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FG set to fight smuggling of GMO products, deploys kits to borders

National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) is set to deploy detection kits to Nigeria’s borders to check the influx of smuggled Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO).

No GMO would be allowed into Nigerian market with the authorization of the Agency.

Dr Rufus Ebegba, the Director-General, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), said the agency would hand over violators of GMO products to the appropriate authorities for prosecution.

Ebegba said at a News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum on Wednesday in Abuja that the penalty for such offence was five years imprisonment.

“The agency ensures compliance with the legal obligations set forth in the Biosafety Act and inspects facilities, collects and analyses sample materials and conducts activities of GMOs as covered by the Biosafety Act.

“If you must import or grow GMOs, they must be analysed at our laboratory, certified and labelled.

“Our mandate is to ensure adequate level of protection in the field of safe transfer, handling and use of GMOs resulting from modern biotechnology.

“NBMA is working to enforce the Nigerian laws and as well as to make sure that the international acceptable standards are met.’’

Ebegba said that during the routine activities, the agency discovered some GMO suspects that were not certified at some of the department stores in the country.

“The essence is to ensure that no genetically modified organism product that was not tested would find its way into the nation`s markets.

“We must streamline imported products and to strengthen the fact that Nigeria should not serve as a dumping ground for all kinds of GM foods.

“We must ascertain their status before they are allowed to be sold and the intention is not to target any organisation.’’

He said although most genetically modified foods from other countries were certified, relevant agencies in Nigeria must do the needful to ensure its own certification, to be double sure of what was coming in.

“Nigerians do not need to worry; there is no cause for alarm, and the agency will make sure that things are done right in this country.

“One thing that I want people to understand is that we are not saying that genetically modified organisms are bad but to be sure that what we are consuming are safe.

“I want to tell Nigerians that they should not panic; they should be rest assured that there is no genetically modified foods that are released in this country that is not safe.

He said that Nigerians should learn to trust and support government agencies established to protect the nation, its people and environment.

They should leave the issue of GMOs safety to us; eat what has been certified, even though it’s a matter of choice,’’ Ebegba said.

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