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Illegal importers of GM food, grains will be clamped down a DG NBMA.

THE Director General of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr Rufus Ebegba has warned importers who import Genetically Modified food and grains without obtaining the agency's Biosafety certification to desist from that or face the consequences.

Dr Ebegba also called on sister agencies to always demand Biosafety permit from importers of products containing Genetically Modified ingredients before giving them the approval to import.Speaking at the review and validation of National Biosafety Mainstreaming Strategy, Dr Ebegba said the Agency would be working closing with other sister agencies especially the National Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), to ensure compliance with the Biosafety Act on the importation of Genetically Modified Organisms.

'While we believe that every agency has its mandate, I will continue to respect the mandate of every agency because we believe that we are all working for the people of Nigeria and the Federal Government.

'Henceforth, any product that contains Genetically Modified Ingredients without Biosafety certification will never be allowed to be sold, imported, planted and used in Nigeria, so we require every government agency that deals with the related product to demand Biosafety certification before the process such materials.

'We have realised that there quite a number of food substances, food in the country that contains Genetically Modified Ingredients, we have given a moratorium for those importers and it has expired, we have started intensive monitoring and inspection of facilities.

'Henceforth, any organisation that is in charge of any product that is being imported and seems to contain Genetically Modified Organisms, particularly when they are labelled, please request for Biosafety certificate from the Agency, if that is not done, such product will not be allowed to enter the Nigerian market.

'We believe with the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) we have signed with various agencies and ministries suffice for this, am also making this so that this will be an opportunity for the members of the public, and also those who will be dealing with these products, foods that contain Genetically Modified Organisms, we will no longer respect any agency certification of this food without Biosafety permit.

'The National Biosafety Management Agency has the responsibility to do that, we also respect the extant laws of other agencies, we will not infringe on their responsibilities, at the same time, there is a need for us to collaborate so that we can release on those food that are safe to the people of Nigeria.

'Please I urge all sister agencies to take this seriously, because we are aware that some of these food items were approved by some other agencies, we are also aware that some of these grains were approved by other agencies, our enforcement team are in ground, we will enforce with relevant government enforcement agencies to ensure that our laws are complied with.

'We also use this medium to advice the importer of foods that contain Genetically Modified Ingredients, we will not tolerate them any more, we are already monitoring, we have had specimen we have been analyzing, and we have concluded, we will work closely with NAFDAC to achieve this mandate and I believe other agencies will work closely with them,' Dr Ebegba said.

The strategy document identifies legislations and policies of line MDAs and analyses the entry points for biosafety to ensure smooth synergy with each institution. Some MDAs included in the strategy are: Federal Ministry of Environment (FMENV), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Consumer Protection Council (CPC), National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), and Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI).

Representatives of the MDAs present conveyed their willingness to continue to work with NBMA in the regulation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to ensure that the practice of modern biotechnology does not pose any harm to human and the environment.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:Oct 16, 2018
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