The signing of the Biosafety Act into law in 2015 and the subsequent approval of the commercialization of two-way species in 2018 marked the willingness of Nigeria to play in the biotech league.
The federal government laid all the necessary foundations for the Cartagena Protocol with the creation of a regulatory body – the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) to control all issues related to biotechnology and ensure the safe use of modern biotechnology in the country. Recall that the NBMA was created in 2015. The agency is burdened with the responsibility to ensure that the activities of modern biotechnology and the use of genetically modified organisms do not adversely affect the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
As the nation gets ready to finally begin commercializing cotton, the agency has begun intensive preparations to rationalize its operations and integrate the national biosafety system into the national system of effective regulation.
Accordingly, the agency, with the support of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, convened a meeting with key biosafety stakeholders in Nigeria, which includes representatives of ministries, departments and agencies of the federal government, such as ministries of environment, trade and investment, agriculture and agriculture. NAQS, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), National Food and Drug Administration and Control Agency (NAFDAC), Tamo Nigeria's Public Service (NCS) and Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to streamline and approve national biosafety regulation. Speaking at the awareness workshop for key policy makers and decision makers to test the national biosafety strategy in Abuja, Director General of the NBMA, Dr. Rufus Ebegba said the agency believes that integrating biosafety into national systems will further strengthen its regulatory network for a functional, holistic biosafety system in Nigeria, and to strengthen awareness of the country's biosafety systems.
“Therefore, not out of context, this step is the right step in the right direction. In our quest for biosafety, we still signed a Memorandum of Understanding with your institutions, we also defined your legislation / policy as entry points that were analyzed and areas for updating identified during the study of the desktop project, which was product your inputs. “It was from your materials that the actualization strategy was developed,” he said. Ebegba argued that the project study with the participation of the MDA is to find out possible areas of convergence with the possibility of being included in the agenda and at the same time to ensure that the agency’s mandate is delivered to the people of Nigeria. This means that the country has a holistic biosafety system so that products of modern biotechnology are safe for the environment and human health, he noted.
He further said: “We are here to revise the strategy we have developed in order to integrate biosafety into the national system. We are particularly interested in integrating biosafety into the national biodiversity strategy and action plan. This plan, which is under the Ministry of the Environment, is a document that defines the role of each government agency in the field of biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. This is a very strong document that protects our environment, our natural resources are saved so that current and future generations will survive in an atmosphere of common sense, where the issue of climate change will also be considered. ”
MDA unanimously stressed the need for cooperation and partnership between government agencies for a coordinated national system that guarantees good service delivery to citizens, emphasizing their willingness to work with the agency and support its mandate to provide safe applications for biotechnology in Nigeria. Emarks, Director of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Dooshima Kwange, expressed the hope that this strategy will become a reference document that will serve as a guide for all other agencies. “We cannot work in Silos, we need each other to do this work. This is a great step. The ministry hopes that as soon as this document is checked and placed in the public domain, we will all use it, we will not leave it aside and go in different ways, but it will be a document that will serve as a guide for our biosafety activities. and our various mandates, ”she said.
Similarly, Dr. Ezebuiro Christpeace, Technical Advisor to the Acting General Director of NABDA, Dr. Alex Akpa, was optimistic that the strategy would guide future future work, as the agency relies heavily on biotechnology aspects of biotechnology.