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Stakeholders on using biotechnology to achieve food security

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GMO maize. PHOTO: euobserver.com

For agriculture to be worthwhile, Biotechnology must be employed rather than reliance on crude techniques that do not confront present day challenges in agriculture.

This was the submission of stakeholders at the South West Zonal Sensitisation Workshop on Biotechnology and Biosafety, held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, with the theme: “Agricultural Biotechnology: A Tool For Economic Growth And Development.”

The workshop, organised by the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), was in collaboration with the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) Programme for Biosafety Systems, and Ogun State Government, among others.

The Overseeing Director General of NABDA, Mr. Oguntunde Abayomi disclosed that through the workshop, it has become possible for Nigerians to identify their need for improved agricultural technologies and recognise where they stand in the scheme of things in terms of efforts to achieve global food security through sustainable agricultural practice, describing the event as timely and pertinent, especially at this period when the country and other African countries are adopting improved agricultural technologies for food security.
 
“It is also commendable that OFAB has earned a reputation for committing itself to a painstaking dissemination of information and correction of misconceptions around agricultural biotechnology through organising sensitisation events similar to this all over Nigeria.”

The OFAB Country Coordinator, Dr. Rose Gidado, in her paper, stressed why biotechnology has kept the promise of achieving food security across the world.
 
She noted that the sensitisation programme was aimed at enlightening the public within the zone on the benefits of biotechnology and promoting an understanding of the potentials of agricultural biotechnology and biosafety.

In his keynote address, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo said deliberate efforts should be made on the part of government to encourage scientific incursions into agriculture by encouraging research and adoption of new technologies.

 
According to him, the challenges of today’s world have brought many pressures to bear on agriculture: population growth, insects and pests infestation of crops, weed invasiveness, soil infertility, salinity, the impact of climate change (drought and rise in temperature), greenhouse gas emissions, and water and energy shortages.

“Biotechnology is taking mankind beyond depths of understanding of chemical and physical possibilities.

It has the potential to increase agricultural productivity, enhance food security, and develop better health care delivery system, boost efficient industrial development process for transforming raw materials and detoxification of hazardous wastes, and reduction in mortality rates and move agriculture away from a dependence on chemical inputs, helping to reduce environmental problems,” he said.

In her goodwill message, Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs. Adepeju Adebajo noted that it is an undisputable fact that there is a symbiotic relationship between agriculture and economic development, given the role of agriculture in the provision of food, raw materials for industries and employment opportunities for the teeming population.

“However, we still experience a major problem of social acceptability of many Nigerians about biotechnology and Genetically Modified products.

As every new idea have both advantages and disadvantages, there is ethical concern about the morality of the various practices employed inn research and development of cloning, xenotransplantation, stem cell research, fetal tissue use and GMOs.”


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