Minister seeks more research, transparency on biotechnology
The Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed, has called for more research, transparency and openness, as Nigeria ventures into commercial biotechnology.
Amina, who answered journalists’ questions on concerns raised by anti-GMOs on Nigeria’s venture into biotechnology, yesterday noted that the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) had government backing to police the technology in Nigeria.
At a meeting with officials of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) and the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) in Abuja, Amina called for greater public engagement on the technology.
“We need more research and we need to listen to people where they have concerns. We have to answer those frequently asked questions because without responding to people’s concerns, we are leaving perception of not caring or not doing our homework. We have to be more open to people and transparent to everyone, also hear every one’s concern and address them. With the Biosafety Agency now in place, we can begin to do that a lot more.”
She assured that biotechnology has a big role to play in the ‘Great Green Wall’, which has started and has an agency that is at the forefront to ensure that it is line with AU initiative.
“NABDA can come in the area of economic trees. The gestation period for trees used to last for three, four years but today we are looking at 18 months or less. That is biotechnology; this is where we need collaboration to ensure that we are able to do things quicker than usual. But we have to ensure safety and transparency in what we do. There is always good and bad sides, and we must take care of the bad side.”
She called on NBMA to ensure greater education and information.
According to her, “Education is key. Ignorance brings fear, opposition and pushes back things that are good for us but with education, it is taken off. Those involved in carrying people forward in the world of science forget and leave many behind which becomes a challenge.”
She stressed government’s clear focus on economic diversification.