NBMA chief, Rufus Ebegba
NBMA chief, Dr. Rufus Ebegba

The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) says its collaboration with some agencies is to ensure that only Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) confirmed safe by the agency are brought into the country.

Dr. Rufus Ebegba, Director-General, NBMA made this known in an interview in Abuja on Sunday.

“As part of our collaboration with other ministries and agencies, we have signed Memorandum of  Understanding(MoU) with NAFDAC, Nigerian customs service, Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service,  Nigerian  Seed Council, and even the Varietal release committee which approves all new varieties of agricultural plants.

“We have also signed MoU with some departments in the Ministry of Agriculture and also Standard Organisation of Nigeria.

“All these with a view of creating synergy and to ensure all the sectors of government key into this national biosafety system.

“Also, there is a point of convergence like the Nigeria Customs Service, is the major boarder agency in Nigeria. So to help the agency to ensure only GMOs that we have confirmed safe that are brought into the country,” he told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

Ebegba added, “Part of the MoU is that when their bulk shipment of grains arrived, we are alerted to take specimen to analyse to see if they are genetically modified or not.

“It is in this regard that in the year 2017 we repatriated a shipload of genetically modified grain that were brought into this country without biosafety certification.

“The MoU is basically to ensure that genetically modified products brought into the country or that are released into the country are safe for human consumption and to the environment.”

Speaking on monitoring superstores for genetically modified foods, the Biosafety boss said the agency had regular meetings to sensitise them on the need to obtain biosafety permit on products that contain genetically modified ingredients.

“We have also carried out a survey to profile all the foods that are processed in superstores, we realise that some of them really contain genetically modified ingredients.

“Part of our collaboration with NAFDAC is to ensure that all the foods that contain genetically modified ingredients obtain biosafety certification before NAFDAC grants them food safety permit or certification.

“These are part of the results we are getting from the MoU.

“Those superstores are now aware and NAFDAC will not approve any of their products that do not have biosafety certification, particularly the ones that contain GMOs.

” And we also know that some particular countries most of their foods contain genetically modified ingredients.

“So, we also focus on those countries and we also know they are transit movement of GMOs amongst some countries, so we are also taken a look at all these.”

He said Nigeria had one of the best biosafety systems in Africa evident in Nigeria chairing the African Biosafety Regulators Forum.

Ebegba said the National Biosafety system in Nigeria had what it takes to safeguard Nigerians from any potential harm from modern biotechnology and GMOs.

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