Dr Rufus Ebegba, NBMA Director-General, who gave the assurance in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Friday in Abuja, said Nigeria would not become a dumping ground for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Ebegba said the agency would ensure that the socio-economic consequences of modern biotechnology use and handling of GMOs and GM products were guarded against.
“One of our legacies is that we have built confidence in the practice of modern biotechnology, use and handling of GMOs and GM products.
” The agency will continue to ensure the proper regulation of imported GM products.
“Other African countries look up to Nigeria for leadership in biosafety issues, so we cannot fail.”
He said Nigeria would continue to reaffirm its commitment to the principles of international Agreements and Treaties to Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Cartagena Protocol and Biosafety (CPB).
Ebegba, however, said one of the challenges of the agency was inadequate public awareness,which had resulted in lack of public understanding of the concept of biosafety and its potential benefit to national growth.
The NBMA boss added that anti-GMOs lobbyists and anti-GM movement were on the increase, aggressively misinforming and misleading stakeholders.
“Misrepresentation of the agency’s mandate and activities by third party influences has led to misguided perception of the mandate and activities of the agency and continuous attacks by some activists,” the director-general said.
He further said that increased and prompt appropriation of funds would help increase the pace of work of the agency as well as improve its overall performance.
Ebegba said the agency’s new focus would be on routine biosafety surveillance and risk assessment; capacity building for staff and stakeholders; development of national policy on biosecurity and national biosecurity emergency response strategy.
“There will be continuous inspection and monitoring of GM facilities as well as survey of GMOs and their products in circulation to ensure biosafety compliance.
“Organisation of trainings and enlightenment programmes on emerging biotechnology, such as gene drive, gene editing, gene sequencing and biosecurity as well as mainstreaming same into national agenda,” he added.
Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Obike Ukoh (NAN)
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