains a transgene. However, gene editing does not in all cases require the introduction of a new gene into the genome of an organism. It could be deletion or suppression of a gene.
“I want to use this medium to assure Nigerians that the Federal Government through the Agency is doing everything possible to ensure that we are all safe.
“Let me say this categorically that whatever the Agency says is safe is indeed safe. Nigerians should learn to trust the federal government and allow the Agency to do what will be in their best interest. Nigerians need not be afraid as their health and wellbeing are paramount in the mind of the Agency as they relate to Biosafety.”