Director General of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Rufus Ebegba has identified Biotechnology as a veritable tool for economic advancement.
The Director General made this assertion today in Abuja while inaugurating a 6-man Technical Committee charged with the responsibility of reviewing the application dossier for the release of Genetically Modified Cotton for on farm trial and Maize for confined field trial.
According to him, “with biotechnology we can feed our population, we can attain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with this modern technology we can create employment in line with the goals of the federal government, with biotechnology we can grow our economy beyond mere sustenance to existential strategy to the point of becoming a global major player in food importation “.
Speaking further, Ebegba said it became imperative to set up the Committee in order to ensure the safety of the products both to human health, animal health and the environment.
First of such applications to be presented for consideration since the establishment of the Agency in 2015, the Director General stated that when correctly used the modern technology have the potential of reducing pest problems with economic and environmental benefits.
“Though the best technology is used in the production of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)but this can only be done within the confines of the law to ensure that the GMOs have no adverse effects” he said.
He therefore charged the Committee to be thorough and diligent in the consideration of the applications and take decisions that will promote the wellbeing of the country bearing in mind that the National Biosafety Management Agency has the responsibility to create and monitor the biosafety standards that must be met in order to prevent any accidental release of potentially harmful biological materials.
He maintained that as regulators, the NBMA will not compromise standards stressing that the role of the Agency is not to promote GMOs but safety of genetically modified organisms. “I will only defend what I know is safe, I will only sing the song of safety” he added.
In his remarks, the representative of the African Biosafety Network of Experts (ABNE) an affiliate of NEPAD, Samuel Timpo commended the Federal Government for the holistic approach adopted to ensure safety in the use of modern technology. He also lauded the initiative to involve other national experts with diverse expertise in the process. According to him, as giant of Africa, once Nigeria gets it right, it will change the face of Africa in the area of GMOs.
He therefore charged the Committee to borrow copiously from established global best practices in the consideration of the applications.
Membership of the Committee is drawn from, the academia, Federal Ministries and Agencies.
The Committee has two applications before it from Monsanto Agricultural Nigeria ltd for the environmental release and commercial placement of Bt Cotton into Zaria and its environs and the confined field trail of genetically modified maize into multiple locations in Nigeria.
Head of Press