‘Nigeria has capacity for safe application of modern biotechnology’
Director-general of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba, has declared that Nigeria has the capacity to deploy safe biotechnology products for agricultural development and environmental safety.
Ebegba, who gave the assurance at the opening of a two-day retreat on agricultural biotechnology for media practitioners and extension workers yesterday in Kano, explained that Nigeria possessed the institutional capacity and policy framework to ensure the application of modern technology, especially on agricultural production with the potential to accelerate food security and reduce import dependency.
He stressed that the establishment of the NBDA, which necessitated the development of national policy on biotechnology in 2001 and the enactment of the agency, mandated to ensure the safety of modern biotechnology products, has positioned the country with the knowledge to deploy Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) products.
Ebegba stressed that part of the core responsibility of NBDA was to ensure the regulation of biotechnology and the safety of GMO products for human health and the environment.
“With the appropriate laws in place, the agency has developed biosafety guidelines for various government agencies and departments. We have developed regulations in 2017, pursuance to 2015 laws establishing the agency that as the national biosafety policy.
“We also have regulations to meet the emerging technological advancement in the country like gene drive syntactic biology. We have been mandated to ensure that all harmful agents in biotechnology deployment are averted.
“On capacity, we have an NBDA, biotechnology policy adopted since 2001, agricultural research council, institute of agricultural development and universities doing genetic engineering with the commitment of developing safe genetically modified products.
“With these, I can say that Nigeria is competent enough with the institutional and human capacity to deploy biotechnologies and its products safely for the economic growth and development, especially in the area of agriculture and environmental sustainability,” he stated.
He lamented the activities of anti- GMOs agents, which he insisted, know the truth, but decided to embark on an unpatriotic mission due to their selfish interests and expressed concern that the media was being used to promulgate the mission to avert the scientifically proven products.
He said scientists have developed and released GMOs in Nigeria, including cotton and cowpea, noting that the technologies were now safer for human consumption.
Ebegba encouraged farmers to embrace biotechnology products rather than embark on the use of chemical application inimical to human health and expose the planet to further devastation.