Timi Olubiyi insists on the need to regulate genetically modified foods

Common social concerns are the high mortality rate, poverty and malnutrition in the country. But for concerns that relate to health, the advice is usually to reduce fat, cholesterol and sugar intake, improve nutrition and good diet, don’t smoke, etc. to avoid health problems. However, the fact is that food is all about health and healthy living, but we hear less about the need to promote the consumption of organic foods, in a world where innovation is now widespread in the agriculture and agriculture, with genetic engineering of crops and foods.

Genetically modified (GM) foods are foods produced from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) whose DNA has been modified by genetic engineering. Genetic modification, also known as genetic engineering, simply means that the DNA of crops and foodstuffs is modified using genes from other plants or animals to achieve specific goals. Scientists take the gene for the desired trait in one plant or animal, and they insert that gene into a cell in another plant or animal. So, with this in mind, natural methods of growing and even mating animals can be circumvented for commercial and business purposes. This concept is quite different from the conventional gestation period and the natural harvest time on the farm.

Scientists take the gene or seed for a desired trait (color, flavor, texture, early ripening, higher yield, and higher yield) in a plant or animal, and they insert that gene into a cell of another plant or from another animal to produce the desired results. I am made to understand that the benefits of this innovation in agriculture include better taste, longer shelf life, better nutrition and quality; increased profits for producers; resistance to viruses and insects; herbicide tolerance and increased food yield to relieve hunger. In addition, the main advantage of this trend is mainly for multiple food productions, although many fish or chickens can also mature faster with this innovation, in the hope of reducing costs, with less environmental resources (such as water). water and fertilizers). The big question and concern is who regulates this process in the country? A place where shortcuts, dumping, profit at all costs are the order of the day, this should be cause for concern. I saw first-generation products such as seedless oranges, corn with a shorter harvest period, plastic-looking tomatoes, toy-like bananas and plantains, ready-to-eat chicken in three months and a host of others mainly due to marketing. The main motive is the profitability of companies involved in improving food production.

Improved food production through genetic modification of food can be everywhere given the economic hardship, dwindling disposable income and low affordability of many. But are there any quality checks or controls on all these GM foods that are freely available in the markets? Who monitors health impacts, if any? Corporations can simply feed the poor, the hungry with this process without any scientific control. In fact, many consumers of these foods are not necessarily aware of the composition of the foods or know that they are in fact consuming genetically modified foods. A quick survey to understand consumer views on genetically modified foods indicated that many were unaware of the concept in agriculture or animal husbandry. In fact, a large number almost 90% of respondents have no idea what the concept means. The response from most of them was “I’m hearing about it for the first time”. This is the main reason for this article, to raise awareness of the growing trend of genetically modified foods and the need to provide guidelines, improve food safety, avoid potential harms and cases of unknown diseases in the world and even in Nigeria. Although the concept can make the food commercially available and allow a higher yield compared to traditional farming, what is important is the quality control and the need to certify it fit for consumption before production in the commercial scale. Because like all new technologies, these foods can also present certain risks, known and/or unknown.

In a country where many reject moral and ethical values, much is expected of research institutes, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Consumer Protection Council and other sister agencies to regulate, control and set standards for genetically modified foods. Although there has been no evidence of harmful or toxic effects from the use of genetically modified foods in the country, the truth is that no one can predict all of its consequences. Currently, public knowledge is low and farmers, food retailers, restaurants and caterers rarely inform customers or consumers about the foods, crops or ingredients they are dealing with, or whether or not they contain genetically modified organisms, because currently there is no law requiring them to do so.

Even though the production of genetically modified foods involves altering nature, the entrepreneurs, companies and farmers involved in this production claim that these foods are safe and without side effects. Conversely, in my opinion, genetically modified foods represent an important innovation and commercial breakthrough in the agricultural sector. Therefore, to a large extent, bountiful harvests and profitability may well be the key driver, so there is a need for regulation.

Thus, effective regulations, standard guidelines and the need to have GM food regulations in the country are timely. I’m just concerned, and I think many should be too, about the safety of the food we eat and the health implications because the majority are poor and what is affordable might not be suitable for consumption. Nevertheless, GM foods have entered our food basket largely through imports or due to the cultivation of GM food crops, it is still right for food regulators at the top of the country to conduct a safety assessment, as this is essential to warding off fear, uncertainty, and doubt (often abbreviated as FUD) among consumers and citizens in the future.

In conclusion, the government and regulators need to put in place a system to regulate locally produced and imported GM food products, as Australia, Brazil, European Union and others regulate GM foods, Nigeria must also do so without exception.

Dr Olubiyi is an expert in entrepreneurship and business management


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