FG SUBJECTS NATIONAL BIOSAFETY GUIDELINES FOR RISK ASSESSMENT AND MANAGEMENT OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED STACKED EVENTS TO REVIEW BY EXPERTS AND STAKEHOLDERS.
TThe National Biosafety Management Agency on the 11th November, 2021 presented guidelines for genetically modified stacked events to experts for relevant inputs that would give the country a robust guiding instrument.
The Director General/CEO National Biosafety Management Agency Dr. Rufus Egegba in an opening remark appreciated all those involved in developing the guidelines to its present stage. He stated that the staff of the agency had put in so much efforts to come up with guidelines and also charged the experts to commit their expertise as they review the document for the National use.
The DG/CEO revealed that the stacked gene event is nothing different from what we have had over the years.
"stacked gene events imply to a situation where an organism has more than a gene for its intended benefits. ‘’Government’s position is not to stop the activities of modern biotechnology but rather to deploy safe cutting edge technology capable to revamp the agricultural sector by way of providing farmers with improved plants and seeds that portend a better economy and National food security".
"However, our sole responsibility as an agency is to ensure that whatever product that results from the practice of modern Biotechnology is safe to human health, animals, plants and the environment’’. Let me categorically state that NBMA would never compromise standards at the expense of the country it is a job of the government to protect its citizens and whatever product that is not safe will not be approved in the country,’’ DG added.
DG said ‘’ our concerns on stacked gene events are based on invasiveness, substantial equivalence, nutritional values and social economic benefits. These are issues we consider at the review which prompts further decision by the NBMA’’.
Dr. Rufus Ebegba
DG also disclaimed the recent false statement on the media where he was misquoted to have referred to those against the recent commercialized Tela maize as terrorists. ‘’That statement did not emanate from me and I want to use this medium to urge media practitioners to always report facts and they should also seek clarification when necessary before publication in order to avoid reporting falsehood’.
Senior Programme Officer AUDA NEPAD Sam Timpo commended the NBMA describing it as the leading light on Biosafety issues in Africa noting that Nigerian Biosafety system has become model for other African countries as they are willing to come to Nigeria and understudy the Nigerian Biosafety system. He also noted the the AUDA NEPAD will continue to support the Nigerian Biosafety in ensuring the proper regulation of modern Biotechnology and it's products.
Country coordinator Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology Dr. Rose Gidado in her remark eulogized the National Biosafety Management Agency on its strict position to ensure that only safe GMOs and their derivatives are permitted in the country. She noted that NBMA is highly known in Africa and beyond especially its confirmed standards and strictness to promote safety of human health, animals, plants and environment while the world is making conscious effort to drive economy with technology that is eco-friendly in order to combat climate change impacts.
AThe Head planning research and statistics National Biosafety Management Agency Mrs. Bello Scholastica in presenting the objectives of the review meeting stated the significance of the review. She noted that it was necessary and timely to have robust National guidelines to checkmate stacked gene events in the country. Mrs. Bello Scholastica was optimistic that at the end of the day the Nigeria would have a refined document that addresses all areas of concerns as it relates to the stacked gene events.
The review meeting was attended by experts made up of line ministries and agencies, foreign partners who joined and participated virtually, nongovernmental organizations and various media organizations.