The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) says it is embarking on nationwide surveys of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products for effective regulation in Nigeria.

The agency’s director-general, Dr Rufus Ebegba, made this known during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja.

He said the exercise was to make sure that importers of GM products, seeds and grains, formalize their dealings with the agency to ensure their operations are in accordance with biosafety regulations and guidelines for the nation, saying those that contravene the directive would be severely sanctioned.

The NBMA boss stated that the agency had entered into strategic collaborations with sister agencies for effective regulation of the sector.

“As part of efforts to expand our monitoring and surveillance, the agency has signed various memoranda of understanding with some sister agencies such as Voice of Nigeria, Standards Organization of Nigeria, Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, National Seed Council and we are in process of completing MoU with Nigerian Customs Service, Varietal Release Committee and the Department of Veterinary and Pest Control Services under the Ministry of Agriculture.

“The agency has also partnered with other organizations locally and internationally in efforts to ensure that we achieve our mandate of safeguarding human health and the environment. As part of our partnership efforts we have interacted with Interpol and they gave us some work equipment to further enhance our work. We are also working very closely with the Nigerian Customs through the Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System which would allow the agency to get prior notification before GMOs are imported into the country,” he said.

He further revealed that about 26 states had set up biosafety desks to further strengthen surveillance and monitoring especially in states that are close to the boarders.

He stated: “I want to use this medium to assure Nigerians that the agency is doing everything possible to ensure that we are all safe. Let me say this categorically that whatever the agency say is safe is indeed safe. Nigerians should learn to trust the Federal Government and allow the agency do what will be in their best interest. Nigerians need not be afraid as their health and wellbeing is paramount in the mind of the agency.”