The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) on Thursday trained its staff to effectively carry out risk assessment for Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) products in the country.
The training which is part of the mandate of NBMA became necessary following growing concerns about the safety of GMOs to humans and the environment.
The Director-General of NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba, while speaking at the training which was held in Abuja, said the training would help participants to understand the various principles behind risk assessment and management.
Ebegba noted that there was need for constant upgrading and strengthening of capacity and proficiency of the agency’s staff to handle challenges associated with GMOs.
According to him, there are three pillars of biosafety risk assessment which he identified as risk assessment, risk management and risk communication.
“The risk assessment is basically to look at any GMO before they are used or deployed for any purpose, to consider whether those GMOs are harmful to human health or to the environment.
“Risk assessment is to determine whether there are harms. If there are risks, to quantify the risks at various levels.
“Also whether there are management strategies to mitigate the risks that are associated with the organization. If there are management strategies, the product can still be adopted.
“This training basically is to enable the staff of the Agency to develop the capacity to carry out risk assessment review.
“Any GMO that are being introduced, the applicant is expected to carry out the risk assessment and the dossier is very crucial to the Agency, for us to review the findings to identify whether there are risks, and if there are risks, we will find out whether it can be managed,’’ he explained.
Mrs Bello Scholastica, Head, Planning, Research and Statistics Department of NBMA, said that it was important to carry out risk assessment because of the concerns about GMOs products for safety of humans and the environment.
“This training is to ensure that we have a crop of young men and women who are able to effectively carry out a risk assessment, so that whatever GMO is approved in Nigeria, it is 100 per cent sure to be safe for humans and the environment,’’ she said.
Also, Ehikwe Darlington of Native Base Limited enjoined the participants to pay attention to the training for them to identify the hazard associated with GMOs and its management.