By Etta Michael Bisong
As part of preparations to enforce the implementation of safe modern biotechnology activities to enhance socio-economic development, the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), has issued a warning to sanction any operator involved in the practice of genetically modified (GM) products that is yet to formalise such dealings with the Agency.
The threat reinforces and is in line with an earlier call by the NBMA urging individuals, companies and institutions engaged in modern biotechnology and GM practice in Nigeria to formalise their dealings latest 31 December, 2015.
The Director General and Chief Executive Officer (DG/CEO) of the Agency, Sir Rufus Ebegba, who sounded the warning during a press briefing on the state of the nation’s biosafety in Abuja, hinted that there are ample evidences of unapproved genetically modified organisms saturated across the country. Therefore, the DG stressed the need for those involved in the act to interface with the regulator before the end of the year, highlighted the fact that such practices would no longer be allowed in the sector.
Sir. Ebegba cautioned that the National Biosafety Management Act is in full force and that any breach would be met with a severe punishment as the agency would not permit any act that could endanger the health and safety of Nigerian citizens to subsist.
‘‘All dealers of unapproved modern biosafety activities and GMOs have been requested by the Agency to formalise their dealings before the December 31 deadline as defaulters would be prosecuted as from January 2016,’’ he said.
The NBMA boss hinted that according to biosafety policy on commercialisation of GMOs in Nigeria, any GMO farm covering up to 50 hectares would be required to establish 5 per cent of the land with trees adaptable to the area as part of conscious efforts to increase the depleting forest cover as well as render ecosystem services.
He tasked biotechnologists and scientists to stand by the technology that they believe in and minimise or prevent the misinformation surrounding it, while adopting and practising the technology safely.
‘‘Nigeria is a peculiar nation, being a regulatory agency does not mean the agency should create a big gap between it and the proponents of modern biotechnology,’’ he said.
The National Biosafety Act was established in April 2015 and empowered the NBMA with the responsibility for providing regulatory framework, institutional and administrative mechanism for safe measures in the application of modern biotechnology and GM practices in Nigeria.