AU lauds Nigerian’s biosafety system
The Principal Programme Officer for African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) of African Union Development Agency –New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), Mr. Sam Timpo has described the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), as a leader in biosafety matters in Africa.
Timpo said this at a training on Biosafety Communication organised by the NBMA in collaboration with AUDA–NEPAD for line Ministries, Departments, Agencies and journalists who are stakeholders in the biosafety system.
“NEPAD relies heavily on Nigeria as a backbone to lead biosafety matters and chart the course as seen during the last COP MOP held in Egypt,” he added.
While speaking, the Director General/Chief Executive Officer of NBMA, Dr. Rufus Ebegba spoke on the importance of accurate information sharing, as a key component of ensuring extensive public awareness.
“In Biosafety Communication, the sharing of factual information is crucial and one of the key components of public awareness, which is a vital objective of the NBMA. When you disseminate accurate information, it gives the listener the power to make an informed choice.
“Biosafety communication is a crucial part of the agency’s activities, hence the need for stakeholders to understand the issues and how to communicate them properly to the public, to avoid misinformation.”
Ebegba added that it is the responsibility of the NBMA to guarantee safety in the use, handling and transfer of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), noting that the agency will continually do this, as well as carry out public awareness to ensure that Nigerians have a safe choice on the consumption of GMOs.
NBMA’s Director of Environmental Biosafety and General Release, Ms. Chinyere Nzeduru, who led a session discussing how modern biotechnology is regulated globally and in Nigeria, said different government agencies, which the NBMA collaborates with to achieve her mandate of safety of GMOs include-National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Nigeria Agricultural Seed Council (NASC).
She said GM foods are highly regulated, adding that in Nigeria the same global practice applies, as the agency ensures that proper risk assessment is carried out before products are approved in the country.
The training, held between June 11 to 14, 2019, covered areas such as modern biotechnology regulation, food safety concerns in biotechnology, environmental safety considerations, communication of GM food safety issues and the management of biotechnology.