By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The Director-General, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr Rufus Ebegba, on Friday declared that stringent measures will be followed before genetically modified fish and other animals are released into the Nigerian market.
Ebegba stated this in Abuja during the stakeholders meeting for the review of draft guidelines on Genetically Modified (GM) fish, animals, food/feed, and grain import
Ebegba noted that most of the fish and animals developed has not been released internationally for commercial level, stressing that the development of GM animals was not like a crop.
He said that there were more stringent measures to Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) thereby it needed more stringent biosafety measures to contain them to avoid mix up with other species.
“We don’t intend that the fish mingle with other natural bodies in the water. The essence is that GMOs are likely to have greater rigorous measures.
“They need to be confined so they don’t end up eating other species. We wouldn’t want them to mix up their genes,’’ he explained.
He, therefore, assured Nigerians that NBMA would continue to carry out its activities effectively to ensure safety in modern biotechnology application in the country.
The director-general further said that NBMA needed to review its guidelines and regulation to effectively implement its Act.
“We already have some regulations, but we need to review these guidelines for the running of the agency. We need to develop them so that they can be useful and develop the Act, to know what to do at a particular point in time.
“The guidelines will also assist applicants who will be filing biosafety applications as there are various procedures to be followed.
“These guidelines contained the procedure, which we need to adopt in a filing in biosafety application that will be approved and to guide the agency in its day-to-day operation.
“We have assembled participants from various ministries and departments to put their experience to know what we are doing and also to get their inputs, so it can be fully accepted by all Nigerians especially the government operatives,’’ he said.
The Country Coordinator, OFAB, Dr Rose Gidado, called on Nigerians to welcome GM products, adding that GM products are safe for the environment and human health.
According to her, NBMA was created to ensure that biotechnology practices are safe and, by drafting the guidelines, it works to meet international standards.