By Perpetua Onuegbu
Dr Rufus Egbegba, the Director-General, National Bio-safety Management Agency says Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are designed to solve specific agricultural problems.
Egbegba told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja that the production of GMOs was meant to reduce or completely eliminate problems that face the agricultural sector for greater productivity and sustainability.
“The essence of GMOs is to solve specific problems, not necessarily because you want to have variety of products, you could solve specific problems that are difficult to solve over the years.
“For instance, we have a particular bean now that have been genetically modified for insect resistant, this insect may disrupt 90 per cent of the beans on the field.
“But with the modification that has been carried out, the infestation has been controlled.
“Since 2009 it has been on the field for experiment, it is being discovered that the productivity has increased between three to four times,’’ he said.
Egbegba said the focus of the agency in producing GMO was not necessarily to increase yield but that the insect infestation could be reduced so that the crop could now produce in its natural capacity.
“It’s like a child that is sick, that child will not attain its full potential, so when you remove the insect infestation root of it, the beans will now attain its normal productivity and farmers will now get a better yield.
”We take into consideration the economic importance of that product when taking decisions, ours is basically on the issue of risk to ensure that it does not have any adverse impact.
“Those are things we are interested in, if it has even one single adverse impact that it cannot be managed, it is never allowed into the market.
“So the National Bio-safety management has put in place structures to ensure that GMOs are safe before they are released for planting, for processing or for direct consumption,’’ he said.
Egbegba added that the agency had set up a bio-safety genetically modified organism detection and analysis laboratory where all genetically modified organisms were tested and analysed before approval.
He said it was even more important since it was not easy to differential GMOs from conventional crops.
NAN reports that the NBMA was established by the National Biosafety Management Agency Act 2015, to provide regulatory framework to adequately safeguard human health and the environment from potential adverse effects of modern biotechnology.
The agency is also mandated to protect citizens from harmful genetically modified organisms, while harnessing the potentials of modern biotechnology and its derivatives, for the benefit of Nigerians. (NAN)