Samuel Bello, Abuja
The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), on Thursday, said it has, in conjunction with the Nigerian Customs Services, ordered the immediate confiscation of imported Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) product into the country without a Biosafety permit.
Director General of the agency, Rufus Ebegba, who disclosed this in Abuja during an interactive session with Grain Importers, said if any bulk importation of genetically modified seeds or grains were found, it would be confiscated, burnt and whoever was involved would be prosecuted.
Ebegba noted that over the years most seed companies had been importing grains from countries where most grains were genetically modified.
He added that NBMA was proactive and would not tolerate any illegalities or shortcuts in its efforts to protect the lives of Nigerians and the integrity of their environment.
“Some companies still feign ignorance about where GM grains are produced across the globe and continue to import from such countries, this meeting is to enlighten the companies and ensure that everybody keys into the Biosafety system.”
“Companies have been importing GMOs for years even before the establishment of NBMA. Now that a regulatory agency is in place, the need to abide by the NBMA Act 2015 is necessary.”
He encouraged grain importers to ensure that their activities were in compliance with the Agency’s import guidelines.
Ebegba added that the Federal Government was interested in providing a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, adding that it was the responsibility of the business community to comply with the necessary laws and guidelines provided by the government to make it work.
The Director General while noting that some companies had already been granted Biosafety permits by the agency, said that the agency would not compromise its standard in ensuring that the health of Nigerians and the environment were not threatened by any potential risk posed by GMOs.
In his remarks, Country Coordinator, Programme for Biosafety Systems (PBS), Dr. Mathew Dore, urged the companies to work together and cooperate with NBMA for the successful execution of the import guidelines.
The participants at the meeting, which attracted over 50 grain importing companies, and representatives of ministries and agencies, agreed to work with NBMA for the formation of a strong and viable seed/grains importer’s network that will give room for effective monitoring and supervision.
NBMA urges seed companies to comply with import guidelines