By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Dr. Rufus Ebegba has said that despite challenges, the Agency has remained resilient in the bid to ensure safe delivery and application of modern Biotechnology and its products.
A press release from the Agency signed by Gloria Ogbaki, Head, Press and Protocol Unit said that the DG made this known at the 2nd edition of training and interactive workshop for Legal Officers on Biotechnology and Biosafety in Nasarawa state (9th march) 2021).
The DG noted that NBMA is delivering on its promise to ensure safety of human health and the environment in the deployment of modern biotechnology for the growth of the Nigerian economy.
“The Agency has continued and will continue to ensure safety to humans, animals, environment and agriculture, economy, ensure biosecurity, build public confidence in safe product of the technology, carry out risk assessment and risk management and make decisions based on best available science while maximizing benefits and minimizing risks”.
“Since inception, the NBMA has fulfilled her mandate in ensuring safety by establishing Biosafety Operational and Implementing Instruments, which include regulations and guidelines, we have Created a well-equipped National GM detection and analysis Laboratory, development of effective Communication Channels, accreditation of Institutions for modern biotechnology activities, certification of containment facilities and have granted Permits for commercial release genetically modified crops.
We have also encouraged Synergy among Stakeholders for effective regulation of GMOs and their Products, we have well trained staff who have attended local and international trainings making them capable for the job”.
“The DG/CEO said NBMA is well positioned to ensure safety in the use of modern biotechnology by providing a holistic approach in the regulation of genetically modified organisms, provide an enabling environment for indigenous and foreign scientists to practice modern biotechnology safely under a robust legal framework, open new avenues for research institutes and the entire biotech industry to break new grounds that will enhance the various sectors of the economy .
“Dr. Ebegba said contrary to the view of a group, the law establishing the NBMA was not rushed as Nigeria has been a major global player in the issues of Biosafety since 1992 and in 2000, signed the biosafety agreement known as the Cartagena protocol on Biosafety.
The protocol mandates its members to domesticate it by setting up an agency to regulate activities of modern biotechnology hence the establishment of NBMA which is to ensure that modern Biotechnology and its products do not cause harm to human health and the environment.’
Legal adviser of the Agency, Mrs Nkiruka Onyolofor-Aja while speaking on the purpose, objectives and expected outcomes of the workshop, said the workshop is a follow up training for legal officers as part of its capacity building and capacity strengthening drive.She said the training is geared towards enhanced knowledge and understanding of the science, processes and procedures as it relates to the practice of modern Biotechnology and Biosafety, to learn about biosafety policies, regulations and the legal issues involved in international and national biosafety regulatory frameworks.
“The legal adviser said the training is also expected to nurture a new generation of experts who will provide Nigeria’s Biosafety authority with solid legal advice and guidance while sharing best practices and policies on Biosafety, and identify strengths and weaknesses of the biosafety system in Nigeria.
“The two-day (9-10th March 2021) workshop had an array of speakers from various parts of Africa who gave presentations on the regulation, the science and treaties/conventions guiding Biosafety globally.
“The workshop also had participants drawn from legal officers of various private legal firms and line Ministries and agencies in attendance.”