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Biosafety agency says it’s deploying safe modern biotechnology to protect lives

The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) says it is deploying safe modern biotechnology applications in its operations to protect Nigerians and the environment from any adverse impact on human health and the environment.

Dr Rufus Ebegba
Dr Rufus Ebegba, Director General, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA)

Director-General/CEO of NMBA, Dr Rufus Ebegba, said this on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 in Abuja at a news briefing on the state of biosafety in Nigeria.

Ebegba noted that NBMA was not created to stop GMOs but to ensure that Nigerians and the environment were safe from any adverse impact they might have on human health and the environment.

“A lot of misinformation has been going round the public especially in the media space.

“Some people have taken it upon themselves to misinform Nigerians and backlash the Agency for doing its job and fulfilling its mandate of managing biosafety matters in Nigeria.

“It is important to state here that the NBMA is charged with the responsibility of providing regulatory framework, institutional and administrative mechanism for safety measures in the application of modern biotechnology in Nigeria.

“It is also responsible for preventing its adverse effects on human health, animals, plants and environment,’’ he emphasised.

According to him, safe science and technology are known to be drivers of economic change the world over, and Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind.

This, he said, was why the Federal Government, through NBMA, made sure it approved the only safe application of modern biotechnology for the economic development of the country, particularly in the agricultural sector.

Ebegba explained that NBMA had not been resting on its oars in ensuring that only safe and approved genetically modified seeds and grains for food and feed processing are allowed into the Nigerian market.

“I want to restate here that the fruits and beans available in the Nigerian market presently are not genetically modified as insinuated rather they are either hybrids or improved.

“The Federal Government, through NBMA, is always poised to protect the health of its citizens and the environment by providing case by case analysis of GMO and risk assessments.

“Since the inception of the National Biosafety Management Agency in 2015, the obvious impact of the Nigerian Biosafety Authority has been felt all over the globe.

“From the decision to approve Bt Cotton for environmental release in 2016 to the decision to approve PBR Cowpea for environmental release in 2019, NBMA has also made decisions based on scientific facts for the benefit of the Nigerian people.

“Our activities that have not gone unnoticed in Africa, they have not gone unnoticed worldwide,” he added.

Ebegba said that was why the Nigerian biosafety system was well sought after in Africa and the world.

NBMA regulations and guidelines, he said, have become models that other countries use in developing their own guidelines and regulations.

He also said that as part of efforts to expand the agency’s monitoring and surveillance, it has signed various MoUs with some sister agencies such as the Standards Organisation of Nigeria and the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service.

Others are the National Seed Council and the Nigerian Customs Service towards ensuring that Nigerian borders are well monitored in case of any unapproved GM import.

By Patience Omoha

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