The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) revealed on Wednesday that two shipments of genetically modified maize worth millions of dollars were discovered at a seaport in Lagos.

The Director-General of NBMA, Rufus Ebegba, said a vessel arrived at the ENL terminal at the Lagos port with 25,750 metric tons of genetically modified maize worth an estimated $3.7m. Another vessel arrived at the same terminal two days later carrying 42,900 metric tons of maize valued at $6.1m.   

A Nigerian environmental advocacy organization, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), expressed concern over the development, saying it could indicate that Nigeria regularly imports unauthorized foods that go undetected.

“Nigerians should be alarmed at these incidents because whoever imported these illegal shipments may have done so due to the preponderant attitude of government that Nigeria is open to GMOs and that there is nothing to worry about GMOs [genetically modified organisms],” said Nnimmo Bassey, Director of HOMEF.

“This is an indication that more GMO foods and products may have slipped into the country undetected”, he added.

The organization has been advocating for a ban on all GMOs in Nigeria. According to HOMEF, Nigerian farmers can provide enough food for the whole country if they are supported with extension services, processing and storage facilities and adequate infrastructure.

HOMEF urged the Nigeria Customs Service to impound the illegal shipments and called on the NBMA to conduct market audits in order to ensure that foods with genetically modified traits are not smuggled into the country.

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