Nigerian legislators have given their support behind activities of the country's biosafety agency in regulating modern biotechnology and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Chairman House Committee on Environment and Habitat Honorable Obinna Chidoka said the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) is acting in accordance with the law and is completely backed by the National Assembly.

 

Speaking during the Committee's oversight visit to the NBMA in Abuja, Hon. Chidoka commended the Agency for being a regional leader in facilitating a strong biosafety system and an example to be emulated by countries adopting modern biotechnology.

 

Hon. Aishatu Dukku, a member of the Committee, lauded the Agency for granting approval for commercial release of pod borer-resistant (PBR) Bt cowpea in the country. She exuded confidence that Bt cowpea will offer farmers viable solutions to insect attacks on their beans and reduce their dependence on 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," assured Hon. Dukku.

 

NBMA Director General (DG) Dr. Rufus Ebegba applauded the Committee's effort in ensuring a holistic biosafety framework by proposing an amendment to the National Biosafety Management Agency Act 2015 to include emerging technologies. The proposed bill seeks to expand the scope of the Act to include evolving aspects of biotechnology such as gene drivesgene editing, 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," said the DG.

 

During the visit, the Committee members were also updated on the status of the Agency's upgraded state-of-the-art Genetic Modification Detection and Analysis Laboratory.

 

For more information, contact Dr. Rufus Ebegba at rebegba@gmail.com, or read the NBMA Press Release.