The director-general of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba, has said robust looking fruits, and beans available in markets across the country are not genetically modified but products of either hybrids or improved conventional varieties.
Speaking in an exclusive chat with Science Nigeria, the NBMA boss said there are no genetically modified fruits available in our markets, adding the genetically modified beans (cowpea) recently approved by the Federal Government is not available in the market yet.
Ebegba made this clarification sequel to the insinuation that the robust looking fruits like mangoes, banana, pear, cucumber, watermelon, that are conspicuously available in the market at present are products of genetic modification.
He expressed strong conviction that the claims were deliberate efforts to cause fear in the minds of the public through misinformation, saying, however, his agency had taken steps to allay the fears through the enlightenment campaign to members of the public.
“A lot of misinformation has been going round the public especially in the media space as some people have taken it upon themselves to misinform Nigerians and backlash the agency for doing its job and fulfilling its mandate of managing biosafety matters in Nigeria,” he said.
The NBMA helmsman restated that the agency is charged with the responsibility of providing regulatory framework and institutional and administrative mechanism for safety measures in the application of modern biotechnology in Nigeria, with a view to preventing its adverse effects on human health, animals, plants and environment.
He clarified that the agency was not created to stop GMOs but to ensure that Nigerians and the environment are safe from any adverse impact they may have on human health and the environment, adding the nation should not be afraid of development because of unfounded fears.
He further said, globally, safe science and technology have been known to be drivers of economic change world over and Nigeria could not afford to be left behind, adding that is why the federal government through NBMA makes sure it approves only safe application of modern biotechnology for the economic development of the country particularly in the agricultural sector.
“I want to assure Nigerians that all GMOs you will ever see in this country will be safe before they are released and their best interest is what the government is out for through the NBMA,” he added.