We will only use safe GMOs- Biosafety boss assures Nigerians

Dr Rufus Egbeba, the Director General, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) says the agency will ensure that only safe genetically modified organisms and foods are used in the country.

Egbeba gave the assurance in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.

“We are aware they will be lots of controversies in the sector on Genetically Modified Organisms; our role as an agency is to ensure that this sector is safe.

“I use this medium once more to assure Nigerians that National Biosafety Management Agency will not fail Nigerians.

“We also have some already approved genetically modified organisms for commercial purpose like beans, cotton, and some that have already been approved for feed processing (that is) maize for feed processing and soya beans for vegetable oil processing.

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“Due diligence in the area of risk assessment has been carried out on these products; Nigerians should be rest assured that these products are safe.

“ We will continue to monitor them for any adverse changes that may manifest and we will continue to do that regularly.

“We are also carrying out a survey to ensure that it is only genetically modified foods or organisms that are approved that will be on the shelves.’’

He said Nigerians should not be afraid of consuming genetically modified products, noting the fears and rumours trailing the use of GMOs in the media and social media in particular.

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He urged the citizenry to trust government policies on GMO, noting adding that the country was evolving and only patriotism could get the leaders on track to serve Nigerians better.

On the recent MoU signed with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture on the regulation of animal biotechnology, Egbeba said it was to prepare Nigeria for the “fast advancing technology” in that area.

“There are a lot of research works going on in the area of animal biotechnology. Yes! There is no commercial one presently in Nigeria but I know that at international forum, there is a lot of research going on.

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“But, we have to also be prepared; we are also developing guidelines for genetically modified animals to make sure that we will not be caught unawares.

“The technology is advancing very fast and new aspects of the technology are coming on board.

“The issue of gene editing is not for only plants but it could also be used for animals.

“So the agency is proactive and we are working to ensure that animal products that are genetically modified, risk assessment will be adequately carried out on them, so that only safe ones will be allowed in the markets.

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