THE Execution Director General/ chief Executive Officer of National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Dr. Rufus Ebegba has said safe and quality seeds can only be made available to farmers through the collaboration of relevant Agencies.
Ebegba made this disclosure at the Institutional Biosafety Committee workshop held in Abuja with the theme “Institutionalizing Biosafety Guidelines and Procedures for Production, Certification and Quality Control of GM Seeds”.
Dr Ebegba highlighted the need for the public consciousness about biosafety.
He explained that that the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) has the mandate of all new verity of seeds in the country be it Genetically Modified or not.
He said they are looking forward to a situation where some Genetically Modified seeds will be coming into the market, hence the need to train NASC officials to know how they can identify, handle and assure the safety of seeds in the market.
The NBMA boss noted that after the his Agency has certified the safety of some GM crops, and the NASC is expected to certify and approve, after due diligence on the quality of the seeds, to grant permit for the seeds that meet national standards.
Dr. Ebegba acknowledged the roles of the other agencies, such as Custom Services and Quarantine services who are saddled with the responsibility of securing the bothers from infiltration of unsafe GMOs.
According to him, “synergy is very critical in a government, because this Ministries and Agencies have points of convergence; like the Nigerian Custom Services, they are the major border agency and we need to assist the agency to enforce a situation where by don‘t allow GMOs, particularly grains and other large consignment of GM production in to the country without our approval.
“The NASC has the mandate of all new verity of seeds in the country and we are now looking at a situation where some Genetically Modified seeds will be coming into the market so they need to be properly equipped to know how they can handle this seeds to ensure that the best quality of such seeds are what would be sold to the Nigerian farmers.
“The take home from this meeting is the need for consciousness on matters of biosafety. After the NBMA has confirmed the seed safe NASC will also ensure the quality of the seeds and maintain to meet the quality national standards.
“Biosafety permit is required before they are brought in, the Quarantine Services to, equally they also grant permits for GMOs to be brought into the country, they are in charge of phyto-sanitry aspect of the Organisms too, when GMOs are brought in they will need to alert the agency so that we will take over our responsibility so that biosafety is assured.
“When there are new verity of seeds are coming into the country, NASC will alert the agency that we have this new verity they must request the permit from such persons, so we are sure of the Safety of the seeds in the market.” He added.
In his address, the Director General of National Agricultural Seed Council, Dr Philip Ojo said “ we are using this One-day meeting to kick start deliberation on the issues at hand, sensitise and rejuvenate the NASC-IBC to stay alive to its role.
Pointing out the need for sophisticated skills and infrastructure to develop transgenic seeds, Dr Ojo also noted that same amount of investment in human capital development is also needed to regulate the output.
“Against the backdrop of our limited exposure and abysmal low support for capacity development, NASC is aware that biotech products are intensively regulated worldwide.
“The Committee is therefore called to come up with substantial and sustainable road-map to handle the concerns over trade in GM seeds for safe handling by all stakeholders without I’ll consequence to our invaluable ecosystem”, Dr Ojo noted.