Government begins enforcement on GMO rice

Dr. Rufus Ebegba

Dr. Rufus Ebegba

Threatens to shut research institute

The Federal Government has begun visiting research institutes that conduct field trials on genetically modified rice.

The move, according to officials, was to ensure strict compliance with extant laws.

Director-General of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba, gave the warning during a visit to the National Cereal Research Institute, Badeggi, Niger State. He warned that the agency would seal off any research centre that fails to adhere to laid down protocols.

He assured that nobody would be forced to consume any genetically modified products, threatening to shut the cereal institute if it fails the next round of preliminary trials on GMO rice.

He remarked: “If there is any breach in trial, we would seal off and burn all materials associated with it. We are here for total compliance because it is very important for Nigerian farmers and others.

“We are visiting GMO rice-accredited field sites for total compliance. The trials are very important and we are doing all these for the interest of Nigerians,” he remarked.

Ebegba hinted that research into that special brand rice would take between four to five years to conclude, noting that the varieties that may eventually be approved would be able to withstand drought.

“With biotechnology, we can identify the local genes of a crop and put them into commercial use. There will be continued scientific tests and it may take four to five years before the release.”

He, therefore, explained that the nature of soil and technical errors were responsible for the failure of the last field trials on GMO rice, stressing that if the structures were not well placed, they could lead to contamination of seeds’ experimenting.



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