The Nigerian government, via her National Biosafety Management Agency, has given a seven-day ultimatum to two retail store giants, Shoprite and Next Cash ‘N’ Carry. They were given ultimatum to withdraw every product that has what food scientist call GMO i.e. Genetically Modified Organisms. They are to remove them from their shelves or risk being shutdown totally.
The warning was handed out to representatives of the two superstores at a briefing in Abuja on Friday.
The Director-General, NBMA, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, said the agency had received complaints from members of the public about the sale of GMO foods in the two stores.
In his statement he said, they recently carried out a survey of likely GMO products and they have been able to have some collections, some materials that are called GMO suspects. They are called GMO suspects because their full status has not been ascertained.
He said the superstores were invited basically to make them understand that some of their products need to be properly checked before they are brought in, especially the imported ones that are likely to contain genetically modified materials, so that they will not run afoul of the law.
“There is a law in place. We will not want any segment of the society out of ignorance to act in manners that will infringe on the law he said. The Biosafety Management Act empowers the NBMA to regulate the activities of modern biotechnology and the use of genetically modified organisms.” The agency will not find it funny with any of the stores found selling unregistered GMO products in Nigeria.
He called on representatives of the superstores to ensure that all GMO products on their shelves were duly registered by the agency by obtaining permits. He further reiterated that “If they have any GMO food in their stores, they should be withdrawn from their shelves within seven days or face the full wrath of the law.
Dr. Rufus Ebegba told them that samples of their products have been taken which is being analysed in the lab. This information is not peculiar to only the superstores. We are not threatening anybody, we are just telling you the consequences of dealing in GMO products if found in these stores. Within the next seven days, we believe you will withdraw from your shelves all foods that are derived from genetically modified organisms.”
The NBMA boss on a final note added that they should hasten to comply by withdrawing all the GMO foods from their shelves or obtain permits or face the law.
Nigerians are asking if the Nigerian government is ready for the task ahead but we are hopeful that if NAFDAC if fully funded they will handle it properly.