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Biosafety agency: We’ll never allow unsafe genetically modified crops into the market

Biosafety agency: We’ll never allow unsafe genetically modified crops into the market
July 21
17:42 2021

Rufus Egbegba, director-general of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), says the agency will never allow unsafe genetically modified products into the market.

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Last month, the agency had said it is prepared to tackle threats that may present in the form of biological infectious agents.

Speaking at a workshop on the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on Monday in Lagos, Egbegba dismissed misconceptions regarding the state of biosafety in the country.

He said that the federal government, through the NBMA, will continue to protect the health of its citizens and the environment.

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Egbegba added that this is done by providing case by case analysis of GMOs on the potential risk that may be associated with them.

“This workshop is also aimed at updating the general public on the federal government’s activities in the area of biosafety management in Nigeria with regards to genetically modified organisms and their safety,” he said.

“We are aware of all controversies as the regulator, and we have been able to make proper risk assessments on all the GMOs released in this country, and we can authoritatively tell you that none of them can cause any harm.

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“Currently, there is a trade war between modern biotechnology and probably the agrochemical sector because GMO crops are being developed with the ability to resist diseases and pests – in that case, there will be less use of chemicals.

“Some people say GMOs are harmful, there is no doubt if they are not probably regulated it could produce GMOs that are harmful, but the NBMA will never allow any product that is not safe to get into the market.

“People can not just assume GMOs can cause this and that. The NBMA has all it takes to determine which products of biotech is safe and not.”

He said Nigeria could not afford to be left behind, that is why the federal government, through NBMA, makes sure it approves the only safe application of modern biotechnology.

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The director-general said that the agency is also in partnership with sister agencies to monitor borders in case of any unapproved genetically modified import.

In her presentation, Gloria Ogbaki, head of press and protocol of NBMA, advised media practitioners to confirm and verify information from regulatory agencies.

“The media should report breakthroughs as it owes it as a duty to the farmers and should not be used to fuel ongoing trade war.”

Jeremy Ouedraogo, head, African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), represented by Modupe Adeyemo, called for a multi-sectoral partnership on biotech.

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Adeyemo said it would improve the health and well-being of humans, animals, plants and the environment, being the ultimate outcomes of well-functioning biosafety regulatory systems.

Akin Abayomi, Lagos state commissioner for health, commended the agency for the public enlightenment on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

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