Abuja – The National Bio-technology Development Agency (NABDA) says it is illegal for Nigerian scientists to import any Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) “wholesale’’ without an existing regulatory framework.
The Director-General of NABDA, Prof. Lucy Ugbado, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Ugbado said that the National Biosafety Act – the legal framework to check the activities of modern biotechnology in the country – was signed into law only last year.
According to her, the legal framework will help check the activities of modern biotechnology in the country, as well as the importation of genetically modified (GM) crops in Nigeria, including the provision of an avenue to engage Nigerian scientists/experts from different fields to identify and pursue solutions to our local challenges.
“To be able to practice in this area, the regulatory framework must be in place.
“It is illegal for any scientist to practice in an atmosphere without regulatory framework.
“So, it was only passed last year, and it is after that that Nigerian scientist can now begin to practice.
“This regulatory framework requires that you cannot bring in any genetically modified organism wholesale into a new environment without adapting it to that environment, without ensuring that it is acceptable in that environment .
“That is exactly what our scientists are doing with this product that are in the pipeline already but as for commercial release there is not a single genetically modified organism in the market.’’
The director-general stated that NABDA is positioned to regulate the management of modern bio-technology in the country.
“The National Bio-safety Management Agency is well-equipped with personnel, staff that are well trained to ensure that due process is followed in the acceptance of any product into the Nigerian system and their requirement ensures that they look at three (3) basic sector of risk assessment:
“The food safety, the environmental impact of whatever you are bring into the system and the socio-economic impact of that product on the system and they are well prepared, they have their guidelines in place to ensure that due process is followed in the release of any genetically modified product.’’
Ugbado therefore called on the public to have faith in the agencies that would be set up by government to ensure that the country was not left behind in the management of modern bio-technology.
It will be recalled that Nigeria joined the league of biotechnology countries when President Goodluck Jonathan signed the National Biosafety Agency Bill on April 21, 2015.
Following the signing of the bill, NBDA said the Biosafety Act was crucial to the management of modern biotechnology in the country.
The agency also said the Act would create more employment and boost food production if given attention by government. (NAN)