The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has approved the trial of the first genetically modified rice in Nigeria at the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), Badeggi, Niger.
Mr Rufus Ebegba, the Director-General of the agency, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
Ebegba said that the new genetically modified rice has efficiency in nitrogen and water when compared with the conventional rice.
According to him, the agency has also accredited and certified five institutes to engage in the practice of modern biotechnology.
He identified institutes and companies currently engaging in biotechnology activities as the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, Abia and Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria.
Others are Federal University of Technology (FUTA), Akure, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Abuja, and the National Cereal Research Institute (NCRI), Badeggi, Niger.
Ebegba said the agency gave approval for confined field trials of bio-cassava plus with pro-Vitamin A.
He said that the agency also approved the development of genetically modified cassava resistance to attack by Cassava Mosaic Virus Disease (CMVD) in Umudike, Abia.
The director-general urged all other companies and institutions involved in biotechnology activities to register with the agency, adding that it would begin the prosecution of unregistered companies by January 2016.
“The National Biosafety Agency Act is the only safety net and valve in the adoption of modern biotechnology and the use of GMOs for national development.
“The agency has the capacity to give Nigeria the desired holistic biosafety in a transparent manner, so that the nation can benefit maximally from modern biotechnology without compromising the environment and human health.’’
Ebegba, however, called for the inclusion of biosafety courses universities’ curriculum up to Master’s degree, for better awareness and understanding.