ABUJA – Professor Abdullahi Mustapha, Director General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) has said there has not been any scientific research anywhere in the world that has proven that the consumption of Genetical Modified Organisms (GMOs) is harmful to human beings.
Mustapha stated this in Abuja at the ongoing Science, Technology and Innovation EXPO 2021, with the theme:”Science, Technology and Innovation for Economic Recovery and Sustainability Amidst COVID-19 Challenges.”
He said: “Up till now, there has not been any recorded risk associated with biotechnology crops or products.
“No study or research has shown that genetically modified products are harmful. There is none.”
While acknowledging the misgivings and concerns which people have about genetically modified products, Mustapha pointed out that the Federal Government set up the National Bio-safety Management Agency (NBMA) saddled with the responsibility of providing a regulatory framework to adequately safeguard 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.
He explained that before the release of any genetically modified products, that the Varietal Release Committee would have subjected them to rigorous and thorough examination before approval would be given for their release.
So far in Nigeria, the Director General of NABDA, said only two products namely Bt cowpea and Bt cotton have been approved for commercial use in the country.
He maintained that the cultivation of Bt cotton which ensures higher yields, would contribute immensely in the resuscitation of ailing and moribund textile mills in the country.
He said genetically modified crops are climate smart and resistant to diseases, pests and drought.
He noted that countries that have given priority attention to the development of modern biotechnology enjoy huge investment inflow and market acceptability of their products.
To this end, NABDA boss pleaded with government to scale up the funding of biotechnology research to enhance food security in the country.
He said, “The rate of returns for Bt cotton is around 105%. It is very encouraging.
“Nigeria must invest in biotechnology research in the area of drug manufacturing, agriculture, cleaner environment, industrial processing technology.
“Government must continue to encourage the participation of youth and women in modern agriculture.
“No country can develop, if it does not have indigenous Technology.
“Government needs to provide more funding for its technology to develop.”
Mustapha further urged the government to stimulate private sector investment in research as well as protect indigenous technology from theft.
Also speaking, Dr. Rose Gidado, Country Coordinator of Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Nigeria Chapter, debunked the myths and controversies surrounding the consumption of genetically modified products.
Gidado contended that fake information about GMOs is peddled by some environmentalists who are sponsored by anti-GMO organisations for their selfish reasons.
In view of the burgeoning population of Nigeria, she said Nigeria can only attain food security through the deployment of agricultural biotechnology.