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The fear, real or imagined, of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) based food in Nigeria, appears to have been heightened in recent time, particularly with the widely reported permit granted for cultivation of GM beans. Rufus Ebegba, director general, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), addressed some of these concerns in an exclusive interview with Caleb Ojewale, highlighting processes in place to detect unapproved GMO and ensure they are not consumed.
What has the agency been doing to regulate GMO food in Nigeria?
The National Biosafety Management Agency was established in the year 2015. Our purpose is to ensure that the activities of modern biotechnology and the use of its products that are genetically modified do not have any adverse effect on the environment and human health.
The agency has the mandate to regulate genetic engineering and its products. In doing this, we look at safety from two angles, one, to the environment, and the other, to human health.
In the area of environment, we make sure that any genetically modified organism, before it can be confirmed safe for any purpose, will not cause harm to the environment. We ensure living organisms in the area it will be deployed will not be threatened, and for the genetically modified organisms not to become dominant or invasive that it causes total eradication of other living organisms.
Also, if the genetic modification is for specific target, it must not go beyond that target. For instance, if it is for insect or pest resistance, it must not affect other insects but specific to that particular insect posing a threat to it. Also, we ensure genetically modified organisms do not become super organisms that will now make other organisms uncomfortable or even human beings. We also look at the safety … Read More...