GMOs: NBMA commences analysis of suspected products, strengthen ties with Customs

INSETS: Rufus Ebegba, Director General, NBMA and Bishop Anselem Umorem

Scientists at the National Biosafety Management Agency GMO Detection Laboratory, this week in Abuja, commenced the analysis of selected products in the nations superstores suspected to contain genetically modified ingredients.

The analysis followed a three-month GMO survey conducted by the Agency which, among other findings, showed the presence of products, in superstores across the country, containing genetically modified ingredients.

Some of the products have labels showing ingredients contained therein while others do not, hence the need to carry out an in depth analysis to ascertain the true type of genetic materials and their makeup, and to ensure that it is safe for Nigerians to consume.

Miss Amedu Josephine, Head of GMO Analysis Laboratory, NBMA, while giving an overview of the exercise noted that “we do have some foods on our shelves that are said to be GM. Our work here is to ensure that it is actually GM and find out the genetic component that describes the GM material.

“We also have to be sure that the sequence that have been inserted is not one that will be detrimental to the health of Nigerians, which is why we want to be sure that everything that is genetically modified within the borders of Nigeria are safe for public consumption.

Miss Amedu urged Nigerians to have faith in the ability of scientists working in the Agency to protect and safeguard their health by been prudent in the discharge of their duties.

The GMO analysis laboratory, a state of the art facility was acquired by the agency in 2016 as part of its resolve to diligently carryout meticulous and rigorous testing of products for the safety of Nigerians.

Meanwhile, the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have met in Abuja to strengthen the working relationship between the two agencies as a way of regulating the importation of GM foods to ensure that only safe GM foods are allowed in the country.

Dr. Rufus Ebegba, DG/CEO NBMA, said at the meeting that due to the sensitivity of genetically modified organisms, it was imperative for both organs of government to work closely.

He said there is the importance for synergy between NBMA and Customs to ensure that all import approvals granted by the NBMA serve as part of the documentations that the NCS will require at entry points.

According to him, “there is a need for us to develop a central working system, where all Permits granted by NBMA can be accessed by the Customs Service.”

Dr. Ebegba listed some of the products that Customs should be particular about at the entry points, to include; soya, maize, cotton, among others.

The DG, hinted on the need by the Agency to carry out an intensive enlightenment program for the NCS so as to equip officers on the knowledge of the mandate of the NBMA.