​By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Minister of Environment in Nigeria, Amina Mohammed has assured that the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) was adequately equipped to carry out risk assessments on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), which are currently under trial in the country.

Mohammed, who gave the assurance at the just concluded Second National Conference of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) on Thursday in Abuja, explained that the agency had capable biosafety regulatory personnel as well as equipped to carry out risk assessments on GMOs.

“NBMA has personnel who are trained within and outside the country to effectively carry out its regulatory functions and also well equipped laboratory to detect any smallest genes in GMOs.

“Nigerians should be rest assured of the protection of their health and the environment by the agency on matters concerning GMOs. We are working in partnership with relevant bodies in line with the United Nations convention to protect the environment and these partnerships are important if we are to succeed in ensuring food security,” the Minister stated.

She enjoined all Nigerians to support the government in its effort to rejuvenate the economy and free its people from poverty. “Nigerians should support NBMA to enable us benefit maximally from the practice of safe modern biotechnology.”

Mohammed observed that the theme of the conference was relevant to the Change Agenda of the present administration, which focused on revitalising the economy, improving security and tackling corruption.

“This administration is committed to ensuring food security for all Nigerians, therefore, agriculture is one of the ways the government is making urgent efforts to diversify the Nigerian economy. Lack of food security is an underlining cause for some of the greatest challenges in the country today. So, sustainable development goals should seek to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition,” she said.

Mohammed said that for Nigeria to be food sufficient, it must underscore the need for modern and climate smart agricultural practices. “We must increase investment, including enhanced international cooperation in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development and plant and livestock gene banks in order to enhance agricultural productive capacity.

“This will provide a form of economic diversification as it will bring with it a new set of skill requirements and expand job opportunities. And this government will welcome technology that will provide safe and adequate food for Nigerians,’’ she said.