FG authorizes TELA maize to boost food security

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By Fortune Eromosele, Abuja

Nigeria’s quest to introduce insect-resistant, pest-resistant maize varieties has gained federal government approval, with provisions for a genetically modified “TELA” maize, which will improve food security in the country.

The Director General of the National Biosafety Management Agency, NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba, the Director General of the National Biotechnology Development Agency, NABDA, Professor Abdullahi Mustapha and the Executive Director of the Nigerian Institute Research Fellow, IAR, Professor Mohammad Ishyaku, gave their endorsement at the “Drought Resistant Maize and Fall Armyworm (TELA Maize)” Public Presentation in Abuja.

In his remarks, NBMA chief executive Dr Rufus Ebegba said the agency is aware of the controversies still lingering over genetically modified organisms, noting that they have properly screened TELA corn, to ensure safety. human health.

He said GM maize meets all Agency biosafety standards, assuring Nigerians that no harm will be done to their crops and the environment.

“It is on this note that we introduced the need for a public hearing. So that members of the public know what we are doing.

“And also to give candidates the opportunity to speak with members of the public, the media, explaining to the public what the product is, how relevant it is to our national economy and also what are the security measures that have been taken to make sure the process is safe.

“It is essential that every product marketed for commercial purposes meets the required biosafety standards, including compatibility and sustainability in the environment. It must also meet safety standards in the field of human health and also bring us economic benefits. These are the three parameters that the Agency has taken into consideration in recent months.

“The NBMA finds it very important to let the public know about our decisions about what we are about to do at all times,” he explained.

Describing the processes that led to the approval of TELA maize, the CEO said: “We have had three public announcements informing members of the public that we have an application to commercialize a GM maize known as TELA maize. .

“The NBMA also formed two committees, the National Biosafety Committee and the National Sub-Technical Biosafety Committee to do the debt review of this project, and they submitted their various reports, giving us their recommendations. ,

“The Agency also carried out its internal review of the request. This presentation is intended for applicants to further convince the public, as well as to convince the Agency that the application they have filed with the Agency has met all the requirements that can be considered for approval.

Ebegba warned that if there was a reason to withdraw approval, the Agency will not hesitate, as it has a mandate to be transparent at all times.

In the same vein, the director general of the National Biotechnology Development Agency, NABDA, Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha said that the future of agriculture is biotechnology, adding that it will change the discourse in the face of drought. and pests that destroy crops.

He said: “Biotechnology is a technology that is evolving and bringing changes throughout the history of the world, the changes are in medicine and what we see today in agriculture.

“The future of agriculture is biotechnology before we use a conventional way to change the narrative, where it will take longer to get results, but now the world’s population is growing rapidly and available land is shrinking, the way to follow is biotechnology.

“This is why the TELA maize project is very important because the drought caused by climate change will not allow the crops to reach the stage of maturity, but by using this technology, drought can be avoided. “

In addition, the Executive Director of the Nigerian Agricultural Research Institute, IAR, Professor Mohammad Ishyaku, said Nigeria needs to be interested in practicing and harnessing scientific potentials.

“At the heart of everything we do, we must fulfill our mandate as a nation to ensure we provide sustainable solutions to the problems faced by our farmers, in order to harness their potential in the agricultural sector,” he said. he declares.

He noted that the IRA, in partnership with the Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), has brought the project into the limelight.

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