From: Babatunde Azeez, Abuja
The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) has restated its commitment to ensure that agricultural products from Nigeria meets international standard in line with the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).
Coordinating Director of NAQS, Dr. Vincent Isegbe made this known today at the inauguration of NAQS-Institutional Biosafety Committee in Abuja.
Dr. Isegbe said the service has the mandate to ascertain the health integrity of plant and animals including fisheries either on transit or trans-boundary movement.
According to him: ”The main objective of NAQS is to prevent the introduction, establishment and spread of animal and zoonotic disease as well as pests of plants and fisheries including their products.
“NAQS also facilities trade by ensuring that our agricultural export meets international standard in line with the IPPC, World Trade Organisation (WTO/Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary (SPS)”.
He noted that NAQS has a perfect working relationship with the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) on critical issues in pursuit of national interest.
He added that the service was ready to play its role as the first line of defense against regulated incursions and would continue to build its capacity for the changing biosafety demands.
Director General, NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba, Who inaugurated the Institutional Biosafety Committee, said the federal government established the agency to ensure that bio-technology are safe to the environment and human’s health.
He explained that bio-technology in it’s dynamic nature is going beyond the conventional stage and looking towards more sophisticated technology like GMO mosquito to end malaria in Africa.
According to him: “The issue of modern biotechnology is going very dynamic, we are now talking about synthetic biology, that is the use of both living and non living organisms to modify organisms.
“We are talking about genetically modified mosquito. The African Union is pursuing that vigorously with the intentions of looking at the issues of malaria which has been causing about 80 per cent death is addressed.’’
He also reiterated the commitment of NBMA to the safety of Genetically Modified Organisms GMOs in the country, noting that the agency was capable of regulating the release of Organisms in the country and ensure that non approved Organisms would be allowed in to the country.
“The NBMA makes it mandatory for all GMOs to be labelled for consumers to identify them and make their choices.’’
While inaugurating the 7-man Committee, Ebegbe, tasked the members to play critical role and ensure that agricultural biosafety to satisfy the national requirement.