Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
The federal government seems to have backtracked from sanctioning erring superstores in the country for selling genetically modified foods without authorisation following public outcry, and the subsequent threat by the government to shut down any superstore that contravenes such directive.
However, speaking with THISDAY in Abuja, the Director General, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba confirmed that some superstores were actually selling GM foods without authorisation, but stated that the country would not be used as dumping ground.
According to him, “so far the stores are complying to the directive, they are trying to formalise their products, they have obtain forms, we are still working closely with them, in fact they are complying.”
Ebegba explained: “We actually did see some that are even labelled GMOs , so what we are doing is to restore confident in the Nigerian people, it does not mean those GMOs are poisonous or they are bad. We want to ascertain their status in the country so that Nigeria will not serve as a dumping ground, the public need not to panic.”
The DG stated categorically that, “we don’t need to reel out sanction that would affect the operations of the companies because they are co-operating , they are employing people and their products are not only GMOs, we only told them to remove the GMOs because we don’t want to disturb their business, we will continue to ensure that everybody complied to ensure that the process goes on smoothly.”
He said that with the survey carried out so far by the agency and the superstores visited, affirmed that GM products have been withdrawn, stressing that the companies even made more specimen available to the agency for analysis.
The DG promised that the agency would continue to monitor the superstores for compliance , while urging journalists not to make publications that would make “Nigerians feel as if they are eating poison, or they are in danger.”