NBMA DG Tasks Scientists on Modern Biotechnology

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  •   Says GMOs are not poisonous

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Yinka Kolawole in Osogbo

The Director General and Chief Executive Officer, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba, has described as erroneous the impression that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) products are dangerous for human consumption.

While challenging Nigerian scientists to come out in their numbers and defend the usefulness of modern biotechnology to the growth and development of the country, Ebegba blamed the upper hand antagonist of consumption of GMO products are having on silence of scientists.

Ebegba, who was represented by Mr. Alex Abutu, in his keynote address at the Second South West Agroecological Biosafety Awareness workshop at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife recently, stressed that Nigeria was not in isolation of the global community in biosafety regulation.

“The voices of those against the technology are louder while those of pro are not much heard. Scientific evidence should guide the facts about GMOs, therefore it is imperative for scientists to come out of their laboratories and tell Nigerians the inherent benefits of this technology and how it will transform our quest for food self sufficiency.

“The global debate on the environmental and health safety issues surrounding the practice and products of modern biotechnology will continue for a long time, but most importantly, the arguments should be based on scientific evidence not rumours, emotions, sympathy or hearsay,” he added.

According to him, “the NBMA was established by government as a safety valve that will ensure the practice of modern biotechnology did not pose any harm to Nigerians or the environment, adding that the public should trust government position in the regulation of modern biotechnology practice and GMOs.

“The NBMA is well positioned to effectively manage and ensure safety in the application of modern biotechnology and use of genetically modified organisms in Nigeria, with a view to averting any adverse impacts on human health and the environment,” Ebegba said.

Speaking, the Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede, said the workshop was timely and appropriate especially at a time the federal government is diversifying the economy to reposition agriculture as the mainstay.

He reassured of the university’s readiness to further support research in molecular and biotechnological applications, maintaining that OAU will no longer play second fiddle in the cutting-edge technology.

“With the current population of Nigeria and the need to guarantee food security in the country, we cannot afford to discriminate among the technologies that have been proven to be safe and widely adopted, hence our conventional agricultural practices must give way to modern tools such as biotechnology to boost agricultural productivity,” he added.