GMOs not officially grown in Nigeria, says minister
Amid fears that Nigeria has adopted Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed has urged the people not to panic, saying they are not currently officially grown in the country.
Mohammed, who noted that government has only given approval for field trials said, “All the officially approved GMOs in Nigeria are under experimental fields, as the insect resistant cotton for commercial release will still be subjected to further processes in the next two years.”
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, the minister said the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), established in 2015, under the Federal Ministry of Environment was charged to among others, protect the lives of Nigerians, by ensuring proper regulation of modern biotechnological activities and GMOs.
According to her, with the Act in place, Nigeria has taken laudable strides in order to adopt the necessary legal biosafety framework and policy, bearing in mind that if it is done right, it would guide other African countries.
The minister explained that the quest for Nigeria’s biotechnological advancement dates back to 2001, adding that over 20 research institutes, private biotechnology firms and universities are also key players in the biotechnology sector.
She stated that the agency is partnering with critical stakeholders such as the Nigerian Customs, the Nigerian Civil Defence Corps (NCDC), the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Ministry of Justice and Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service.
Other partners are, National Seed Council, Science and regulatory-based institutions, the New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD) and African Biosafety Network of Expertise, (ABNE), among others.
Mohammed added that NBMA has the onerous task of ensuring that potential impacts of the GMO on human or animal health, the environment and the socio-economic effects are carefully weighed and the risk assessment fully carried out before they are released.
While describing the public concerns as legitimate, she disclosed that the ministry, in collaboration with the NBMA, is organising an experts’ meeting, involving Civil Society groups, National Agencies and International Organisations to address the issues raised.She enjoined the citizenry to cooperate with the Federal Government, stating the ministry was concerned about the people’s safety.