Ensuring and Reinforcing Biosafety Regulation in Imported Foods in Nigeria

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According to NMBA, 2016, with the adoption of National Biosafety Management Agency Act 2015, Nigeria has now domesticated the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which the country signed in 2000 and ratified in 2003. It therefore means that Nigeria is now a player in global biosafety regulation. It also now opens avenues for Nigeria to adopt modern biotechnology legally for economic development.

This development is part of watching over genetic modified organisms, induced organics and imported foods.

Furthermore, biosafety is the prevention of large-scale loss of biological integrity, focusing both on agriculture and human health.

In a bid to ensure safety of people’s health and food consumption there has never be an end to manufacturers producing both animal feeds, seeds, and vaccine, to add an induced mechanism for increase. It is worthy to note that biotechnology begins with man since civilization.

According to Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, FARA, 2012; Newell and Mackenzie, 2005, biotechnology can help move communities from deprivation to prosperity but only where local capacity and safeguards are well balanced.

The major issues and worries of biotechnology in vulnerable communities are genetic contamination, human health effects of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and their impacts on ecosystem services and sustainability, GrupoSemillas, 2009. While national, states and local governments are under increasing pressure to modernize agriculture in their communities, the wealth and diversity of locally-adapted seeds and the indigenous intelligence of local farmers is usually ignored, undermined or eroded by policy makers.

Also, Nigeria is endowed with diverse biodiversity some of which are unique to our ecosystems. While biotechnology short term economic benefits can easily be predicted, the long term health and environmental costs are largely unknown and unpredictable for now. Currently, Nigerian communities are vulnerable to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

Unfortunately, in most of Barns Connect interviews with the local farmers and citizens on their level of awareness of GMOs, majority of the people’s responses are null and few said they can’t identify the products except if labeled. These people are exposed to these organisms indirectly to agro-seeds, vaccines, foods and other essentials of life.

Although, the only government approved GMO seed in Nigeria is Cowpea popularly call Beans. According to NBMA Director General, Rufus Ebegba, 2015, said,in the last five years, research projects into GMO cowpea and cassava have been continuing in universities and in research institutes while that of rice is starting. However, due to importation and illegal smuggling of essentials commodities these contribute to surfacing of unmonitored GMOs products in Nigeria markets putting people’s health and food consumption at risk.

GMOs are new enhancers exported to developing countries such as Nigeria for profit. But there is urgent need to ensure the reinforcement of biosafety regulations for diverse spectrum of threats, including endemic diseases, natural outbreaks or pandemics, accidents involving biological agent release, bioterrorism attacks, and biological warfare, all of them have a wide range of potential consequences.

Equally, National Biosafety Management Agency (NMBA) and relevant stakeholders need to ensure proactive measures for the safety of the people and monitoring all imported seeds and food commodities become very crucial.

National Management of Biosafety Agency and other relevant agencies should safeguard and support the labeling of these GMO resources for generations need to be recognized and integrated in the country.

By Godwin Adinoyi Jimoh,
Barns Connect

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