EPA Dedicates Genetically Modified Organisms Detection Laboratory

By Abraham S. sollie/GNN Reporter

Johansen T. Voker Manager National Focal Point Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety
Johansen T. Voker
Manager National Focal Point Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry at the weekend formally dedicated a Genetically Modified Organizations (GMOs) laboratory.

The newly dedicated GMOs laboratory is situated at the National Standards Laboratory (NSL) in the compound of the Ministry of Public Works in Monrovia where the dedicatory ceremony was held.

Giving an overview of the EPA new GMOs laboratory, the National Project Coordinator, Mr. Johansen T. Voker, said that the facility will be used to for the detection of Genetically Modified Organisms that could be introduced into the Liberian environment.

Mr. Voker stated that the laboratory establishment of the laboratory is aimed at making Liberia to join the World in Global food crisis.

Mr. Voker asserted that scientists, with the help of GMOs are now able to transplant genes from one plant to another in order to produce more food.

He disclosed that the establishment of the laboratory is in line with the agreement of United Nations member states to come up with a protocol aimed at making sure that the GMOs be used properly and effectively in helping to solve the world food problem.

The project, which he added that started in 2011, will put Liberia in a better position to test detect, and make sure that anything coming in the country will not affect the people.

In her dedicatory remarks, EPA Executive Director, Madam Anyaa Vohiri, stated that the facility will be used to assess potential adverse impact of Genetically Modified Organisms that could be introduced into the Liberian environment.

“We are happy to inform you that the lab facility that we have gathered here to dedicate has been made possible through collaboration by means of a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) and the EPA. Under the MOU, the EPA with support from the United Nations Environment Programmes and the Global Environment Facility (UNEP-GEF), provided scientific equipment and additionally, will provide training for the laboratory staff in the detection and analysis of GMO. The facility is a state-of-the art modern biotechnology lab fully equipped to conduct GMO detection and analysis,” said Madam Vohiri.

She revealed that about US$200,000 was used to purchase the equipment placed in the lab.

She furthered that the main objectives of the new GMOs Lab include facilitating detection of GMOs seeds that may be introduced into the Liberia environment and ensuring the safety of GMOs and grain commodity that may enter the commerce of Liberia.

The EPA added: “The development of GMOs began some thirty years ago as scientific breakthrough in biotechnology/genetic engineering. It must be appreciated that modern biotechnology is now one of the scientific tools that many countries are employing to enhance their agriculture production in the wake of population explosion, environmental stresses, and the rising cost of food. As a food deficit country, we may wish to adopt and develop this technology.  In fact, genetically modified crops are being grown in many neighboring countries such as Mali, Ghana, and Burkina Faso.”

She indicated that there are concerns over the potential risks in the agronomic attributes of GMOs to the environment and human health something she said prompted parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity to  have adopted and signed the Cartagena Protocol  on Biosafety to ensure safe transfer and use of GMOs.

She among other things cautioned that Liberians be mindful of the potential harm to the country’s biodiversity that she said could arise from the application of the new Biotechnology stating: “balancing food security needs and ensuring environmental sustainability is a serious and delicate task, but it is doable.”

For his part, the Head of the National Standard Laboratory (NSL), Mr. Stephen Mambu, stated that the launch of the of the GMOs Lab is in line with the NSL’s made of providing quality assessment.

Mr. Mambu among other things said that he was happy over the dedication of the lab in that it will further strengthen the significance of the NSL.

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About Cholo Brooks 14306 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.