Researcher cautions Nigerian government on importation of genetically modified food

Akinwunmi Adesina

Samuel Agboire said GMOs could also be useful.

The Director, National Cereals Research Institute, Badeggi, Niger, Samuel Agboire, has advised the Federal Government to ensure proper scrutiny of the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) being imported into the country.

Mr. Agboire gave the advice on Thursday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria during the visit of some fellows of Biosciences for Agriculture in Africa (B4FA) to the institute.

The director urged the authorities to take cognisance of the kind of GM products being imported to ensure safety since there was no bio safety law guiding GMOs in the country.

”We have to be careful with some of the GM products that are being imported into the country. There are GM products abroad that have been rejected by their governments and citizens but they will want to impose such on Nigeria; Nigeria is not a dumping ground.

”So while importing GM products, we must ensure that they pass through the right channels so that they will be certified safe for human consumption,” he said.

Mr. Agboire, however, said Nigeria needed GMOs and any other things that would make it food-sufficient.

Justifying his position, the director said GM plants had some advantages over conventional plant breeding.

”GM plants can be modified against a particular insect or disease, which usually does not happen under conventional breeding.”

In a separate interview, Maji Alhassan, an Assistant Director of the institute, said it would soon produce drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant and nitrogen-use-efficiency GM variety of rice.

He said that the variety of rice could be planted in the marine area and would yield bountifully without additional inputs like fertiliser.

Mr. Alhassan stated that the variety was being tested in Ghana and Uganda. He explained that most GM crops did not need pesticides and herbicides because most of them were modified to have resistance to certain diseases and infections.

A GMO is an organism whose genetic material has been altered, using genetic engineering techniques.

When genes are inserted, they usually come from different species which can be described as horizontal gene transfer.

B4FA is a Cambridge-based non-governmental organisation that is focused on promoting agriculture through collaborations, training and advocacy, to ensure food sufficiency on the African continent.


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