By Chibuzor Emejor
National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC) and National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) have initiated measures aimed at checking the influx of unwholesome and unapproved Genetically Modified (GM) seeds into Nigeria.
Speaking at the NASC Institutional Biosafety Workshop in Abuja, Dr. Rufus Ebegba underscored the need for consciousness on the matters of biosafety in the country.
He stressed the need for synergy and collaboration with critical stakeholders such as the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) and NASC to ensure that genetically modified seeds without biosafety permits are not allowed into the country.
As part of the measures to further check the influx of unapproved genetically modified seeds without biosafety permit, Ebegba said National Agricultural Seeds Council Institutional Biosafety Committee would be rejuvenated to provide guidelines and procedures for production, certification and quality control of GM crop seeds.
He also revealed that the Agency would establish zonal offices across the country to strengthen their activities, warning that there are consequences for bringing genetically modified seeds without biosafety permit from NBMA.
Also speaking, Dr. Philip Ojo, Director General of NASC, assured that in line with NASC Act 72 of 1992 that gives the Council the sole responsibility of regulating every class of seeds in Nigeria while also providing technical support for seed entrepreneurs and promoting elite varieties of crop seeds, that the Agency would work assiduously to rid the country of fake seed.
Ojo noted that the same Seed Law stipulates that any variety that fails to meet farmers’ expectation would be withdrawn from circulation.
He pointed out the need to invest in human capital development and infrastructure to properly regulate the seed industry.
He therefore tasked the Committee to come up with substantial and sustainable road-map to handle the concerns over trade in GM-seeds for safe handling by all stakeholders without ill-consequences to Nigeria’s invaluable ecosystem.
He further assured that with the constitution of the Committee, regulation of the seed industry would be properly done, adding that it would increase productivity of food and help to reduce adulterated seeds in the markets.