The Director General/CEO National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Dr. Rufus Ebegba has said that the federal government is conscious of the controversies surrounding modern biotechnology activities. Dr Ebegba who stated this at a one-day capacity training of lawyers on biosafety matters, said core to the convention on biological diversity is the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and equitable sharing of benefits deriving from genetic resources.
“Nigeria is a party to this convention, ratified by the National assembly and its domestication was ensured and must be sustained. The controversies and fear accompanying modern biotechnology activities were what the treaty on the convention of biological diversity and the subsequent treaties address’’.
DG/CEO of NBMA, Dr. Rufus Ebegba
The National Biosafety Management Agency since inception has granted permits for both confined field trials of modification and so far, four permits for commercial release were given, DG disclosed. DG also added that the Federal government is capitalizing on safe science and technology to boost the economy through food production and the place of the Agency (NBMA) is to serve as umpire in ensuring that activities resulting from modern biotechnology and the emerging biotechnologies do not pose threat to human health and biodiversity.
He noted that, ‘’no doubt the competence of the Agency shows in all we do. We have been able to develop so many guidelines so far and we are presently working on a lot more’’.
The DG/CEO recognized the genuine commitment and the unwavering support of the legal team standing in for the agency during the litigation against the Agency. “Let me state that this training was aimed at strengthening your capacity in preparation for the task ahead, your role is never undermined and I must urge all of us to get acquainted with the flow of things in the modern biotechnology sector so that we can continue putting in place necessary laws and guidelines to protect our Nation.
Dr. Rose Gidado A deputy Director with the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) and country coordinator, Open Forum for Agricultural Biotechnology, in a presentation noted that the world at large and Nigeria as a country is facing an unprecedented situation. She said, ‘’it is crystal clear that the world today is confronted with food inadequacy but ingenious idea like modern and emerging biotechnology in agriculture would improve food production. I am confident about the competence of the National Biosafety Management Agency team in the regulation of modern biotechnology and let me state that the developed guidelines are all about safe deployment of the technology.
Dr. Gidado added that, modern biotechnology and the emerging modern biotechnology will solve so many challenges affecting agriculture which will in ripple effect stop the health challenges faced by farmers from spraying of chemicals and low income caused by infestation of farm products from pest and diseases.
A human right activist Barrister Frank Tietie lauded the NBMA for their strategic position in Nigeria and how fast they have come in putting in place regulatory measures to ensure safe biotechnology activities. He added that Nigeria could have been a dumping ground for unregulated biotechnology products and it was a proactive decision from the government, he said. The one-day training was attended by over twenty lawyers from the Agency and those drawn from line ministries and sister Agencies