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Monday, February 26, 2024

Biosafety agency to ensure equity in application of modern biotech

The Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr Rufus Ebegba, has said that the agency will ensure that biosafety is applied in a way that the technology does not militate against conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and also the equitable use of resources derived from the use of biological resources.

Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr Rufus Ebegba, with Executive Director of the African Agricultural Technology Fund (AATF), Dr Canisius Kanangire, and NBMA and AATF officials

The DG/CEO, who said this when he met with the Executive Director of the African Agricultural Technology Fund (AATF), Dr Canisius Kanangire, in Abuja on Sunday, November 20, 2021, stated that this equity is ensured through justice and economic benefit to the poeple.

“The principle behind our regulatory system is to build a strong regulatory system that is not biased, that is based on strong science as well and it is on that premise that we carry out our biosafety regulatory functions.

“For us to regulate we ensure that we have strong knowledge background and courage to take decisions in a technology that is controversial to an extent right from the onset.

“It should be noted that our regulatory system is hinged on the  convention of biological diversity and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety which Nigeria signed and subsequently ratified. Biosafety is meant to ensure that measures and approaches are put in place for the safe application of modern Biotechnology and the safe use of the products which are genetically modified organisms.”

Dr Ebegba said  that safe use of the technology can be used to diversify the economy, strengthen the economic base of our farmers, ensure higher yield and to ensure food security in the country.

“We ensure that every institution that is engaged in genetic engineering in Nigeria is accredited to ensure that there are laid down guidelines to develop products. We also ensure that the containment facilities, which are biological laboratories and  green houses also meet our safety standards.

“Institutions that own those facilities must have basic knowledge of Biosafety. we believe that the safe application of this technology will enhance our green economy/ bio-economy to ensure that our environment is safe and climate change is mitigated. We have not relented in the bid to ensure that our regulatory system is strengthened hence the amendment of the act in 2019.”

The DG/CEO harped on the need for capacity strengthening, while commending AATF for it’s efforts in the capacity strengthening efforts of the Agency, noting that more needs to be done in terms of awareness creation and capacity strengthening.

“I hope you will champion the course to ensure that Nigeria is key to your policy direction.”

Executive Director of the AATF, Dr Kanangire, said the essence of the visit to Nigeria was to introduce himself since resumption of office in July and to seek for ways to deepen collaboration and partnership between the NBMA and AATF.

“For me this is the only way to get to meet my partners because partnership is very important in this business. We can’t work alone, the issues we are trying to address are so important and so big for one institution to understand, hence we need every one including the policy makers to come and contribute there bit.

“We are willing to increase the pace as  those who are expecting condition to improve in their lives are many hence the need to keep going. We need a stronger cooperation and partnership,” he said.

Dr Kanangire thanked the DG/CEO for the partnership so far, noting that Nigeria has made history in biotech innovation by cowpea and tela maize commercialisation.

“The work is still enormous but with what is on ground we will give Africa more wings to keep flying,” he said.

The AATF Executive director assured that they would continue to partner NBMA in ensuring that her mandate is achieved, noting that they are willing to work with the two years plan and projection of the agency.

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