Genetically Modified foods’ safety, a collective responsibility – Official

Analysis of the safety assessment of Genetically Modified foods and feeds to be consumed in Nigeria is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders. Dr. Rufus Ebegba, the Director-General, National Bio safety Management Agency (NBMA), said in Abuja.

He said the analysis  must provide answers to questions globally raised on GM Foods and feeds.

He also said the agency is open to all stakeholders who are willing to work together with it to make sure that Nigeria does not become a dumping ground for GM foods.“We recently organized a workshop that encouraged effective collaboration with other regulatory Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on GM foods and feed safety assessment. This is part of our effort to keep Nigerians abreast of laid down internationally accepted procedures for verification of GM foods and Feed Safety; and determine the future activities to build necessary capacity in the Nigeria biosafety regulatory system,’’ he said.

Ebegba said that stakeholders’ efforts should be geared towards working in synergy for the common interest of Nigerians.“This will help us maintain the status of Food and Feed Safety Assessment Guidelines, and local and global regulatory data requirements for commercial products when adopting new GM technology.

We have an excellent working relationship with, and Memorandums of Understanding with agencies like NAFDAC, SON, the Nigerian Customs Services, NABDA, ARCN, Ministries of Environment, Health and others’’, he stated.

The director general assured Nigerians that the country is safe and there is no cause for alarm as no unhealthy GM food would be allowed into the country.“To date, all genes used in GM crops produce proteins that have history of safe use have also been shown to be substantially equivalent to their conventional counterparts.And repeated dose studies with the GM crops have shown no changes compared to the conventional crops. Also dietary risk assessment has been carried out to determine any potential risks of GMOs at the maximum levels consumed,’’ he said.

He noted that acute toxicity assessments were carried out to ensure safety of proteins used in genetic engineering.

He explained that studies did not show any toxicity of the proteins or bio accumulation of GMOs in consumers. He also said the NBMA is ready to regulate modern biotechnology to make sure it is safe.