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Crop Biotech Update

NBMA Validates National Biosafety Guidelines on Gene Editing in Nigeria

December 16, 2020

The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) of Nigeria has formally validated its National Biosafety Guidelines on Gene Editing and has presented them to the public.

NBMA Director General Dr Rufus Ebegba, while speaking during the validation exercise in Abuja on December 9, 2020, said that the Agency has been evolving and the Federal government is poised to drive the economy and the livelihood of the people. He noted that Nigeria has keyed in science and technology as major drivers of the economy, hence the need for the NBMA to ensure that gene editing and its products are safe and do not have an adverse impact on human health and the environment.

"We seriously believe that gene editing needs adequate regulation so that products developed will not be harmful to the environment, human health, plants, and animals. It is on that note that the need for the amendment of the NBMA Act 2015 to include emerging aspects of modern biotechnology in the area of synthetic biology, gene drive, gene editing, and biosecurity was made in 2019," said Dr. Ebegba. "The Federal Government is very proactive on the issue of modern technology. That is why the Federal Government through the NBMA decided to develop guidelines on gene editing," he added

The Director General said the NBMA, working with other sister agencies, has over the months worked on the development of these guidelines and they have gone through various internal and external reviews and processes.

"We have subjected these guidelines to national and international reviews and even scientists from research institutes reviewed them in a bid to make sure we come up with a robust document that will ensure proper regulation of gene editing and its products for food and feed processes, confinement, contained use, and commercial release," he explained.

Modupe Adeyemo, Program Officer for the Africa Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), shared that with the biosafety legal framework in place, the focus now is to put in place additional regulatory tools to ensure informed, effective, and efficient processes. She added that AUDA-NEPAD remains committed to forging strategic partnerships that will have a transformative impact on the continent. She exuded confidence that the validation of the gene editing guidelines will contribute to a sustainable and functional biosafety regulatory system in Nigeria.

For more information, contact Dr. Rufus Ebegba at rebegba@hotmail.com.

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