The Director General/CEO National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Dr. Rufus Ebegba, has said that the federal government is ready to develop a guidance document that will help in the regulation of stacked Gene organisms in Nigeria.
Dr. Ebegba who disclosed this at a 2-Day meeting on the development of a guidance document on risk assessment of, and decision making on GM plants stacked transformation events, held in Abuja on the 27th and 28th of July 2021, reiterated the firm position of NBMA as a watch dog over the activities of modern biotechnology in the country.
“stacked Gene organisms are nothing different from what we have had over times and the technology is a step further in the manipulation of genes of organisms for their intended benefits. It is a modification that has more than one gene in a particular organism’’.
Dr. Rufus Ebegba
He also disclosed that the Agency from next month would start the process and pledged a reflection of expertise by the time the drafted guidelines would be ready for the public to use. Dr. Ebegba further assured Nigerians that only GMOs that have been confirmed to be safe by the regulatory body would be allowed in Nigeria as Nigeria is adopting safe technology that would enhance our socioeconomic needs and also guarantee a prosperous economy as a sign of keeping pace with the global efforts in economic diversification and the use of cutting-edge technology in driving economy-cum-agriculture specifically, for higher productivity and wealth creation.
“The previous guidelines developed have been tested to measure up to the global standard. The level of human resources in the agency is a thing to be proud of. The agency is blessed with the calibre of staff it has, and each and every one of them has been instrumental to the success story of the agency since inception. In the same vein, I honestly believe that the agency would have a template for the rest of Africa in no distant time.”
Dr. Ebegba also disclosed the government’s resolve for training and retraining of the staff as a way of building more confidence in the system. The country representative for Program for Biosafety Systems Dr. Matthew Dore in his address recognized the unquantifiable effort of NBMA in its six years of existence. While urging the NBMA to maintain its tempo in leading Africa in Biosafety matters, he also noted that the Agency under the auspices of the Honourable minister of environment with the huge support of the government has achieved a lot and has made Nigeria proud among countries in Africa and beyond.
“Other African countries today are looking up to Nigeria for guidance and recommendations viz-a-viz biosafety matters’’ he added. Director African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) AUDA-NEPAD Dr. Jeremy ouedraogo in a remark said the immense advantages of stacked genes makes it important to be adopted and properly regulated to ensure the smooth practice devoid of health threats to human health and the ecosystem. He noted that science is based on proof and evidence, ‘’the regulation of this novel dimension of the technology would be based on concrete proofs and when released would be safe and remain safe for human use. It is a new way of having improved products for our common good. I count on Nigeria Biosafety system; it is always showing the rest of African countries the way and I look forward to seeing a sound guideline that will lead scientists and those dealing in GMOs on how to go about stacked gene products ’’. The two-day meeting had in attendance stakeholders, line ministries, sister Agencies and international partners who joined online. In attendance were representatives from Canada, Argentina, South African Ghana and USA.