The National Biotechnology Development Agency said in Abuja on Wednesday that genetically modified cotton has the potential to revamp the country’s moribund textile industries.
The Director-General of the agency, Prof. Lucy Ogbadu, said this at a sensitisation workshop on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), organised by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) for stakeholders.
She expressed regret that the textile industry, which was the second largest employer of labour in the 1960s, had gone moribund due to susceptible insect attacks on cotton plants.
According to her, before a farmer harvests conventional cotton, he sprays the farm about eight to 10 times but GM cotton can survive with only two herbicide spray.
”GM cotton can reduce exposure of farmers to chemicals and encourage less insect attacks.
”It is through the bio-fortified (BT) cotton that we can revive our textile industries because our farmers will have improved yields.
”Conventional cotton has not addressed the issues that GM will address.
“GMO will not be substitute to the conventional crops,” she said.
On insinuations about the health implications of GMOs, Ogbadu said that there is no link between GMO and cancer.
Earlier in an address of welcome, the Director-General of NBMA, Mr Rufus Ebegba, said the workshop was to allay the fears of the public in view of debates on safety of GMOs.
He quoted the European Union, World Health Organisation and Food and Agriculture Organisation, as saying that GMO has no adverse effect on humans and the environment.
He described as false insinuations that apples, oranges and bananas were genetically modified, adding that they were products of cross breeding by research institutes.
According to him, before any GM food is imported into the country, it must have been certified by those countries.
“NBMA is currently surveying and profiling GM suspects in the country even the ones in supermarkets.
“The agency will not allow any GM material that is harmful to humans and the environment to be released,” he said.
Ebegba said the workshop would be extended to other ministries and agencies to better sensitise relevant stakeholders on the benefits of GMOs.
Also speaking, the Country Representative, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Mrs Rose Gidado, said that biotechnology had come for improvement where the conventional one failed.
Gidado said the technology was a sure way toward tackling global warming and climate change to ensure food security.
Some of the participants told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that they had gathered better knowledge about GMOs from the workshop.