Members of staff of Nigeria’s consumer protection body, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) have converged on Abuja, Nigeria’s capital Thursday for a one-day sensitization workshop aimed at equipping them with more knowledge on Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) and its Products.
The workshop put together by the Nigerian chapter of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) with support from the National Biotechnology Development Agency of Nigeria (NABDA) comes after a similar workshop was held for lawyers in the country with the aim of putting the emerging technology in proper context in the face of the rampant public misconception caused by opponents of the technology.
The workshop, according to Dr. Rose Gidado Deputy Director, NABDA/Country Coordinator, OFAB in Africa, Nigeria Chapter is to provide accurate and up to date information about advances in the biotechnology sector since its adoption in Nigeria in order to ensure that they are fully acquainted with facts about GMOs
“This workshop is to build consumers’ confidence in biotech and their products and let FCCPC know the facts and myths about genetically modified crops, to demystify biotechnology concept and address issues of misunderstanding in the face of opposition from anti GM groups,” Dr. Gidado said.
Speaking further, the Nigerian Country Coordinator of OFAB said it was organized to also create a process for creating public awareness about the opportunities and challenges presented by biotechnology development as well as for promoting dialogue amongst scientists, the biotechnology industry, policy makers and the public.
In a further justification of the workshop, Dr. Gidado said, “The need for Safe Biotechnology application, especially in Agriculture is integral in the roadmap towards achieving the set objectives of improving productivity, quality of food crops and income of farmers. It is important to sensitize the FCCPC on these benefits to counter most health related claims made by the antis.”
She said awareness through specialized workshops as this would help popularize the technology concept and secure sufficient buy-in from individuals.
Executive Vice Chairman of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera who described the commission as a federal government agency set up to promote and protect the rights of consumer said the Commission’s mandate covers all goods and services, including products of modern biotechnology, including Genetically Modified (GM) foods.
“FCCPC ensures that only safe, good quality and standard products, including genetically modified foods, are found in the market for consumption; as well as ensuring fairness in the market place by disbanding monopolistic tendencies,” the FCCPC Executive Vice Chairman who was represented by the Executive Commissioner in charge of operations at the Commission, Dr. Adamu Ahmed stated.
While giving credence to the safety of GM products, he said, “The foundation of consumers’ concerns about GM food is safety. There is need to protect consumers from problems such as allergens, pesticide residues, microbiological contaminants, Necessary risk assessment is carried out on GM food on case by case basis for safety purposes and studies have shown that GM foods are not less safe than conventional food.”