The Director-General, National Biotechnology Technology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Bamidele Solomon, said Nigeria was yet to benefit from the great potentials of biotechnology.
Solomon stated this on Monday in Abuja at the agency’s November edition of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB).
He said it was time for Nigerians to shed their fears ad embrace biotechnology wholeheartedly for the good of the future progenies.
Solomon described biotechnology as the future of agriculture, saying “unless we go on board this fast moving train, we shall never get to our desired destination.
“A place of agricultural dominance and unfathomable growth, a place of hope and plenty, in plain language, the promised land of agriculture,’’ he said.
He said that genetically modified technology had made it possible to produce more food from less land, encouraged less pesticide use and ultimately reduced the environmental impact of agricultural processes, thereby mitigating the effect of climate change.
The director-general listed Golden Rice as one of the feats of genetically modified foods, genetically engineered to produce beta-carotene, the precursor of Vitamin A.
“According to Wikipedia, Vitamin A deficiency is responsible for one to two million deaths, 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness and millions of cases of xerophthamia, annually.
“Clearly Golden rice has the potential to do good for Nigerian children, our future leaders,’’ Solomon said.
A former, Global Anti-GM activist from Oxford-England, Mark Lynas, said biotechnology was not a silver bullet, but technology that could help to address the colliding imperative of population growth, ecological damage and climate change.
Lynas urged those who were still against the adoption of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) not to tie the hands of scientists behind when they want to help in putting food in the mouths of hungry children.
He also urged Nigeria not to curtail its ambitions to develop world-leading innovations that could change the country and the whole 21st century for the better.
Mrs Rose Gidado, the country co-coordinator, OFAB Nigeria, in her remarks said OFAB had been used to increase public awareness on biotechnology in the country particularly among stakeholders including law makers, government, farmers and the media.
Gidado said the agency would not relent in its efforts to increase the awareness of the potential of biotechnology for the eradication of hunger in Nigeria.
She said that increased funding to accelerate awareness level and building the required capacity were important to achieving this.