- GET, Genome Editing Technology, is another word for GMO, Genetically Modified Organisms
The Director-General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha, announced on Tuesday, 11th July 2023, that Nigeria is on the verge of rolling out genome editing technology in its agriculture sector. This they claim is a pivotal move in the effort to enhance productivity and bolster food security in the nation.
Prof. Mustapha made this announcement in Abuja, during the initiation of a validation workshop designed to review the draft of the national strategy and action plan for genome editing communication and advocacy. The strategy, once validated, will pave the way for the technology’s implementation in Nigeria.
Allegedly the implementation of this technology is expected to boost agricultural productivity, alleviate poverty, enhance nutritional value, reduce crop vulnerability, and minimize dependence on pesticides and fertilizers.
The Director-General of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Agnes Asagbra, emphasized that researchers must adhere to guidelines to prevent negative impacts on health and well-being. The NBMA has also established a partnership with Customs to prevent the entry of unlicensed genome-edited products into Nigeria. The workshop aimed to develop a workable action plan for effective communication of the benefits, risks, and ethical considerations associated with genome editing to the Nigerian public. Prof Olalekan Akinbo of AUDA-NEPAD highlighted the need for Africa to embrace innovation and for policymakers to recognize the potential benefits of genome editing technology.
As the current government makes a case for tackling food security in Nigeria, using genetic manipulation technology, with the notoriety and public stigma attached to GMO food, observers are wondering why Nigerian public officials feel the need to take such grave risks, when the African soil and climate have sustained Africans with ease for thousands of years
IMAGE: COE International