The director-general, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Abdullahi Mustapha has asserted that biotechnology can complement chemical sciences in tackling emerging threats to national security.
Speaking during the 7th annual symposium of the American Chemical Society, Nigeria international chemical sciences chapter themed: “Repositioning the Chemical Sciences for tackling Emerging Threats to National Security” in Abuja, he explained that as a multi-dimensional sector, biotechnology can contribute to the enhancement of national security. He explained that national security is intrinsically linked to human security.
Represented by a deputy director in NABDA, Dr. Rose Gidado, Mustapha defined biotechnology as the “use of biological systems or living organisms (plants, animals, microorganisms) or in industrial, agricultural, medical, environmental and other technological applications for economic growth”. It combines biological potentials with chemical and physical possibilities, an encompassing approach with deep roots in life and computer science. “Biotechnology,” he said “is taking mankind beyond ever known depths of understanding the chemical and physical bases of life and matter to the molecular basis of creation”.
Mustapha opined that human security is, indeed, at the epicentre of national security. Human security prioritises the security of the individual over that of the state since there can be no state without its citizens. Thus, human security emphasises the “establishment of food and water security, economic and political security for the general population as critical mechanisms to achieve a more stable level of state security”, the DG added.
The NABDA boss pointed out that the major objective of national security is to achieve complete security for both the state and its citizens by engendering an environment of peace. One of the major pedestals upon which human security stands is the guarantee that everyone will have access to the necessities of life, of which food is an integral component.
He averred that the centrality of food in the framework of development underscores the global quest to ensure its availability. The achievement of food security has, therefore, become the major goal of not just nation-states but the global community. Food security exists when all people, at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
“Human security aims at ensuring the survival, livelihood and dignity of people in response to current and emerging threats, threats that are widespread and cross-cutting. Such threats are not limited to those living in absolute poverty or conflict. Food insecurity, therefore, has other detrimental effects that multiply the threats to the most vulnerable, including health, education, livelihoods and individual productivity, hindrance in economic development and loss of confidence in institutions.
“However, in the efforts of the government to tackle this challenge, NABDA, the African Agricultural Technology 13 Foundation (AATF), the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) and the National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) and the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike, in collaboration with international partners, are already driving Nigeria to food and nutrition security, securing the lives of 200,000,000 Nigerians through the development of improved and high-yielding, insect-resistant, drought-tolerant, herbicide-tolerant, salt-tolerant, virus-resistant and nutritionally enhanced crops, namely Bt cotton, Bt cowpea, NEWEST rice and HT soybeans,” he added.
In his remarks, the chairman, ACS Nigeria international chemical sciences chapter, Prof. Joshua Obaleye appreciated stakeholders and participants as he emphasised the need for growth and advancement in the country through the application of chemical technology
Joshua enthused that investment in science is a key requirement for the development of any country.
Earlier, the LOC chairman, Dr. Nnemeka Ihegwuagu said: “Unlike the theme of the previous years where the symposium addressed other issues related to poverty, the theme for 2022 is suitable because it is coming at a time when humankind faces health, insecurity due to COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity due to climate change with increasing natural disasters, economic and national insecurity due to various terrorist activities etc”. He added that scientific innovation can lead to a sustainable society.