NABDA Refutes Claims of Genetically Modified Crops as a National Security Threat
By Lawrence Audu
The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) has vehemently refuted claims that genetically modified seeds pose a national security threat to Nigeria, labeling such assertions as false, misleading, and baseless.
In a formal response to a complaint lodged with the President of the Senate by the Global Profile Alliance under the title “National Security Threat: Biotech Terrorism using GMO Seeds,” signed by Dr. Philip Njemanze, NABDA, through a well-crafted letter, joinedly signed by its Director General/Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, and Prof. Sylvia Uzochukwu, President of the Biotechnology Society of Nigeria, expressed its stance.
The agency’s leadership, along with Prof. Sylvia Uzochukwu, urged the senate to dismiss what they termed “scientifically unfounded advice by the complainant,” emphasizing the positive impacts of genetically modified crops on the well-being of Nigerians.
In a comprehensive response letter, the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) emphasized that genetically modified (GM) crops do not pose a national security threat and are not a form of biotech terrorism. The agency underscored that GM crops undergo rigorous testing and regulation before commercial release to ensure safety for human health and the environment. Moreover, they highlighted that GM crops have been consumed in various regions, including Europe, America, South Africa, China, and other parts of Asia for over 25 years without adverse effects.
Regarding the ban on genetically modified crops by Kenya, cited as an example by the complainant, NABDA clarified that Kenya was misled into imposing the ban in 2012 by uninformed extremist anti-GMO activists. They pointed out that ten years later, in 2022, Kenya was compelled to lift the ban after experiencing severe drought and crop failure, the worst in 40 years.
The agency emphasized that there exists international scientific consensus on the safety of GM crops, upheld by regulatory agencies and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine globally, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), among others. They also highlighted that Nigeria’s genetically modified products have undergone rigorous biosafety assessments before approval for commercial planting.
Furthermore, NABDA emphasized the significant benefits of Transgenic Cowpea and TELA maize, developed by Nigerian scientists, particularly for smallholder farmers.
NABDA highlighted the immense benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops, debunking misconceptions and urging support for policies that promote agricultural innovation.
NABDA emphasized the pivotal role of GM crops in addressing agricultural challenges, such as the destructive pod borers that typically destroy 80% of cowpea crops. The agency pointed out that the resistance found in transgenic cowpea has enabled farmers to significantly boost their yields, providing a promising solution to a longstanding issue. Additionally, NABDA underscored the advantages of TELA maize, which is drought-tolerant and resistant to fall armyworm, empowering farmers to optimize yield and profits.
Furthermore, NABDA shed light on the significant advantages of TELA maize, including increased crop yield, enhanced pest resistance, improved nutritional content, and economic benefits. These advantages were noted to directly contribute to the well-being of Nigerians, highlighting the potential of GM crops to address food security and economic prosperity.
The Agency further urged the Senate to consider the overwhelming international scientific consensus on the safety and benefits of transgenic crops and to continue supporting policies that promote agricultural innovation. This call to action seeks to encourage a forward-looking approach to agricultural development that harnesses the potential of GM crops for the benefit of Nigeria and its people.