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GMO foods approved for consumption in Nigeria safe – NBMA

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) said the current scientific consensus supported by the agency is that Genetically Modified foods approved for consumption in Nigeria are safe.

Director-General of the NBMA, Dr Agnes Asagbra, made the submission on Thursday in Abuja at a World News Conference on GM Technology in Agriculture.

She reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to Nigerians on the safety of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

“While concerns exist about long-term effects, the current scientific consensus supported by the NBMA is that GMO foods approved for consumption in Nigeria are safe.

“We are committed to ensuring the safety and responsible regulation of GMOs in Nigeria, according to Section 43 of the NBMA Act, 2015 as amended; GMOs are organisms living or non-living.

“This is because rigorous risk assessments guide our decisions; before granting approvals for any genetically modified organism (GMO), NBMA conducts rigorous risk assessments.”

Dr Asagbra explained that GMOs were novel genetic material obtained through modern biotechnology which allowed the enhancement of crop traits, improved yields and addresses agricultural challenges.

“The NBMA is Nigeria’s sole authority on biosafety matters; we enforce standards, guidelines and risk assessment procedures for GMOs.

“Our commitment is rooted in the NBMA Act and its regulations. These assessments evaluate potential risks to human health, the environment and biodiversity, the process involves scientific experts who analyse data, conduct experiments and assess the safety of the GMO in question.

“NBMA considers factors such as allergenicity, toxicity, and unintended effects resulting from genetic modifications GMOs undergo thorough evaluation before approval.

“We consider their impact on human health, animal welfare and the environment; our goal is to strike a balance between innovation and safety.”

According to her, public consultations, workshops and information dissemination play a crucial role to enable citizens to have the opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions.

“NBMA relies on scientific consensus to make informed decisions.

“This consensus is based on extensive research, peer-reviewed studies, and expert opinions; independent scientific bodies, both nationally and internationally, contribute to this consensus.’’

She said that NBMA did not stop at approval as it monitored GMOs even after they entered the market.

The NBMA boss said that surveillance systems tracked their impact on health, the environment and biodiversity.

“NBMA aligns its practices with global standards. It consults with international bodies, such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to harness the benefits of modern biotechnology,” Asagbra said.

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