Nigeria’s Biosafety Agency says genetically modified foods are safe for consumption

The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has stated that the current scientific consensus, which the agency supports, confirms that genetically modified foods approved for consumption in Nigeria are safe.

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

She reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to ensuring the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for Nigerians.

Asagbra explained that GMOs are novel genetic materials obtained through modern biotechnology, which allows for the enhancement of crop traits, improved yields, and the addressing of agricultural challenges.

She stated, “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.”

“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.’’

Asagbra emphasized that public consultations, workshops, and information dissemination are crucial for enabling citizens to voice concerns and ask questions. She stated that the NBMA relies on scientific consensus, which is based on extensive research, peer-reviewed studies, and expert opinions from both national and international independent scientific bodies, to make informed decisions.

Asagbra also mentioned that the NBMA continues to monitor GMOs even after their market approval. She highlighted that surveillance systems are in place to track their impact on health, the environment, and biodiversity.

Furthermore, she noted that the NBMA aligns its practices with global standards by consulting with international bodies such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to maximize the benefits of modern biotechnology.

What you should know

Members of the public have expressed concern with the recent approval of GM maize variety (Tela maize) for commercial cultivation across the country.

The Health of Mother Earth Foundation described the federal government’s approval of the Tela maize variety- a wrong idea on food security stating that there is no evidence of a risk assessment conducted before the release of the TELA Maize on the website of the National Biosafety Management Agency (the agency saddled with the responsibility of regulating the uses of GMOs).


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