Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The Director General, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba, has said that no Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) that are not safe would be allowed into the Nigerian market either for planting, consumption or for any purpose.
The DG gave the assurance in Abuja at a recent workshop organised by the Open Forum on Agricultural and Biotechnology in Africa (OFAB) in collaboration with Journalists for Social Development Initiative (JSDI) and Program for Biosafety System (PBS) for Journalists and Communicators on GMOs.
He noted that any company, individual or group coming to do business in the country must be ready to comply with the national biosafety law.
According to him, “The issue of the safety of GMOs has always been in question by so many people particularly by activists; one thing is that it is clear globally that there is nothing in this world without one adverse impact depending on how you apply it.”
Ebegba stated: “The issue of GMOs, what I can assure is that with the establishment of NBMA and a law for it to implement, no GMOs that are not safe will be allowed in the Nigerian market either for planting, for consumption or for any purpose.”
Reacting to a question on the rejection of MONSANTO by some countries and which had been recently given approval by the agency, he said; “Nigeria as a country has laws and will also have a national biosafety law, any company either individual or group coming to do business in Nigeria must comply with the Nigerian law.
“The standards in other countries may not necessarily apply in Nigeria case; we will ensure that the Nigerian standards apply and we ensure that nobody brings anything that is not useful to Nigeria, anything that will be harmful to the Nigerian environment, that’s what I can assure you that anybody coming to do business in Nigeria must be ready to comply by Nigeria national laws, particularly the GMOs.”
Ebegbaemphasised that as a regulator, he has a responsibility to ensure that all concerns are properly addressed so that those concerns will not manifest; adding that the major concern he has presently was the misinformation flying all over the place, while urging journalists to source their information from the right sources and avoid sensationalism.
Also, the Coordinator JSDI, Mr. Michael Bissong noted that the aim of the workshop was to educate journalists as carrier of information in order for them to feed the public the right information about GMOs thereby correcting the misconception in the public domain.
He stressed that presently there is hunger and poverty which has now become a global problem, but said that the technology available in tackling the menace has come under serious attacks based on the misconception, thus the need to engage the media to spread the right information about GMOs.
Meanwhile, the CEO of Connected Development (CODE), Mr. HamzatLawal lamented that over 53 million Nigerians go to bed with empty stomach, describing the situation as worrisome because it has exercebrated corruption cases in the country, adding that the advent of technology and science could help in curbing this menace.
“As CSO we need to debate this more because some of our colleagues are actually against it, but what is key is how to rally around key stakeholders to look at the pros and the cons, to look at the effects and what are those challenges that we can unite together to curb and ensure that science and technology actually drive diversifying our economy,” he said.