No Cause For Alarm Over GMOs, FG Declares

The federal government yesterday allayed fears around the genetically modified crops in Nigeria, insisting that they are safe and pose no harm to humans, animals and environment.

The development followed several mixed reactions following the recent launch of TELA Maize, a genetically modified variety, developed by researchers at the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR), Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Reacting to the opposition against genetically modified (GM) crops, a coalition of Nigeria’s agricultural research bodies led by the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) stated that there is no cause for alarm over the crops.

Addressing the press in Abuja, ARCN executive-secretary Prof Garuba Sharubutu countered a media campaign against GM technology in Nigeria while he insisted that the technology was developed to improve crops productivity, including being resilient to climate change and farming challenges.
Contrary to the opposing notions, Sharubutu maintained that biotechnology has been used successfully to increase crops productivity by combating insect pests and drought in other parts of the world, including USA, Europe, Brazil, Argentina and South Africa.

Director-general of the National Biotechnology Research and Development Agency, (NBRDA) Prof Abdullahi Mustapha, also addressed public concerns over the safety of GMOs, particularly with the introduction of Tela Maize.

Prof Mustapha stressed the need to dispel misinformation and educate the public on the safety and benefits of GMOs, which he said remains crucial for addressing food scarcity, malnutrition, and environmental sustainability.

The NBRDA boss noted that Nigerian scientists have developed other GM crops such as Bt Cowpea and Bt Cotton which can improve food security and reduce pesticide use.
On his side, director-general of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), reiterated the agency’s commitment to ensuring the safe and responsible regulation of GMOs in Nigeria.

She detailed the rigorous risk assessments conducted before approving any GMO, including evaluation of potential risks to human health, the environment, and biodiversity.

According to her, the NBMA’s process involved public consultations and transparent engagement with stakeholders to address concerns and provide accurate information.

Also speaking, acting director-general of the National Agricultural Seeds Council(NASC), Dr Khalid Ishiak debunked misconceptions about the viability of GM seeds.

Dr Ishiak clarified that GM seeds bred in Nigeria can be replanted but recommended purchasing new ones for optimal yields.

In his response, President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Architect Kabiru Ibrahim, defended GMOs, while he stated that they have improved farmers’ earnings and that allegations against GMOs have not been substantiated in their experiences.

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