The Federal Government, through its National Biosafety Management Agency, on Wednesday said that a recent survey carried out on some major superstores in the country revealed that the outfits were ignorantly selling foods that were genetically modified to their customers.
It stated that Shoprite and Next Cash ‘N’ Carry superstores were identified as two major outfits that sold GMO foods to customers without getting approval from the NBMA.
The discovery, according to the government, led to the ultimatum that was issued to the companies two months ago, mandating them to recall the GMO foods from their shelves or face tough sanctions.
In October, the Federal Government issued a seven-day ultimatum to retail store giants, Shoprite and Next Cash ‘N’ Carry, to withdraw any product that contained GMOs from their shelves or risk a total shutdown.
The warning was handed out to representatives of the two superstores in Abuja by the Director-General, NBMA, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, who at the time revealed that the agency received complaints from members of the public about the sale of GMO foods in the stores.
Speaking during a briefing at the headquarters of the agency in Abuja on Wednesday, Ebegba said after the ultimatum, a careful survey was carried out on the superstores.
He said the survey showed that the organisations were selling GMO foods to Nigerians without knowing.
Ebegba said, “On the issue of labelling, the Act is very clear about it; all GMOs in the country will be labelled. It is mandatory. And as for the superstores, on whether the products there have been labelled or not, after the survey we carried out, we found out that some of them were actually labelled as containing GMO ingredients.
“Why we directed that they should recall these products from the shelves was because they were not approved by the agency. And you will agree with me that this is very new. It may interest you to also know that the superstores did not even know what they were selling.
“But that does not mean that these products were bad. They had been approved from other countries that they are coming from, but needed to be approved again by the Nigerian legal system for us to confirm their status so as to know whether to accept or reject them.”