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Passage of Biotech Law will boost scientific inventions in Nigeria, say Ogbadu, Ekong




Director General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Lucy Jumeyi Ogbadu, has said that with the passage into law of the National Biotechnology bill in April by the Senate and House of Representatives, Nigeria is set to become a leading light in scientific and technological inventions in the Africa sub-region and beyond.

Senators Emmanuel Bwacha and Robert Borriface had on February 27, 2015 presented the bill before the red chamber seeking its passage into law and the adoption of a report by joint committee on Agriculture and Rural Development as well as Science and Technology on the need for immediate establishment of a National Biosafety Management Agency under the bill. The senate and House of Reps unanimously adopted the bill and passed same into law.

Speaking in Abuja at an experts roundtable meeting on advancing Genomics research and Innovation in Nigeria, Ogbadu said passage of the Biotech bill into law, now offers Nigeria scientists a free hand to carry out advanced research on Genomics, which she added is all about understanding the genetic make up of living organisms like plants and animals.

The law, she noted would also encourage scientists to deepen studies into areas such as human variant projects like developing compound vaccines that would be able to provide multiple inoculations in a single dose against several rounds of vaccinations administered on children. She stressed that diseases such as polio, diphtheria, yellow fever, malaria among others can now be curtailed through a single dose vaccination, if fully researched.

The NABDA boss who stressed the need for increased budgetary allocation to science and technology, in particular research into Genomics, stressed that rapid development of the nation’s economy depends on the development of agricultural sector, which she said requires proper research to thrive. She added that the Biotechnology under due regulation, can now be deployed to improve food value, nutrients and pharmaceutical inventions.

Associate Professor of Bioinformatics and Genomics at the University of Arizona, United States, Prof. Fiona McCarthy, who together with Dr. Rosemary Ekong of the Human Molecular Genomics Department at the University College London, United Kingdom said by embracing genomics research, Nigeria has launched into the path of rapid development in the Africa region and beyond.

McCarthy who however described the Genomics as a very capital-intensive study urged the Nigerian government to constantly liaise with countries with profound results in Genomics and associated scientific breakthroughs to better the lives of her citizens. She added that research into Genomics itself merely gives scientific data, which require further studies to interpret before they are translated to useful values in production of goods and services. The US based professor urged Nigeria to strive to advance her potentials using values of science and technology such as genomics to increase food sufficiency, better shelter, among other benefits.

Ekong, who pledged regularly collaboration with her fatherland even while in the Diaspora noted that, with the embrace of Biotechnology science, Nigeria stands a chance of becoming a leading light in Biotechnology and Genomics to other countries in the region, even as she called for cooperation among all stakeholders in the sector.

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