By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The National Assembly has thrown its weight behind the National Biosafety Management Agency, (NBMA) effort in regulations of biotechnology in the country.
Chairman, House Committee on Environment and Habitat, Honourable Obinna Chidoka stated this while addressing the management team of NBMA during an oversight visit by the Committee to the Agency in Abuja on Monday (25th March).
Hon. Chidoka urged antagonists of to keep in mind that the Agency is acting in accordance with the law and is completely backed by the National Assembly.
“We have and will continue to give full support to NBMA as it is a very important Agency which was established by law and acts accordingly.”
He commended the Nigerian biosafety system as being very strong compared to that of many countries who also practice modern biotechnology and used the opportunity to invite members of the Public to a public hearing of the amendment of the National Biosafety Management Agency Act 2015 to include new and emerging technologies such as gene drive and gene editing, which will hold on 27th March, 2019 at the national assembly.
Director General/CEO NBMA, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, who gave a brief of the recent activities of the Agency, applauded the effort of the committee in ensuring a holistic biosafety framework by proposing an amendment to the National Biosafety Management Agency Act 2015 to include emerging technologies such as gene drive and synthetic biology.
“We have a great responsibility in an ever expanding sector and we must fine-tune the law to regulate emerging technologies in the biotechnology sector.”
A member of the committee, Aishatu Dukku, commended the staff and management of NBMA for working excellently in the face of adversity
“Farmers are desperate to find solutions to insect attacks on their beans farms. While they are offered solutions in the form of more pesticides which are used excessively, recently, a new beans variety which is genetically modified was developed promising to reduce the insect attacks while reducing the use of pesticides. Your activities as a safety and regulatory agency, which has confirmed this variety safe for Nigerians, are in the interest of the common man and I must commend that.
Members of the Committee later inspected the upgraded state-of-the-art Genetic Modification Detection and Analysis Laboratory of the Agency.