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GMO foods not in Nigerian markets, says govt

The Senior Adviser on Food Security and Nutrition, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Adeyinka Onabolu, has reiterated that the Federal Government is currently not pushing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into the Nigerian market.

GMOs
GMOs

Adeyinka said this on Thursday, May 9, 2019 at a news conference during the inauguration of a Food, Planet and Health report in Nigeria by the EAT-Lancet Commission.

The EAT-Lancet Commission is an NGO playing a central role in putting food, health and sustainability on global agenda with “an appetite for over-sized impact’’.

Onabolu said that although there had been efforts over time by the government using normal breeding techniques to improve agricultural productivity.

“Crops like the orange flared potatoes are manipulated crops of genes, but not genetically modified as the whole country is running away from,” she said.

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She said that Nigeria’s agricultural sector on food security and nutrition strategy was prioritising nutrition and of Nigerians by mainstreaming nutrition into the chains of agriculture in the country.

The Nigeria Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has also faulted reports that it had approved the distribution of genetically modified foods in the country.

It was, however, gathered that the GMOs had been approved for commercial release by NBMA, but will still need to undergo other instant procedures at the National Seed Service, under the Ministry of Agriculture. Consequently, the GMOs are deemed as not yet in the market.

Mr Michael Ojo, Country Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), an NGO, urged the Federal Government to formulate and focus on policies and strategies to encourage Nigerians on healthy diets.

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He said that such policies, when formulated would build the culture of healthy dieting in homes, curb hunger and eradicate malnutrition and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) leading to sustainable and healthy food system in the country.

According to him, there is need to produce mixture of food for the Nigeria’s growing population, projected to be the third largest in the world by 2050.

“This is because there has been increased global attention on addressing malnutrition using food systems approach, which has the potential for far-reaching impact, especially for the most vulnerable,” he said.

He said that the food systems would determine the quality of people’s diet at the household level, shaping the demand, availability, affordability and desirability of safe and nutritious food.

Dr Chris Isokpunwu, the Head of Nutrition, Federal Ministry of Health, said that the scaling up nutrition movement focal point for the country was part of the functions of the ministry.

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He said that the movement had different networks that feed into it, adding that one of the essential networks were the Scaling up Nutrition Business Network, anchored by GAIN.

“We engage with GAIN and other partners in the various networks on areas like the micro-nutrient deficiency control and in infant and young child feeding and health.’’

Dr Ogunmolewa Ogunmolewa, a farmer and food fortification expert and consultant, urged farmers to gather and share information that would boost planting and production of varied nutrient-rich crops.

He appealed to stakeholders in food, nutrition, health, agriculture and environment to engage both private and government agencies to ensure a broadened knowledge around food and nutrition security for both consumers and farmers.

By Diana Omueza

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