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No difference between GMO foods, non GMOs — Expert

Dr. Rose Gidado, Country Coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) says no differences exist between genetically modified foods (GMO) and non GMO foods.

Gidado, who is also Deputy Director, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Thursday in Abuja.

According to her the only characterization is the gene or traits that have been introduced.

The Scientist disclosed that one of the primary requirements of commercialising a genetically modified (GM) crop is the proof of its substantial equivalence with its known counterpart.

She stressed that substantial equivalence means that a new product such as a GM crop must be the same as the non-GM crop.

According to her, this is so, except for the traits that were enhanced, added or removed through genetic engineering.

Gidado said that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an intergovernmental organisation that promotes policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

OECD is in alliance with other global institutions such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), which was founded by Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and World Health Organisation (WHO).

Together, they developed food standards, guidelines, codes of practices as well as other relevant documents under the FAO-WHO Food Standards Programme.

“The aim, which was to protect consumers’ health and fair food trade, strongly underscored the concept of substantial equivalence as a key step in the safety assessment process of any GM crop,’’ Gidado said.

She noted that some Research Scientists had also highlighted that organic foods have a shorter shelf life when compared to GMO foods and may also have higher bacteria levels.

Accordingly, she said the higher bacterial levels are due to limited pesticide and herbicide usage in addition to the fact that organic foods are significantly more expensive than GMO or non-GMO foods.

Gidado, highlighting the advantages of natural fruits and the GMO fruits, said GMO fruits offer lower price point for consumers, while natural fruits have zero application of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers.

“GMO fruits have lower production costs for farmers and natural fruits have healthier soil through organic farming practices such as crop rotation, pasture grazing and mulch.

“GMO fruits also have greater durability and nutritional value for health benefits, increased resistance among crops to plant diseases caused by insects or virus.

“GMO fruits are tastier and more nutritious, with increased supply of food with reduced costs and longer shelf life,’’ she said.

The OFAB Nigeria Coordinator also said that GMO fruits are medicinal foods that could be used as vaccines or other medicines.

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