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Friday, July 9, 2021


The Director General, National Biotechnology Development Agency, Prof. Abdullahi Musttapha ( six from the left) and the DG National Biosafety Management Agency, Dr. Rufus Ebegba flanked by other Participants at the Sensitization workshop in Abuja.

By Ada Achanya

The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), has sensitised staff of the Federal Competition Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) on accurate and detailed information about Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and their products currently available in Nigeria.

At the opening session of a sensitization workshop organized by the agency in collaborating with her partners, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and Program for Biosafety System ( PBS), the NABDA director general/ CEO Prof Abdullahi Mustaph spoke on the need to provide accurate and up to date information about advances in the biotechnology sector since its adoption in Nigeria in order to acquaint FCCPC staff with facts about GMOs so as to effectively disseminate same to the public.

" With the growing concern about the environmental impact of large scale use of insecticides and pesticides and the campaign launched to reduce the use of chemicals, biotechnology application provides a ready substitute. Transgenic plants that are resistant to pesticides can play important role in reducing the use of these chemicals.

" Plant varieties resistant to insects (Bt Cowpea and Bt Cotton) can help to cut down the total amount of insecticides used, this in turn can improve environmental quality . In addition, some transgenic plants can produce higher level of certain crucial nutrients which can improve the nutritional quality of foods. Thus the place of transgenic crops in our food production endeavor is enormous.

" Notwithstanding, the fore going benefits, there are still dissenting voices concerning the desirability of encouraging the growth of transgenic plants. They hold the opinion that it can have an adverse impact on the natural environment, ecosystem and biosafety".

How ever current rate of extinction in the world today calls for timely intervention to conserves species that can thrive in harsh environmental conditions, he added.

In the executive vice chairman's remarks of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera who was represented by the executive commissioner Adamu Abdullahi , he said the work is very important bearing in mind the many controversies surrounding GMOs and their products, especially the perceived safety concerns of some consumers globally and nationally which may be due to ignorance or otherwise.

He emphasized saying the workshop is expected to ensure the discharge of the commission's mandates to promote and protect the rights of consumers to information, choice and so on as its pertains to GMOs as well as ensuring a level playing field for businesses to thrive by promoting competitiveness thereby dismantling monopoly.

Dr Adamu said, it is the responsibility of the commission to ensure consumers have the right to full disclosure of information on products purchased and consumed , hence GM foods must be labeled to promote choice on informed basis as already enshrined in National Biosafety Implementation Regulations of 2017.

The commission could not carry out the role of effective sensitization on GM foods Nationwide on consumers alone. He pointed out the need to equally sensitize relevant and credible Consumer Protection Association (CPSs) especially those registered with the commission that will serve as foot soldiers to take the messages to the hooks and crannies of the nation, saying support was needed in that regard.

Earlier at the workshop, the NBMA director general/ CEO, Dr Rufus Ebegba said the agency recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with FCCPC to ensure smooth collaboration in regulation of GMOs and their products for consumer safety.

"Government wants to use modern biotechnology to drive the economy. So as an agency our responsibility is to regulates, to make sure that the products are safe to the environment and human health" he added.

In her remark, the Country Coordinator of Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology Dr. Rose Gidado said the objective of the workshop is to provide accurate and up to date information about advances made in the area of biotechnology in Nigeria since its adoption to enable FCCPC staff fully acquitted with facts about GMO and effectively disseminate same to the public.

Dr. Gidado who is also the deputy director at NABDA, said they included efficient understanding of the scientific aspects of biotechnology, risk assessment and risk management.

" The justification is for the need for safe biotech application especially I'm Agriculture because this is where we have issues to get the map in improving productivity in Nigeria, quality of food crops and income for farmers as well as getting access to food that are highly nutritious".

Speaking at the workshop, the DG of National Agricultural Seed Council Dr P. O Ojo, said the agency works to make sure the high crops varieties are maintained through seed modifications term to deliver the varieties of the products to farmers and the assurance of safety of modern biotechnology to the environment and consumers are very paramount.

Dr. Ojo added saying this workshop will go a long way to end Nigeria consumer trust to use this products and to improve the livelihood of farmers and consumers alike.

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