FG restates commitment to ensuring biosafety
The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to ensure that only safe Genetically Modified Products will be allowed in the Nigerian market.
The Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba reiterated this commitment at a one day sensitization workshop on biosafety (genetically modified organism’s safety and regulation) in Nigeria, in Lafia the Nasarawa state capital.
The Director General said that the Agency is not resting on its oars in ensuring that only safe and approved genetically modified seed and grains for food and feed processing are allowed into the Nigerian market.
“Since coming into existence, the NBMA has put in place regulations, guidelines and policies to ensure that the products of modern biotechnology (genetically modified organisms) can be deployed safely in Nigeria.
“The NBMA was not created to stop genetically modified organisms (GMOs) but to ensure that Nigerians and the environment are safe from any adverse impact they may have on human health and the environment.
“This workshop is aimed at sensitizing Nigerians on the state of Biosafety in Nigeria with regards to genetically modified organisms and their safety, while updating the general public on the activities of the Federal government in the area of Biosafety management in the country,” he said.
Dr. Ebegba noted that, globally, safe science and technology have been known to be drivers of economic change, “Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind and that is why the federal government through NBMA makes sure it approves only safe application of modern biotechnology for the economic development of the country particularly in the Agricultural sector.”
He added: “The NBMA is very thorough in its dealings and before any approval is granted, the National Biosafety Committee and the National Biosafety technical Committee meet to analyze, deliberate on the product and decisions are taken after careful and thorough analysis of the application. This rigorous process most times extends to days of deliberation and careful analysis.”
Head Planning research and statistics in the NBMA, Mrs Bello Scholastica while giving participants the expected outcomes of the meeting said that the objectives of the workshop include, to clarify the role of NBMA, broaden participants knowledge in understanding the science behind modern biotechnology/Biosafety Policies and Regulatory processes, bring participants up to speed with contemporary issues relating to Biotechnology and Biosafety around the world, bring the participants up to speed with the Laws and Regulations guiding the approval of GM crops and derived products in Nigeria Biosafety Management Act, 2015 (as amended) for better understanding and comprehension, foster confidence in the Agency’s role in ensuring the safety of modern biotechnology applications in accordance with international and national laws and guidelines, strengthen and broaden collaborations in ensuring biosafety in Nigeria and enable stakeholders make informed choices on whether or not to adopt GMOs.
Also speaking, AATF regional representative in west Africa, Dr. Issoufou Kollo in a remark stated that there has been so much talk in Nigeria on Biotechnology and Biosafety and AATF has been in the middle of the debate noting that the AATF is dedicated to having collaborations and establishing partnerships with Government institutions like the various research institutes, the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), NBMA and other institutes that have a stake in Agriculture and the Environment.
Representative of Nasarawa State Ministry of Environment, Mrs Chammang Atinuke (Director Department of Climate Change), expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be at the workshop adding that the Ministry of Environment is always ready to partner with the NBMA.
She said that the Ministry is also doing its best to complement the efforts of the NBMA in the area of conservation of Biodiversity and reiterated the commitment of the Ministry to assist the biosafety agency in any way possible.
Various presentations were made which included GM food safety and globally best practices delivered by principal scientific officer in the NBMA Mr Abisabo Adamu, An overview of modern Biotechnology, its products and Biosafety concerns by Principal Scientific Officer Joy Onwude, Overview of the PBR cowpea research in Nigeria by Dr. Issoufou Kollo, AATF Regional Representative, W/Africa, Biosafety: Imperative for Socioeconomic Development by Bello Scholastica, Head (PRS)-NBMA and the role of the media in Biosafety Communications which was presented by Head Media and Protocol in the NBMA, Gloria Ogbaki.
The workshop had various stakeholders from Nasarawa, academia and the media in attendance.