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Lagos Commissioner lauds agency for enlightenment on GMOs

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, has commended the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) for enlightening the public on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the country.

Participants at the workshop organised by the National Biosafety Management Agency in Lagos

The commissioner, represented by Mr Mutiu Bamidele, gave the commendation on Monday,, July 19, 2021 during a workshop organised by the NBMA in Ikeja.

Themed “Sensitisation Workshop on GMO Safety and Regulation in Nigeria”, the workshop was held in collaboration with African Biosafety Network Enterprise (ABNE).

It was to enlighten journalists on the safety of GMOs in Nigeria.

According to Abayomi, the workshop is laudable for the enlightenment of the public on the proper use of GMOs.

“It is a good development for NBMA to put this workshop together. In the past two years, there has been pandemic and a workshop like this is key for safety.

“There has been use of chemicals and disinfectants which have had negative impact on the environment so it is important that stakeholders are educated on GMO.

“The is need to be reminded and assured that the nation is not folding its hands but ensuring safety of Nigerians,” he said.

Also, the Director General, NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba, said there had been lots of miscommunication in the public domain regarding the state of biosafety in the country.

“Since coming into existence, the NBMA has put in place regulations, guidelines and policies to ensure that the products of modern technology (GMOs) can be deployed safely in Nigeria.

“This workshop is also aimed at updating the general public on the activities of the Federal Government in the area of Biosafety management in Nigeria.

“Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind, that is why the federal government, through NBMA, makes sure it approves only safe application of modern biotechnology,” he said.

Ebegba said that the federal government, through the NBMA, was poised to protect the health of its citizens and the environment.

He said this was done by providing case by case analysis of GMOs on the potential risk that may be associated.

The DG said that the agency was also in partnership with sister agencies on surveillance and monitoring to ensure that the Nigerian borders were well monitored in case of any unapproved GM import.

Dr. Jeremy Ouedraogo, Head, African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), represented by Mrs Modupe Adeyemo, commended participants for attending the workshop.

Ouedraogo said that ABNE was a service network that partnered with national institutions and other biosafety initiatives.

She said that ABNE worked closely with NBMA to provide support in building functional regulatory systems for science-based, informed and timely decision making in line with best practices.

“This sensitisation forum is yet another impactful initiative, educating key stakeholders on biosafety regulation.

“This notable action will enhance effective regulation, driven by meaningful multi-sectoral collaboration for the benefit of the people,” she said.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Mrs Abisola Olusanya, who was represented by Mr Saba Gbolahan, also said that biosafety to agriculture was of great returns.

“The sensitisation will go a long way in allaying the fears of many. What we have been practicing needs to improve, and with biotechnology, we can do much more.” he said.

The  workshop, which featured 26 participants, had presentations on The Role of Media in Biosafety Communication and Global Biosafety Practice.

Other topics discussed were GM Food Safety, Modern Biotechnology and Use of Biosafety for Socio-economic Development.

By Henry Oladele and Mateen Badru

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