Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr Rufus Ebegba, has said that the issue of the adoption of safe modern biotechnology products to ensure food security and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic is key to the development of the country.
The Director General said this on Friday, June 19, 2020 during a webinar series themed: “COVID-19: Effects on food security and the use of Genetically Modified products toward food sustainability”
Ebegba said: “With the advent of COVID-19, there has been a lot of challenges which has impacted negatively on food security, the world has been thrown into confusion, social security system has broken down, the issue of health system has been highly negatively impacted and food security has been trampled upon.
“Farmers are finding it difficult at this time because there are fewer farming hands, movement of food and crops from various places to another is also delayed due to the impact of COVID-19 on the transportation system. These challenges can be overcome through the safe application of modern biotechnology products.”
He said modern biotechnology tools that have been confirmed safe have been used to produce crops that can aid farmers and boost food production and it is very important at this critical time for farmers to adopt modern biotechnology crops that have been approved and its safety ensured.
The DG/CEO said: “Nigerians should take advantage of the laid down government policies on food production as the NBMA has a major role which is to ensure that farmers use safe seeds that have been approved for cultivation.”
He said the use of modern biotechnology tools must go with biosafety application as biosafety compliance is very important, noting that, with the pandemic, it has become very evident that safe technologies are very key in addressing national and international issues.
“The federal government’s effort in establishing the National Biosafety Management Agency is a major achievement in the bid to boost food production and ensuring food security and this administration has supported the NBMA to effectively discharge its duty and deliver on its mandate.
“Due to the existence of the NBMA, Nigerians have been enlightened on the issue of genetically modified organisms and a lot of misinformation has been dealt with as the agency has been able to carry out series of enlightenment campaigns and programmes on our activities and mandate.
“We have been able to assure Nigerians that GM products will be tested for safety right from the developing stage before it even goes into the market as the agency has continually carried risk assessment to ensure that these products are safe,” he submitted.
Dr Ebegba assured Nigerians that the NBMA is not resting on its oars in ensuring that products are safe for humans and the environment even in this period the agency is on its toes in ensuring that farmers get safe products for planting in order to boost and ensure food security in the country and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are safety valves already in place and we will not work in isolation with the international community in the adoption of safe technologies that can be used to address our socio-economic improvement in the country,” he said.