National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with two agencies in efforts to regulate the use of genetically modified organisms and products in the country.
A statement issued by NBMA in Abuja said that the agencies were the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) and the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC).
NBMA Director-General Rufus Ebegba said that the MoU presented to the three agencies the needed platform for synergy and opportunity to fast-track the management of issues of genetic modification to safeguard the health of Nigerians and the environment.
He said that the MoU remained a landmark development in the management of Biosafety issues in the country, as it would empower the agencies to speak with one voice on Biosafety issues.
“The controversy surrounding GMOs will not abate soon; therefore, it is important for us, as government, to work together and be courageous to say the truth without fear or favour. NBMA does not promote GMOs but promotes safety measures that will ensure the overall wellbeing of Nigerians,’’ he added.
Also, NAQS Coordinating Director, Dr Vincent Iselgbe, acknowledged the vital role which NBMA was playing in safeguarding the health of Nigerians.
“The existence of the NBMA is vital for our country and the agency is in the forefront of protecting the health of Nigerians, as well as the environment. The country’s agriculture is currently saddled with challenges such as armyworm and other pest infestations. These developments reinforce the need for all to support the NBMA in carrying out its mandate,” he said.
Iselgbe said the MoU provided the necessary framework for NAQS to collaborate with NBMA as far as import and export of GMOs were concerned.
Also, Dr Phillip Ojo, Director-General of NASC, said that the National Seed Policy recognised the place of GM seeds; hence the need for the council to work closely with NBMA in regulating the nation’s seed industry.
The MoU, which took into cognisance the mandates of the collaborating agencies, specified areas of partnership in the import and export of GM products, as well as seed multiplication, commercialisation and handling.