Nigeria’s Economic Diversification Must Be Technology Driven
The Director General/CEO, National Biosafety Management Agency, Dr Rufus Ebegba has said that Nigeria’s quest for economic diversification must be hinged on safe technologies.
Ebegba said at the opening of the 4th National Biosafety Conference, hosted by Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria, that the nation needs a combination of tools, processes and safe technologies in a complementary way, to provide a form of economic diversification, which would bring with it a new set of skills thereby expanding job opportunities.
He said that the opportunities in the adoption of safe technologies are endless and their borders seamless. This, he noted, is however determined by the strength of its regulation which in turn determines its safety.
“The presence of National Biosafety Management Act 2015 and the National Biosafety Management Agency are assuring enough. This is therefore not the time to get bogged down with fears, inconsistencies or lethargy. Nigeria cannot afford to stand aloof or left behind in this fast-growing world.
“This is where modern biotechnology comes in and hence Biosafety. This conference is expected to enable scientists, line-government institutions, NGOs and other stakeholders, within and outside the country, to cross- fertilize ideas which foster holistic biosafety management in Nigeria. The outcome would assist in the strengthening of our national biosafety system in its contribution to the diversification of the Nigerian economy.
The Director General, said that this year’s conference is designed with sub-themes carved out to discuss specific areas of Biosafety Management in a diversifying economy and how they relate to pertinent socio-economic issues and economic sustainability.
He said that the NBMA Act 2015 remained the only safety valve for the adoption of modern biotechnology and the deployment and use of GMOs for socio-economic development in Nigeria.
According to him, the Act seeks, among other aims to provide derived benefits from safe modern biotechnology under a legal framework for economic growth, improved agriculture, job and wealth creation, industrial growth and a sustainable environment.
Other aims include to minimise risks to human health, harness the potentials of modern biotechnology, guard against any socio-economic consequences, give confidence in the practice of modern biotechnology, use and handling of GMOs and GM products and reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to the principles of International Agreements and Treaties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB).
Dr Ebegba noted that the Act would not only allow proper regulation for imported GM products, but ensure that Nigeria will not be a dumping ground for GMOs and products.
Dr Mathew Dore, Country Coordinator, Program for Biosafety Systems, during his opening remarks said that issues of Biosafety were gaining prime attention in the country following the victory of NBMA over anti-GMOs crusaders.
He charged scientists and stakeholders attending the conference to articulate their voices in strong support of the technology as its potentials to provide solution to the food crisis and challenges faced by farmers is no longer in doubt.
In a keynote address, the Vice-Chancellor, Ambrose Ali University, Prof Ignatius A. Onimawo said that as the nation continues to search for solutions to hunger, the ability of genetically modified crops to produce more than their conventional counterparts is not in doubt.
He said that the nation must rely on science for evidence despite of the controversies surroundings the adoption of GMOs in the agricultural sector. “The technology has been tested over the years and we are yet to find verifiable fact or evidence of its harm to environment or human health.
The 2-day conference attracted over 300 participants from universities, research institutions, government agencies, private sector operators and civil society groups.
A Cross-Section of Conference Participants
The Management of the National Biosafety Management Agency on a courtesy visit to the Vice Chancellor, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma – Prof. I. A. Onimawo