The organisation, therefore, said it would continue to work with stakeholders to ensure product standardisation and food safety for sustainable economic growth.
A Principal Product Officer with the Lagos Export Office, Patience Afanide, said this on Tuesday during the annual conference and symposium of the Association of Industrial Microbiologists of Nigeria, with the theme, Toxins: Threat to Economic Growth, in Lagos.
Afanide said, “The NEPC is saddled with the task of diversifying Nigeria’s economy through export trade to attain economic growth. We are working with relevant agencies to improve the quality and standards of products for a sustainable economic growth.’’
In her keynote address, the Head, Department of Microbiology, University of Lagos, Prof. Olusinmbo Aboaba, urged government to address the presence of toxins in the environment and food chain. She added that toxins had a lasting effect on economic growth, just as importation and its effects on the exchange rate.
“Looking at the fishing sector, a major problem is inappropriate disposal of waste products. Diverse waste products are indiscriminately discharged into water bodies, thereby causing heavy metals and other toxins to accumulate in fish and other aquatic animals. The heavy metals include lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and arsenic.
“Reports have shown that women of childbearing age who eat sufficient amounts of mercury-contaminated fish are at risk of damaging the brain development of their children.”
In her welcome address, the AIMN President, Dr. Joy Ehiwuogu-Onyibe, said the nation must take product development, manufacturing and agriculture seriously in order to develop. She urged government to subsidise the cost of equipment for analytical laboratories engaged in toxins profiling.
She said, “Government needs to step in and remove tax and duties on needed analytical equipment and reagents to reduce cost. There must be the development of alternative and effective low-cost qualification and quantification protocols by regulatory agencies. There must be funding and establishment of laboratories in different parts of the county where samples can be taken for such analysis at affordable prices.”