Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Alex Akpa, says Nigeria has made significant strides in advancing the practice of biotechnology to enhance economic development.
Akpa said this at the opening of a five-day workshop on Basic Laboratory Training on Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) Detection and Identification on Monday, September 16, 2019 in Abuja, hosted by NABDA.
Prof. Oyekanmi Nash, Director, Genetic, Genomics and Bioinformatics Department, NABDA, represented the director-general at the occasion.
Akpa said the country and the agency had achieved a lot in the practice of biotechnology under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
“A programme such as this is indeed crucial, relevant and could not have come at more auspicious time,” he said.
According to him the hosting of the workshop also became relevant as part of the efforts to find solution to the issues of perception and safety besetting the adoption of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) technology.
The director-general said the importance of the workshop could not be overemphasis because of its to the global challenges in various aspects of human endeavour, even in the face of resource constraints.
“The rich and diverse composition of international resource persons, drawn from different parts of the world will provide sound intellectual platform for the best delivery of current and impactful knowledge on the subject.
“I therefore urge all participants to use this opportunity to deepen their knowledge and skills toward being better advocates for GMOs technology and biotechnology in general in their various countries,’’ he said.
Dr Rufus Ebegba of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) assured Nigerians of safe application of modern biotechnology to boost the economy and enhance environmental sustainability.
Ebegba said Nigeria believed in the application of safety modern biotechnology for enhancement of the economy, industrial development, growing of medical field, agriculture and other spheres of human endeavours.
He said the agency has developed strong national biosafety system to apply biotechnology without affecting human health and biodiversity.
According to him, Nigeria has signed and domesticated the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety by providing legal and administrative instrument for its implementation.
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international treaty governing the movements of Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology from one country to another.
It was adopted on Jan.29 2000 as a supplementary agreement to the Convention on Biological Diversity and entered into force on Sept. 11, 2003.
Mr Austein Mcloughlin, a representative of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), Canada said the secretariat had been building capacity of developing countries.
He said in recognising the importance of implementing the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the secretariat had been collaborating with relevant agencies to achieve the feat.
“We have been building the capacity of the developing countries in relation to protection and identification of LMOs and other biosafety related discipline.
“Thanks to kind support and contribution of the government of Nigeria and Republic of Korea for providing financial assistance for this workshop and ICGEB,’’ he said.
Mcloughlin, however, urged participants to put the knowledge gained during the workshop into practice for the service of their countries and in support of the implementation of Cartagena protocol on biosafety.
Dr Toyin Ajenifujah-Solebo, Deputy Director, Agricultural Biotechnology Department, said the aim of the workshop was to provide participants with understanding of the processes involved in the development of GMOs and LMOs.
Ajenifujah-Solebo also said the workshop would provide the participants with new GMOs/LMOs analysis as well as hands-on-experience in the performance of relevant laboratory methods.
No fewer than 30 participants from Africa are attending the workshop.
By Cecilia Ologunagba