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Jonathan signs biosafety bill into law




PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has signed the National Biosafety Agency Bill, a development described by promoters as a milestone in the domestication of modern biotechnology in Nigeria.

The signing of the bill into law is expected to place Nigeria in the league of countries advanced in the use of this cutting edge technology as another window to boost economic development of Nigeria. Officials say it would create more employment, boost food production that will put a smile on the faces of farmers and elevate hunger if given good attention by government.

The Director-General of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Lucy , who announced the development in Abuja yesterday, stressed that Nigeria could, without delay, begin to commercialize Bt-cotton, Bt-maize and Herbicide Tolerant (HT)-soya beans, which are already in South Africa, Burkina Faso and Egypt.

“This can lead to increased yield productivity to ensure food security and industrial growth, especially in the ailing textile industries. It will also promote the quantity and quality of cotton that the Nigeria can export to other countries,” she stressed.

She noted that the passage of the law would also ensure the much desired in-flux of foreign direct investment from notable world leading companies in Biotechnology, thereby improving gross domestic product growth rate and increasing job creation.

Her words: “The Law will promote national security through the application of DNA finger printing for crime detection, paternity testing and identification, among others.

“It will also promote active commercialization of the research and development projects in our various universities and research institutes, hence improves our economy as well as support the country to become one of the leaders in biotechnology, particularly in Africa.”

According to Ogbadu, “The National Biosafety Act is crucial in the management of modern biotechnology in the country. Modern biotechnology has been identified as an important tool that can help countries to achieve food sufficiency/food security, industrial growth, health improvement and environmental sustainability.

The Biosafety Act will give the legal framework to check the activities of modern biotechnology locally as well as GM crops imported into the country. It will provide avenue to engage Nigerian scientists/experts from different fields to identify and pursue solutions to our local challenges”.

The Chapter Coordinator of the Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Mrs. Rose M. Gidado, noted that the issue of biosafety regulation in Africa is rapidly gaining momentum as more African countries embrace GMOs.

“Republic of South Africa, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Egypt already have biosafety laws and are currently growing and consuming GM crops. Kenya, Togo, Tanzania and Mali also have biosafety laws.

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