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GMO food not safe for human consumption – DG NAFDAC

*Biosafety agency, NBMA insists TELA maize are safe

By Femi Akinola and George George Idowu

The Director General of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, has declared that the newly adopted Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) crops are not suitable for human consumption.

The NAFDAC boss argued that GMO crops were not safe for human consumption because lots of research has not been done in terms of the safety of GMO products, noting that the genetics of the seeds have been modified.

According to Professor Adeyeye, until NAFDAC gets very convincing data to show the safety of GMO consumption, “it is not safe for us in terms of NAFDAC perspectives.

The NAFDAC Director General made this clarification in a recent interview on Arise News Television.

She said that though NAFDAC had not conducted extensive research on the safety of GMO products, the agency did not have evidence to show that GMO products like maize and tomatoes were safe for human consumption.

Her words: “Genetically modified foods are foods produced from GMO organisms that have had changes introduced into their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering as opposed to traditional cross breeding.

The GMOs can be used for non-food crops, including to make sure that timber grows better for furniture, rubber plantation and so on. There is no evidence from NAFDAC that it is safe.

“Actually, NAFDAC has not done research to this effect. We have biodiversity, I think it is a bioethics or biodiversity agency. We also have a biotechnology agency. We also have the seedling group that is in charge of seeds. The Ministry of Agric is more into this than NAFDAC, but NAFDAC also is on the lookout.

“We (NAFDAC) have not registered a single GMO product because we are sensitive about it. We leave the agency that is supposed to take care of it to give us advice on good or bad. But right now, we have not done anything.”

Meanwhile, federal government agencies have addressed concerns about the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMO) crops, reassuring Nigerians that these crops are safe for consumption.

In a news conference on Thursday in Abuja, the agencies, including the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), the National Biotechnology and Development Agency (NBDA), the National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), and the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), tackled misinformation circulating on social media about the negative effects of GMOs.

Garba Sharubutu, ARCN’s executive secretary, emphasized that numerous studies indicate no health risks associated with GM foods.

He stated that gene-altered crops pose no more risk than those developed through traditional breeding techniques.

He said: “More than 275 independent science organizations worldwide have concluded that food grown from genetically engineered seeds poses no unique health concerns.”

Sharubutu highlighted the agency’s focus on enhancing crop resistance to drought and floods and improving productivity through GMO technology.

He reassured Nigerians that GMO crops are not banned and that their concerns are being taken seriously.

Abdullahi Mustapha, NBDA’s director-general, addressed the controversy surrounding GMO safety, attributing it to misinformation.

He stressed that the NBDA is committed to dispelling myths and promoting the benefits of GMO crops, which have the potential to boost food security and environmental safety.

Khalid Ishiak, NASC’s acting director-general, confirmed that GMO technology has been certified by Nigerian scientists.

He urged Nigerians to trust in their technological advancements, emphasizing the importance of self-reliance in food production.

Similarly, Agnes Asagbra, NBMA’s director-general, debunked negative social media reports amid food insecurity concerns.

She assured citizens that government agencies are dedicated to ensuring the safety of biotechnology practices, including GMOs, and have implemented comprehensive safety measures in collaboration with other federal agencies.


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