I never said GMO critics are terrorists —NBMA boss
Dr Rufus Ebegba, Director-General, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has debunked a media report in which he was misquoted as saying that Nigerians who are against genetically modified (GMO) products are terrorists.
Ebegba made the clarification on Thursday in Abuja during a review meeting of the draft national guidelines on genetically modified plants with stacked genes.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the report stemmed from a workshop held on Oct. 25 organised by the Environment Media Correspondents Association of Nigeria, wherein he only allayed the fears of the public about the risk of consuming approved GM products like TELA maize.
“I never made that statement. What I said was that only those who create fear and try to intimidate people are terrorists.
“People are bound to give their views on issues, but it should be rightly reported ,” he said.
Ebegba charged journalists to always confirm information and be sure of their facts before dishing out stories to the public.
He disclosed that NBMA has developed guidelines for stacked genes that have more than one gene.
The stacking of GMO events is the process of combining two or more events of interest into a plant. It can be achieved through conventional breeding or molecular technique.
The conventional breeding is when you combine traits from two or more GMO events, while molecular technique involves the insertion of new recombinant DNA into the genome.
Ebegba further explained that the guidelines was to define the modules of assessment for products that are stacked, such as maize, yam and more.
He said that those who were interested in the products should apply for biosafety permit before they are released to the Nigerian environment.
Also speaking, Samuel Timpo, Senior Program Officer, Aftican Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) applauded NBMA for the great feat, adding that it would go a long way in ensuring food security in Nigeria.
“In the eyes of the international community, Nigeria is making waves. I encourage you to keep the standard.
“It is important that the guidelines be developed to improve GM products in the Nigerian environment to ensure food security,” said Timpo.
He promised to offer assistance when needed to compliment NBMA’s efforts, adding that because of NBMA’s progress in GM products, a member-state would be visiting the agency to learn from its footsteps.
Mrs Scholastica Bello, Head, NBMA Planning, Research and Statistics, who spoke on the objective of the drafted guidelines said it was guided by a process to ensure and simplify compliance with NBMA ACT 15.
She explained that before now, stakeholders had held workshops on different occasions from July to date to understand the technology, review global approaches and strategize on how to develop the national guidelines.(NAN)