NBMA debunks rumour of GM mangoes, cassava in circulation

Cassava harvest

The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has described as untrue, rumour of Genetically Modified (GM) mangoes, grape fruits, cassava and others in Nigerian markets, noting that the claim is completely false and an indication of ignorance.

Director General/CEO of the agency, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, who accused a Radio station based in Abuja of spreading the false news, disclosed that the commercially approved GM crops globally are cotton, eggplant, corn (maize), poplar, canola, soybean, flower colour carnation, flower colour petunia, flower colour rose, papaya, RR canola, and potato, which are not currently officially in the market.

He noted that though approvals have been given for the commercial release of the crops, they still have to undergo other instant procedures through the Variety Release Committee and the National Seed Service.

He said: “In Nigeria, NBMA has only granted permit for commercial release of Bt Cotton insect resistant and Bt Cowpea modified for resistance to Maruca insect pest. Again, although approval has been given for commercial release of these crops, they are not yet in the market, as they will have to go through other extant procedures of the nation. Other approvals given are, for the importation of GM soybeans and GM Maize for food and feed processing.

“I wish to re-emphasize, that the absence of a Biosafety system will amount to dumping of unauthorized GM into the country with its attendant adverse effect to human, animal, environment and the economy.”

Ebegba said those calling for scrapping of the NBMA are directly paving way for dumping of GMOs in the country, enriching the countries from which these crops are imported, weakening the potentials of the country’s scientists in the sector and do not have the interest of the public at heart, as they claim.

“The process for granting permits is very rigorous and hectic. Independent committees are set for this purpose and these committees go through the application carefully before a recommendation is made to the agency. These two committees (the National Biosafety Committee NBC and the National Biosafety technical sub-committee, NBTS) made up of professionals and experts from the academia, line government agencies, civil society groups and other stakeholders are constituted to painstakingly analyse the applications, review the risk management and risk assessment plans before a decision is made. These decisions are never rushed at any point in time.

“The agency will continue to ensure that only safe GMOs will be allowed either for planting, consumption or processing in Nigeria as we have full structural and human capacity to ensure the safety of Nigerians in the use of genetically modified organisms and application of Modern Biotechnology,” he said.

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