Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Rufus Ebegba has issued a rallying cry out to Nigerians not to take serious the recent inciting comments made by a unanimous radio station in Abuja against the National Biosafety Management Agency and its activities.
Ebegba released this statement during a press conference that took place in the NBMA headquarters in Abuja on the 21st of March, 2019.
The purpose of the Briefing was mainly to quell the tension in the public about the activities of the Agency by this radio station. However, the comments which are geared against Biosafety were assumed to be seriously biased, lacking scientific evidence and facts.
He claimed that it was an attempt to paint a bad image of the Federal governments’ caring efforts to ensure the growth of the economy through the application of confirmed safe technologies, as well as that of the National Assembly who, for 13 years (2002- 2015) carefully evaluated the National Biosafety Management Bill before assenting it in 2015.
Ebegba said during the press conference
“The claim by the said Radio station that there are GM mangoes, grape fruits, cassava, etc are completely false and an indication of their ignorance. The commercially approved GM crops globally are Cotton, Eggplant, Corn (Maize), Poplar, Maize, canola, Soybean, flower colour Carnation, flower colour Petunia, flower colour Rose, Papaya, RR Canola, and potato. These GM crops are not currently officially in the Nigeria market/environment.”
“I want to emphasize that if modern Biotechnology and its products (GMOs) are not regulated, the nation will be in a food chaos as it will lead to dumping of unsafe GM products, and developers can produce unregulated GM products, flood the market with them and mislead Nigerians that they are not genetically modified. Hence, regulating this sector is very key for the development of the economy and for the sanctity of safety of GM products in the markets.”
” Nigeria will not benefit from safe modern biotechnology under a legal framework for economic growth, improved agriculture, job and wealth creation, industrial growth and sustainable environment as operators will not have confidence in the sector; but the nation will instead, be at the receiving end of the countries that have commercialized these crops since they will have free access to Nigeria market unhindered.”
He further stressed that with the establishment of NBMA, dumping of unauthorised GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) into Nigeria is now at its barest minimum, and risks to human health from modern biotechnology practice and the use of GMOs are at their barest minimum.
He also explained that the Agency was not founded to stop GMOs, but to make sure that only GM products that are safe for humans and the environment are approved for release and use in Nigeria. NBMA therefore owes it as a duty to Nigerians to ensure that any product approved for importation or commercialization is safe.
“Those calling for scrapping of the NBMA are directly paving way for dumping of GMOs in the country, enriching the countries from which these crops are imported, weakening the potentials of our scientists in this sector and do not have the interest of the public at heart, as they claim.”
In an attempt to portray the good efforts of the organisation to the public, Ebegba also explained that the Permits so far given were granted after proper risk assessment and analysis were carried out, public display of the application done and the applications duly reviewed by representatives from all sectors of the economy. The NBMA has endorsed them safe for human health and the environment and these were done with the interest of Nigerians at heart.
He further maintained that the Agency will continue to make sure that only safe GMOs will be allowed either for planting, consumption or processing in Nigeria as the Agency has full structural and human capacity to ensure the safety of Nigerians in the use of genetically modified organisms and application of Modern Biotechnology.
The Agency also seems to be abreast of the miscreants who are not playing honestly and are therfore taking proactive steps to ensure that citizens of the country are not misled.
The Agency has never taken any decision in isolation but has always carried the public along and as such, I want to assure Nigerians that the information from that media house is not genuine, scientific and it is based on flawed scientific process that have been pulled down from peer review journals in which they were published. Scientific facts are replicable under laid down scientific procedures.
Ebegba urged the media not to take serious any misinformation and to properly investigate any information before making it available for public hearing.
“Journalists who are gatekeepers of information should verify the Genuity of any information before it is shared to the public.”
“I urge anyone who is in doubt or might have any question to come to the Agency or go to the Agency’s website to get the needed and correct information, and should, as a matter of fact, clarify information when in doubt. Media houses should make sure only correct and valid information are made public as they hold the people’s trust and will be held liable for misleading the public. “
The NBMA was established by the act of the National Assembly in 2015, with the privilege mary aim to provide regulatory framework to adequately safe guard human health and the environment from potential adverse effects of modern biotechnology and genetically modified organisms, while harnessing the potentials of modern biotechnology and its derivatives, for the benefit of Nigerians.