The Federal Government, through its National Biosafety Management Agency, has issued a seven-day ultimatum to retail store giants, Shoprite and Next Cash ‘N’ Carry to withdraw any product that contains Genetically Modified Organisms from their shelves or risk a total shutdown.
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.
He stated, “Recently, we carried out a survey of likely GMO products and we have been able to have some collections, some materials that we call GMO suspects. We call them GMO suspects because we have not been able to ascertain their status.
“Why we have invited the superstores basically is for them to understand that some of their products need to be properly ascertained before they are brought in, especially the imported ones that may 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. The Biosafety Management Act empowers the NBMA to regulate the activities of modern biotechnology and the use of genetically modified organisms.”
According to him, the agency will not hesitate to shut down any of the stores found selling unregistered GMO products in the country.
Edegba 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 said, “If they have any GMO food in their stores, they should withdraw them from their shelves within seven days. The NBMA will not hesitate to shut down those stores found selling GMO products. We will not want to see any GMO food in your stores. We urge you to comply with this Act.
“We have taken samples, which we are analysing. 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 added, “Please, it is an advice and this advice is not without a legal backing. So we urge you to withdraw all GMO foods from your shelves and formalise your dealings by obtaining permits.