Nigeria: NBMA Assures of Safety of GMOs in Nigeria

23 July 2021

The Director-General, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba, has assured of the safety of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) released in Nigeria.

He stressed that rigorous analysis and risk assessments had been carried out on them.

Ebegba, who disclosed this in Lagos, at a Sensitisation Workshop on Biosafety (GMO Safety and Regulation), noted that since the commercialisation of GMOs in 1996, there have been speculations that it is harmful to human health, without any scientific evidence.

He said the regulation of GMOs was based on scientific evidence and not people assuming that GMOs are harmful to human health.

"The modern biotechnology application is what has brought about GMOs, and this application is a very powerful tool that will be coming out with new products from time to time.

"Therefore all allusions about GMOs should be properly verified before some people go to the media to mislead the public," he noted.

According to him, the NBMA has what it takes to determine which products of modern biotechnology are safe and unsafe.

He further explained that there is a trade war between modern biotechnology sector and agro-sector because genetically modified crops are being developed because they have the ability to resist diseases, "and pests, in that case, there will be less use of chemicals."

Ebegba stated that the fruits and some food items which are said to be genetically modified and available in the market are not genetically modified rather, they are hybrids or improved through conventional breeding technique.

He expressed the commitment of the federal government through the agency to protect the health of Nigerians and environment by providing case by case analysis of GMOs of the potential risks associated with it.

According to him, "Since the inception of the NBMA in 2015, the obvious impact of the Nigeria Biosafety Authority has been felt all over the globe. From the decision to approve Bt Cotton for environmental release in 2016 to the decision to approve PBR Cowpea for environmental release in 2019, the NBMA has made decisions based on scientific facts for the benefit of the Nigeria people and just like our activities that have not gone unnoticed in Africa, it has not gone unnoticed globally.

"This is why Nigeria Biosafety system is well sort after in Africa and the world as our regulation and guidelines have become models that other countries use in developing their own guidelines and regulations.

"The Nigerian Biosafety system is a source of inspiration to other Africa countries and this is due to our doggedness in ensuring that our mandate is achieved and no matter the challenges, safety is our watchword."

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