By Chidimma C. Okeke
The Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril has tasked regulatory agencies in the country to ensure that Nigeria does not become a dumping ground for Genetically Modified (GM) foods
The minister stated this at a meeting on collaboration between regulatory agencies and the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) and the commissioning of NBMA GMO Detection Laboratory in Abuja on Monday.
“We the regulatory agencies must unite with a sense of purpose, vision, mission and determination to ensure that our nation does not become a dumping ground for GM foods and feed nor shy away from reaping the benefits of the application of modern biotechnology and use of GM foods and feeds,” he said.
He said the partnership became important in order to develop a joint framework among all regulatory agencies for commercial GM crop oversight, rather than solely being an NBMA oversight function.
Jibril, represented by the Director of Human Resources, Mr. Gabriel Loto maintained that modern biotechnology is becoming increasingly important in addressing the emerging challenges with regards to food security and renewable energy demands and in turn economic and social challenges.
Earlier, Director General, NBMA, Dr. Rufus Egbema said the agency was mandated to certify GM foods or commodities before being allowed into the country for safety reasons. It is therefore, important to partner to achieve greater success on issues regarding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), he said.
“Modern biotechnology is the movement of genes to transfer traits of beneficial interests. We have a law and that will serve as our guide for our operations. So we will not encroach on each other’s responsibilities but we will seek collective efforts in areas of support,” he said.
Speaking on the GM detection lab, Egbema explained that with the standard of technologies equipped in the laboratory, the NBMA could detect the smallest element of GM.
He disclosed further that the lab would ensure whatever GM crop being imported into the country was well tested and analysed, as the country could not afford to allow uncertified GM commodities escape into the market.