The Director of National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba, announced the agency involvement with Nigerian Customs ensure repatriation of illegal imported genetically-modified maize (GM)
He further stated that NBMA had to step in to avert the release of the maize consignment into the country due to the failure of the importing company to obtain a GM seed import-permit from NBMA.
Representatives of the company involved were invited by NBMA and asked to provide more information on the GM status of their import. Thereafter, a laboratory test was conducted on the sample obtained from them and it was discovered that the imported maize were indeed genetically modified.
Genetically-modified maize is a maize strain which has been bioengineered to be resistant to pest attacks and herbicides. It involves artificial altering through the addition of genetic material via molecular techniques.
Despite generating a lot of controversies and recently banned by 19 European countries, it still enjoys a level of market presence worldwide, including the United States.
Ebegba advised stakeholders to abide by biosafety laws to avoid sanction. The advice was in line with Section 7 of the 2015 NBMA Act, which states that “No person, institution, or body shall import, export, transit or commercialize any genetically modified organism or product intended for direct use as food or feed, or for processing unless with approval of the Agency.”
He emphasized that obtaining permit before the release of any genetically modified seed, grains or organisms is important in order to ensure that risks assessment is carried out in order to guarantee the safety of human health and the environment.
In light of this, Ebegba made it known that his Agency is a proactive one and would not tolerate any illegalities or shortcuts in its effort to protect the lives of Nigerians.