The Director General/CEO, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr Rufus Ebegba, has said that that the agency is well equipped to ensure the proper regulation of modern biotechnology in the country.
Dr Ebegba, who spoke at the 5th National Biosafety Conference on Wednesday, December 4, 2019 in Keffi, Nasarawa State, said that the NBMA was established to serve as a safety gauge for the practice of modern biotechnology in Nigeria and ensure the technology is utilised for economic development. The conference was organised by NBMA in collaboration with the Nasarawa State University, Keffi.
The DG stated that modern biotechnology is a powerful tool which needs adequate regulation in harnessing its benefits to ensure safety to human and animal health, and the environment. Hence, he added, the United Nations came up with protocols to address the potential adverse effects that could arise from the application of the technology and use of its products.
Ebegba highlighted the activities of the agency, as well as the achievements, and stated that the NBMA is very much involved in ensuring that biotechnology contributes positively to the national economy.
He stressed the need to translate knowledge into production, job creation and economic growth; noting that the agency was working on calling a stakeholders’ meeting to strategise on how to address the new areas included in its mandate.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of Nasarawa State University, Prof. Suleiman Bala Mohammed, lauded the DG/CEO of NBMA for bringing the conference to the institution, and considered it an honour and privilege to host the event. According to him, the conference is consistent with the university’s mandate to facilitate cross fertilisation of ideas.
The VC acknowledged that products of modern biotechnology are controversial due to lack of proper communication and understanding. He, therefore, charged NBMA to step up its awareness campaign to ensure Nigerians fully understand the benefits that the technology has to offer.
Representative of the Nasarawa State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Hadija Sabo Jemita, stressed the need for increased awareness of the agency’s mandate, as well as aggressive media campaigns to counter non-scientific and ignorant views of biotechnology and biosafety.
She recommended that biotechnology should be introduced early in schools to ensure that people understand the concept right from the beginning.
Also speaking, Commissioner of Environment, Nasarawa State, who was represented by Chammang Atinuke, commended the agency for working to ensure safety in harnessing the benefits of modern biotechnology and its derivatives. She also commended the agency for applying the Precautionary Principle in achieving its mandate.
The two-day conference, with the theme “Biosafety Management in Nigeria: Panacea for Economic Growth and Development”, attracted participants from universities all over the country, and civil society groups, amongst others.