The Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Professor Abdullahi Mustapha has said that the application of biotechnology in agriculture has put Nigeria on the path to attaining food and nutrition security.
Professor Mustapha noted that this became feasible following the commercialization of the released Bt Cotton and Bt Cowpea which are genetically modified.
Speaking at the 6th Edition of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) media award and gala nite, the NABDA boss acknowledged the role of media in the progress the country has made in biotechnology adoption.
He said no technology development has ever succeeded anywhere in the world without the media playing a very significant role in leading to its propagation and ensuring its acceptance.
He, however, identified misinformation as a factor slowing the full attainment of food security using biotechnology.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that Nigeria is on the path to attaining food and nutrition security with the recorded progress in the commercialization of Bt Cotton and Bt Cowpea.
“However, one of the identified challenges debarring Nigeria’s attainment of food security is widespread technophobia.
“This largely results from misinformation. Many well-meaning Nigerians are unaware of the benefits of biotechnology.
“Others are misinformed about it, while some have embraced conspiracy theories alleging that biotechnology is aimed at reducing the human population”, Professor Mustapha said.
He, therefore, charged the media to continuously prioritize the dissemination of fact-based information about biotechnology and counter popular myths that do not fuel national progress.
“Objective dissemination of scientific facts will significantly make the business environment more friendly and accommodating, spur investments in biotechnology and aid rapid commercialization of research findings”, he added.
In her address, the country coordinator, OFAB Nigeria chapter, Dr Rose Gidado said the media award was instituted to ensure that journalists reporting on the subject matters are exposed to best practices in the profession.
“The sixth edition of the award recognizes exemplary journalism that stimulates best practices in the adoption of agricultural technologies, particularly agricultural biotechnology.
“Therefore, it seeks to recognize outstanding journalists in all media genres involved in the coverage of agric biotech stories in Sub-Saharan Africa with the objective to appreciate their contribution in promoting sustainable agricultural technologies,” she said.
Dr Gidado further stated that the award also celebrates and promotes innovative best practices in agricultural biotechnology and other agricultural technologies that address challenges of food insecurity, climate change, and sustainable development.
“In the last six years, OFAB has continued to recognize outstanding journalists from its operating countries Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, and Rwanda including Nigeria for their coverage of agricultural biotechnology and its benefits to mankind,” she noted.
She further noted that OFAB has succeeded in pushing the anti-GM crusaders out of the mainstream media in Nigeria, they now rely on emails and few online new sites to misinform Nigeria.
“We are confident that the impact of our advocacy and campaign will become so clear to all that the antis will not be accepted or accommodated any longer,” Gidado added.
ALSO READ FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE