The Principal Programme Officer for African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) of African Union Development Agency – New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), Mr. Sam Timpo has said that the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), which is the national competent authority on biosafety in Nigeria, is always counted on as a leader in biosafety matters in Africa.
Mr. Timpo said this at the Training on Biosafety Communication organised by the NBMA in collaboration with AUDA – NEPAD for line Ministries, Departments, Agencies and journalists who are stakeholders in the biosafety system.
“NEPAD relies heavily on Nigeria as a backbone to lead biosafety matters and chart the course as seen during the last COP MOP which held in Egypt” he added.
Speaking during the training, the Director General/Chief Executive Officer of NBMA, Dr. Rufus Ebegba stressed the importance of accurate information sharing as it is a key component of ensuring extensive public awareness.
“In Biosafety Communication, the sharing of factual information is crucial and one of the key components of public awareness which is a vital objective of the NBMA. When you disseminate accurate information, it gives the listener the power to make an informed choice.”
He said “Biosafety communication is a crucial part of the Agency’s activities hence the need for stakeholders to understand the issues and how to communicate them properly to the public in other to avoid misinformation”.
Dr. Ebegba also added that it is the responsibility of the NBMA to guarantee safety in the use, handling and transfer of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the Agency will continually do this as well as carry out public awareness to ensure that Nigerians have a safe choice on the consumption of GMOs.
NBMA’s Director of Environmental Biosafety and General Release, Ms. Chinyere Nzeduru, who led a session discussing how modern biotechnology is regulated globally and in Nigeria, reiterated the different government agencies which the NBMA collaborates with to achieve her mandate of safety of GMOs to include National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Nigeria Agricultural Seed Council (NASC).
She said GM foods are highly regulated and in Nigeria the same global practice applies as the Agency ensures that proper risk assessment is carried before any product is approved in the country.
The training which began today (11th June) will last 3 days and cover areas such modern biotechnology regulation in Nigeria, food safety concerns in biotechnology, environmental safety considerations, communication of GM food safety issues and the management of biotechnology.
The training to aims to explore and understand the issues surrounding modern biotechnology, build the capacity of participants to properly communicate biosafety regulations and to strengthen collaboration between stakeholders.