NBMA Unveils Guidelines On GM Plants, Fish With Stacked Genes

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The director-general, National Biosafety Management Agency, Dr. Rufus Ebegba (fifth from right) flanked by other stakeholders during the workshop in Abuja.

The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has unveiled the National Biosafety Guidelines for the regulation of genetically modified plants and fish with stacked genes in Nigeria.

Speaking at the presentation of National Biosafety Guidelines today (August 15, 2022) in Abuja, the NBMA director-general, Dr. Rufus Ebegba said the products have no negative impact on the production of GMOs in the country.

“The guidelines is to guide the process, guide various research institutes, individuals and technology developers to ensure that modern biotechnology application in the infusion of more than one gene in the development of any genetically modified organism is safe.

“The guidelines, which have undergone various review processes, have been validated by stakeholders who confirmed them to be adequate as national guidelines on stacked genes. Biosafety is key to our national security and we must ensure the products are safe.”

According to him, “The guidelines will help us to be more effective in our regulation of GMOs. The development of GMOs is not necessarily with one gene. There can be more than one gene to perform more than one function. We have encountered GMOs with gene of insert for drought resistance and tolerance to pests.

“Nigeria’s activities locally and internationally have exposed us to new skills, knowledge and also increased our proficiency. Over the years we have tried as much as possible to make stacked genes challenge-free. 

“Today marks another beginning of our evolution as a national biosafety regulatory agency in Nigeria. The NBMA has developed these guidelines to facilitate our implementation of the NBMA Act 2015 as amended, as part of ensuring that modern biosafety products do not have negative impacts on the production of GMOs in our country’s development.”

In his remarks, the country coordinator, Programme for Biosafety Systems (PBS), Nigeria, Dr. Matthew Dore said “NBMA has done the wise thing by being proactive, working out procedures for ensuring safety in the application of modern milestones.

“NBMA has thrived, despite all the distractions, for yet another biotechnology field, its applications and the challenges, in response to the impending ‘stack boom’ in modern biotechnology.

“NBMA is forward-looking and, through the public presentation of National Biosafety Guidelines, has ensured diligent compilation of guidelines and regulations by working with stakeholders in the field, to ensure that Nigeria is ahead of the curve. Farmers can also expect an increase in productivity on GM plants with stacked genes to counter challenges such as environmental stress, insect pests and diseases.”

Similarly, the country coordinator, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB), Dr. Rose Gidado, hailed the NBMA as the “first in Africa” to come up with these guidelines.

“The agency is a role model to other African countries having the biosafety act in their various countries. Other parts of the world are surprised to see how Nigeria is coming up in this area. They have always asked us about the strength that we have, the secret which others do not have. The guidelines make it easy for our scientists to carry out their work,” she added.

Oluchi Okorafor
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