Nigeria has no GMO food, says minister


The Nation (Nigeria)

TheMinister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, yesterday debunked the presence of Genetically Modified Organism, GMO, food in Nigeria.

Adesina said this in Abuja when a delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency,IAEA, led by the Deputy Director-General, Dr. Kwaku Anings, paid him a visit in his office.

The minister said Nigeria was ready to partner the IAEA to boost food production.

He allayed the fears of positive effects of using atomic energy to ensure food security and availability in the country.

Adesina said: "We must never be afraid of atomic technology in food production. We want to raise productivity, good health and environmental sustainability. We must not listen to those who want to create fear in the minds of people on things they should not be scared about with half-baked knowledge.

"We must not be afraid of science. We can use science to make our food safe and for the issue of food security. We must be aware that technology is the only way we can open up opportunities and we have to understand the risks and put good regulations in place to reduce those risks.

"The fact remains that we have nothing in this country called GMO. People confuse modern day science to GMOs. People say hybrid maize is from GMO, but it is from conventional maize.

"Our rice, wheat, cassava varieties are not GMOs. It is important we don't confuse issues because we don't have GMOs in NIgeria, but we use modern technology and will continue to use modern technology. "

The minister said the IAEA should assist in training staff of the ministry for capacity building and also assured the delegate of the ministry's commitment to the earlier signed agreement on technical cooperation which was from 2012-2017.

Head of the IAEA's delegation, Dr. Kwaku Aning, said the agency was not into GMO food production, but to fast track the yield of crops as it had done in countries like Tanzania, Vietnam and Kenya.

"We do the same thing with those into GMO food. We speed up evolution and we don't change the method. We speed up the evolution of the crop, maybe, which would have taken 50 years. We produce other species of the crop that will be drought and pest resistant.

"We have developed species that are cold water resistant. In Vietnam and Bangladesh, they are using rice that is developed in our laboratory and is thriving in salt water. The potential of this technology is very large," Aning said.

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