BY CHIBUZOR EMEJOR.
Federal Government has reiterated its irrevocable commitment to resuscitating textile industry across the country as part of measures to create employment and generate wealth.
Prof. Alex Akpa, Acting Director General of National Agricultural Biotechnology Development Agency [NABDA] who stated on a live radio programme monitored in Abuja at the weekend, said the Biotechnology [bt] cotton would be launched and commercialized soon.
He pointed out that most of the textile industries in Nigeria are moribund and even closed down due to inadequate supply of cotton.
To ensure massive production of bt cotton, Akpa said 1,000 farmers would be trained early next year to produce cotton for the textile industry.
He noted that China, with its huge population, has been using bt cotton over the years, to feed her textile mills as well as exporting them for foreign exchange.
He explained that the bt cotton gives 4.1 to 4.5 tonnes per hectare unlike the conventional cotton that gives 750kg per hectare.
He underscored the need for the application of biotechnology for the improvement of agriculture and industrial development of Nigeria.
He asserted that genetically modified foods do not pose any risk or danger to the consumers, adding that they do not cause cancer and sterility.
He added that the GM products have be certified by World Health Organisation[WHO] and Food and Agricultural Organisation[FAO].
He assured that the agency would scale up its enlightenment programmes about GMOs, adding that already 32 Resource Centres have been established across the country.
Also speaking, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, Director General of National Bio-safety Management Agency [NBMA], said his agency had signed a memorandum of understanding with National Food and Drugs Administration and Control, [NAFDAC], Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service, Nigerian Customs Service and Standards Organisation of Nigeria [SON] to ensure that GM products are not imported into the country without biosafety permits.
Ebegba said no GM Processed food has been approved for sale in Nigeria, warning that his agency would confiscate such products and prosecute the importers of unapproved products.
He said six zonal offices would be established across the country for effective monitoring and surveillance to guard against importation of GM food without approval.
He said the importers of GM food must first apply to the agency for risk assessment to be done on such products, before they would be given permits.
It would be recalled that the Act establishes the National Biosafety Management Agency charged with the responsibility for providing regulatory framework, institutional and administrative mechanism for safety measures in the application of modern bio-technology in Nigeria with the view to preventing any adverse effect on human health, animals, plants and environment.