Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of Science and Technology, has emphasised the importance of Genetic Engineering and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in achieving food security in the country.
Onu said this at a five-day workshop on Basic Laboratory Training on Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) Detection and Identification, hosted by National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in Abuja.
“It is important that we can feed our citizens and start the process of producing locally, many things that we import with GMOs.’’
Onu commended NABDA for the work it had done in GMOs, adding that the ministry would continue to support the agency on biotechnology activities.
“I believe through genetic engineering and biotechnology, that all these plans, and more will be achieved,’’ the minister said.
Prof. Alex Akpa, Director- General, NABDA, said the agency had been supporting initiatives that enhanced credibility and public trust in biotechnology research and deployment.
“Our interventions are very strategic and have led to resounding successes in Bt Cotton commercialisation, approval for release of Bt Cowpea and even more recently, massive production of yam seedlings for the Nigerian yam value chain.
“Perhaps, more pertinent today is the enactment of the Bio-Safety Bill and establishment of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), both of which received strong support from NABDA.
“The Bio-safety Bill has stimulated more activities in the deployment of biotechnology.
“These heightened interests have increased the need for NBMA regulation and approval of Genetically Modified (GM) crops and related activities in Nigeria.
“Given these developments, NABDA considered it apt to embark on capacity building on detection and identification of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) in products of biotechnology modification,’’ Akpa said.
Dr Toyin Ajenifujah-Solebo, Deputy Director, Agricultural Biotechnology Department, NABDA, said the training was an indication that the agency had been delivering on its mandate.
Ajenifujah-Solebo, a course coordinator at the training, said the workshop was also an indication of the scientific capability of the agency and Nigeria to fabricate safe modern biotechnology.
She thanked the sponsors of the training and called for more support to encourage scientists to express their ability.
“It has been an opportunity to share experiences. It shows that Nigeria is indeed a regional leader in biotechnology,’’ the official said.
Austein Mcloughlin, a representative of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), Canada, commended the Federal Government for its support in promoting genetic modification.
The workshop is organised with support from National Biosafety Management Agency, ICGEB Italy and Secretariat of Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), Canada.