Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibril, has said Nigeria has become a dumping ground for inferior, substandard, expired and poisonous foods and feeds from countries across the globe.
The minister said this on Monday in Abuja at a workshop organised by National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) and Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) to stimulate the collaboration of regulatory agencies.
He, however, noted that there might be some machinations by some affluent nations to keep Nigeria a food-dependent nation perpetually.
“Nigeria has been marginalised and ostracised by many rich nations in the European Union which suspended some of our agricultural products, citing high volume of dichlorvos pesticide as its reason.
“This is a reflection of our inability to adhere to global standards, which has come to hunt us at the international level.
“And I made bold to say that we — the regulatory Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) — all contributed our fair share to this deplorable state of affairs.
“Although we all have our specific mandates; the lack of collaboration in carrying out the mandates in the face of limited resources has hampered and reduced our efficiency and effectiveness.”
Jibril said that now that modern biotechnology was becoming increasingly significant in addressing the emerging challenges of food security and renewable energy demand; stakeholders must work together for the good of the country.
“With its perceived and real unintended consequences, we the regulatory agencies must unite with a sense of purpose, vision, mission and determination to ensure that our nation do not become a dumping ground.
“And we must as well not run away from the benefits of the application of modern biotechnology and the use of genetically modified foods and feeds.”
In his remarks, Dr Rufus Ebegba, the Director-General, NBMA, said that the agency had been advocating inter-agency collaboration to ensure that Nigeria would not be termed a dumping ground for unwholesome products anymore.
“Collaboration is key to success and we want to succeed in the use and application of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the country.
“That is why we are collaborating with line agencies to keep the country safe and healthy.”
Mr John Komen, the Coordinator of PBS in Africa, pledged his organisation’s support for efforts to adopt modern biotechnology applications in Nigeria.
“The workshop will discuss and analyse the responsibilities, use and legal mandates of relevant agencies as well as the impact of the commercial releases of genetically modified crops.
“It will also define the areas of collaboration and potential of these agencies.”
Highlights of the event include the inauguration of the Biosafety Detection Laboratory at the headquarters of National Biosafety Management Agency in Abuja.