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TELA maize is safe, biosafety agency assures Nigerians

The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has acknowledged the fact that there are concerns and misinformation circulating about the recent approval and launch of TELA maize in Nigeria.

TELA Maize
Dr Muyideen Oyekunle, Breeder, in charge of Trait and Pipeline Testing, TELA Maize Project displaying harvested maize crops at IAR TELA Maize CFT, Zaria. Photo Credit: AATF

Saying that maize is a staple crop that is of great importance to the country, NBMA noted that it is committed to ensuring transparency, safety, and unbiased decision-making regarding genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

“NBMA wishes to state here that the safety and health of Nigerians is of topmost priority, and we will not compromise on this. The agency has done a proper risk assessment and analysis to ensure the safety of this product for human health and the environment,” the organisation disclosed in a statement issued on Monday, June 24, 2024.

It added: “The application for TELA maize was thoroughly examined by two committees comprising experts and scientists from relevant agencies and the academia, namely National Agency for Food and  Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), National Agricultural Seed Council (NASCs), universities and research institutions, among others, who are renowned professionals in the particular field and our internal review process confirmed that TELA maize meets safety standards.

“This ensures that the regulatory oversight of GMOs by NBMA meets strict safety standards and poses no adverse risks to health or the environment.

“NBMA acknowledges that there have been misleading claims about TELA maize, including allegations that it is fake and laced with insecticides/pesticides. These claims are not based on scientific evidence and are designed to create unnecessary fear and panic in the country as TELA maize was developed by Nigerian scientists in the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) and these scientists and researchers took into cognisance the challenge farmers have faced over the years in the planting of maize. This maize variety rather reduces the use of pesticides while boosting productivity thereby having better health benefits.

“We wish to assure Nigerians that this maize variety has been certified to be as safe as its organic or conventional counterpart as there are no chemicals or insecticides laced in them as claimed by some groups in Nigeria.

“The NBMA operates independently and without bias as our decisions are guided by scientific evidence, international best practices, and with the well-being of Nigerians in mind.

“TELA maize was modified for insect resistance and drought tolerance and our risk assessment considered exposure to the environment, nutritional composition, and potential impacts on biological diversity.

“We also wish to state here that TELA is cultivated naturally, and we are confident that TELA maize poses no harm to humans or the environment.

“We urge all Nigerians to remain calm and trust in the rigorous evaluation process. TELA maize has been approved based on scientific evidence, and its benefits to farmers are significant.

“The health and safety of Nigerians remain our topmost concern. We encourage open dialogue, scientific literacy, and evidence-based discussions. Let us work together to ensure food security, sustainable agriculture, and informed decision-making in Nigeria.”

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