The Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS) declared this week that genetically-modified foods are safe for consumption.
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The NAS, citing overwhelming evidence from developed countries and thousands of studies, said the country was ready for the products and that they were safe for production and beneficial to the nation.
The academy noted that the technology, although it does leave some fearful and concerned, would be useful to the country because of its potential to boost the nation’s agriculture, which could help food insecurity.
These statements reaffirmed the path forged in 2015 with the passage of a Biosafety Law by the Nigerian National Assembly and its signing by former President Goodluck Jonathan.,
Nigeria is now poised to join Egypt, Burkina Faso, South Africa and Sudan as the only nations in Africa to cultivate genetically engineered crops.
Although no GE crops are presently being grown commercially, the government has sanctioned several trials, which if successful could result in the greenlighting of insect-resistant Bt cotton, cowpea (a legume) and corn; disease resistant and Vitamin A cassava; and nitrogen and water efficient rice.
There is also strong and growing support in the farming community for the use of GMOs, said Chris Onwuka, the National Vice President of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFN).
“The truth is that without biotechnology, we cannot feed ourselves. By 2030, Nigeria’s population will have crossed 250 million.
“Without a technological intervention, and with a continuous decrease in arable land due to urbanization, desertification and erosion of farmer’s yield are only going to decrease.” ■
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