Active Biosafety Law Crucial For Ensuring Food Security – Asagbra

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The director-general, National Biosafety Management Agency, Dr. Agnes Asagbra.
The director-general, National Biosafety Management Agency, Dr. Agnes Asagbra.

The director-general of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Agnes Asagbra has emphasised the crucial role of biosafety law in securing the nation’s sustainable future, ensuring food security, environmental protection and economic growth that benefit human health.

During a press briefing at the agency headquarters in Abuja, Asagbra stated that biosafety law goes beyond mere legislation; it represents a commitment to Nigeria’s sustainable future. She highlighted that the law ensures responsible harnessing of the benefits of modern biotechnology, with utmost consideration for people’s health and environmental well-being.

Encouraging Nigerians to embrace advancements in safe modern biotechnology with informed perspectives, Asagbra emphasised the importance of the NBMA 2015 Act. This act provides a regulatory framework for the safe application of biotechnology and manages potential adverse effects of GMOs on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.

The establishment of NBMA has led to the development of biosafety frameworks meeting international standards, including a GMO detection and analysis laboratory, national biosafety policies, and regulatory instruments. Nigeria’s biosafety regulation has positioned the country as a leader in Africa, influencing other nations’ biosafety practices.

Asagbra stressed that biosafety law is more than a policy; it is a commitment to safeguarding the nation’s health, biodiversity and environment. By regulating modern biotechnology, biosafety ensures that technological advancements, especially in agriculture, are beneficial and pose no harm.

She outlined the crucial aspects of biosafety law as environmental protection, to ensure GMOs do not harm Nigeria’s rich biodiversity; Public health, to safeguards human health from potential risks associated with GMOs, Economic development, to support agricultural modernisation and industrialisation, contributing to economic growth; Scientific advancement, to provides a framework for ethical scientific research and innovation in biotechnology.

Regarding Tela maize, Asagbra clarified that while it has been commercialised, it has not yet been launched for farmers to grow or made available in the market.

Speaking on the role of Nigerian scientists, she highlighted that approved technologies undergo critical evaluation by professionals with vast experience and expertise in their fields. Nigerian scientists are actively engaged in developing genetically modified products like cassava and sweet potatoes, ensuring these innovations benefit citizens.

Asagbra emphasised that Nigeria’s biosafety processes are on par with, if not ahead of, those in other African countries, thanks to the application of top-notch international standards.

Oluchi Okorafor
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