News Column

Nigeria to Adopt Genetically Modified Crops, Says Agency

July 18, 2014

Joke Falaju

A DISCLOSURE Thursday came from the National Agricultural Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) that the Federal Government has put in place necessary regulatory guidelines to fast track the adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms (crops) (GMO).

Addressing a press conference Thursday in Abuja on the need for a Biosafety law for the adoption of Biotechnology in the country, NABDA Director General, Prof. Lucy Ogbadu, said the Federal Ministry of Environment has a Biosafety Unit with well trained staff internationally and nationally to manage Biosafety matters.

She added that the country has also developed a number of regulatory instruments which include biosafety application administration guidelines, Biosafety bill, policy, guidelines, Biosafety containment facilities guidelines, accreditation of institute application form, certification of biosafety containment facility form, confined field trial monitoring and inspection manual.

Other regulatory instrument include GMO import and shipment form, National Biosafety Risk Analysis Framework, Nigeria Biosafety Socio-economic consideration guidelines, decision document, draft biosafety regulation on GMOs import and export, draft biosafety Regulation on labeling, packaging and transport.

They also include Draft Biosafety Regulation on labelling, packaging and transport, draft biosafety regulation on GMOs commercialisation. She added that a biosafety laboratory has also been established for GMOs detection and analysis.

Calling for the quick passage of the biosafety bill, Ogbadu noted that the absence of the law has hampered research and development in modern biotechnology in the country and would enable research institutes to carry out their statutory functions.

She said: "The absence of biosafety law has made it difficult for the agency, research institutes, Federal Ministry of Environment to effectively perform its statutory functions."

She warned that the absence of biosafety law might make Nigeria a consumer nation of foreign GMO foods, particularly maize products instead of producer, thereby holding farmers hostage to those of other countries.

While not denying the presence of GMOs in the country, she said there was little the agency could do to contain the spread of GMOs in the markets.

She highlighted some of the importance of Biotechnology in the country to include increase in food supply with less farmland requirement; discovery of new medicines and vaccines diagnosis for diseases such as Alzheimer, cystic, fibrosis, cancer, HIV/AIDs and also clean up of oil spills, prevention of deforestation, provision of eco-friendly materials.

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Source: AllAfrica

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