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Stakeholders meet to bring up National Policy on Biosecurity

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The Federal Government has brought stakeholders together to bring up a final policy paper on the nation’s biosecurity.

People were brought from the health, agriculture and environment sectors between Tuesday and Wednesday to brainstorm on how to improve the already drafted National Biosafety Policy developed by the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment.

Addressing the stakeholders, Minister of State for Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor said the gathering underscored the importance of biosecurity to the Nigerian economy, environment and health.

Ikeazor, who was represented by a director in the ministry, Lawrence Adigwe said: “We are today kick-starting a very important action that is expected to galvanize efforts towards safeguarding human health, the environment and our economy.

She said: “Biosafety remains a strategic and integrated approach that encompasses the policy and regulatory frameworks (including instruments and activities) for analyzing and managing relevant biorisks to human, animal and plant health, and associated risks to the environment.”

The Minister said: “I wish to re-emphasize that humans, animals and water bodies which are at the receiving end of the impact of bio-threats are parts of the environment and the negative impact on any of them seriously affects the ecosystem and disrupt the socio-economic activities of the country.

“Therefore, this document before us will drive the institutionalization of a harmonized and workable biosecurity system which will serve as a fundamental approach to minimizing the risks of biological threats to, human, animal and plant health, taking into account the environment and our economy.”

Also speaking, the Director General/CEO, National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr. Rufus Ebegba has said Nigeria is performing well in in the area of biosafety and biosecurity on the continent.

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He said: “Globally, safe science and technology have been known to be drivers of economic change world over, Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind that is why the federal government through NBMA makes sure it approves only safe application of modern biotechnology for the economic development of the country particularly in the Agricultural sector.”

Addressing the media on the state of Biosafety in Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja, Ebegba said: “I want to restate here that the fruits and beans available in the Nigerian market presently are not genetically modified as insinuated rather they are either hybrids or improved.”

He added that the federal government through NBMA is always poised to protect the health of its citizens and the environment by providing case by case analysis of Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and risk assessments.

Ebegba said: “I have said it before and will say it again, the NBMA is very thorough in its dealings and before any approval is granted, the National Biosafety Committee and the National Biosafety Technical Committee meet to analyze, deliberate on the product which most times spans for two days and decisions are taken after careful and thorough analysis of the application.

“The NBMA does not act on its own as these committees comprise of experts drawn from sister Agencies, line ministries, scientists, Non-governmental Organisations, farmers and many other expert stakeholders who after their review make their recommendation to the NBMA for further action.”

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He said: “Globally, safe science and technology have been known to be drivers of economic change world over, Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind that is why the federal government through NBMA makes sure it approves only safe application of modern biotechnology for the economic development of the country particularly in the Agricultural sector.”

He appealed to the shareholders to contribute their best to the deliberations, remembering that they are important in bringing out a biosecurity policy for the nation

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