By Fortune Eromosele
The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) on Wednesday, formally validated its National Biosafety Guidelines on Gene Editing.
The Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba while speaking during the Validation exercise in Abuja, said the Agency has been evolving and the Federal government is poised to drive the economy and the livelihood of the people, noting that Nigeria has keyed into science and technology as major drivers of the economy globally, hence the need for the NBMA to ensure that these technologies are safe and does not have adverse impact on human health and the Environment.
He said “we seriously believe that gene editing needs adequate regulation so that products that will be developed will not be harmful to the environment, human health, plants and animals and it is on that note that the need for the amendment of the NBMA act 2015 to include emerging aspects of Biotechnologies in the area of synthetic biology, gene drive, gene editing and Biosecurity where made in 2019. The Federal Government is very proactive on the issue of this growing technologies that is why Government through the NBMA decided to develop guidelines on one major aspect which is gene editing”.
Ebegba added that the NBMA, working with other sister Agencies has over the months worked on the development of this guideline and it has gone through various internal and external reviews and processes.
According to him,“We have subjected this guideline to national and international reviews and even scientists from research institutes reviewed it in a bid to make sure we come up with a robust document that will ensure the proper regulation of gene editing and its products for food and feed processes, confinement, contained use and commercial release.”
Speaking also, Programme Officer for the Africa Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) Mrs. Modupe Adeyemo said with the biosafety legal framework of Nigeria already in place, the focus is to put in place additional regulatory tools to ensure informed, effective and efficient processes.
She said currently, there is no approved policy on the regulation of gene edited products even though the scope of the Biosafety law covers it noting that to address this capacity need, the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) developed a policy document (national guidelines for the regulation of gene editing) which has been subject to series of reviews by key stakeholders.
“This validation meeting is important as it offers the opportunity for us to work together towards creating an enabling legal environment for the regulation of gene editing in Nigeria. We need to create platforms for dialogue that will enable us nurture personal and institutional relationships that are required for a functional biosafety system”, she stressed.
Mrs. Adeyemo maintained that AUDA-NEPAD ABNE remains committed to forging strategic partnerships that will have a transformative impact on the continent and expressed hope that this validation meeting will contribute to a sustainable and functional biosafety regulatory system in Nigeria.