NBMA, Customs Partner to Stop Illegal Imports of GMO Products

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From: AgroNature Admin

The Nigerian Biosafety Management Agency  (NBMA) Friday said it is partnering with the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to prevent illegal importation of Genetically Modified (GMO) products.

Director General of the agency, Dr. Rufus Ebegba disclosed this during a sensitisation meeting with journalists in Abuja.

He said the agency will check scourge of undue GM imports through the Nigerian Intergrated Customs Information System (NICIS) and also increase its sensitisation campaign on GM safety regulations.

“We are also working very closely with the Nigerian Customs through the Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System which would allow the Agency to get prior notification before GMOs are imported into the country.
This system will give the Agency a first-hand information whenever any seed or grain that is genetically modified is brought into the country,” Ebegba said.

The DG added that aside from NCS, the agency already partnered with some agencies such as Voice of Nigeria, Standards Organization of Nigeria, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, National Agricultural Seed Council and in the process of completing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with NCS Varietal Release Committee and the Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

He acknowledged the agency’s knowledge over GMO suspects in the country, saying it was why the agency embarked on surveys across the country to check for GM products and bring them in for test and analysis.

According to him, the meeting was aimed to update the public on activities of the agency, stressing that contrary to views from some sections in the country, the NBMA had been up and doing in its regulatory functions.

“Recently we have met with representatives of superstores across the country and we have told them our stand on the issue of unauthorized Genetically Modified Foods (GMO) in the Nigerian market and they have been given a final warning to formalize their dealings.

“We have also met with various seed and grain importers in the country and have told them our stand on the issues of GMO importation and we have given a stern warning against anyone who contravenes the law. An example was the issue of the 90 thousand metric tons of maize that was repatriated last year.

“The Agency has closely monitored the various research institute across the country to ensure that the confined field trials going on are in accordance with the biosafety regulations and guidelines.”

The agency said it partnered with other organizations locally and internationally in efforts to ensure that it achieve its mandate of safeguarding human health and the environment.

As part of partnership efforts, he said NBMA recently interacted with Interpol with assurance to provide the agency with work equipment to further enhance our work.

In order to boost capacity of the staff, the agency noted that it embarked on staff training locally and internationally on various aspects of Biosafety.

This, he said was to equip and prepare them for the huge task of protecting the country from unapproved GMOs.

“As part of our public awareness drive we have an annual Biosafety Conference which is an international event to further reach out to the public on Biosafety issues. This year’s edition will be held in Ambrose Ali University Epkoma and will have an array of speakers drawn from Research institutes, civil society groups and activists to talk on various aspects of Biosafety.

“The agency is strongly in line with global best practises on Biosafety and is up to date with what is obtainable globally. This is because we have a surveillance of what is happening globally. Some of these global activities which the Agency is a strong part of include, the COP/MOP2018 which is a biannual conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, where issues concerning the environment is discussed.

“At the last council on environment, the states accepted to have Biosafety desks. With this development the Agency will have three desk offices in some selected states of the federation. This will help further strengthen surveillance and monitoring especially in states that are close to the boarders,” he added.

The DG assured the public of GM safety while calling for improved public trust in government policies and actions.

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