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Crop Biotech Update

Nigeria Passes Biosafety Bill

June 3, 2011

The Nigerian senate enacted the Biosafety Bill into law on June 1, 2011, after several years of stakeholders' discussion and debate. The Bill went through the Senate procedure by Resolution and Concurrence after going through three readings. It was concurred without amendments to the draft Bill passed by the House of Representatives on July 20,  2010. The law now awaits Presidential assent upon which implementing regulations will be developed to pave way for its operationalization.

The passing of the bill was welcomed by stakeholders, who had expressed concerns earlier on the possible delay in passing the Bill, due to possible changes in the government after the May 2011 elections. The bill was among those highlighted by the Nigerian Bar Association last December as needing passage before 29 May 2011. The passing of the bill is a major step towards the safe and responsible use of biotech crops in the country. Currently, Nigerian scientists and partners are conducting field trials on genetically modified cowpea and cassava, both important major staple food crops in Nigeria and the sub-Saharan Africa at large.

For more information on the Biosafety Bill and biotechnology developments in Nigeria contact the Nigeria Biosafety focal point, Mr. Rufus Ebegba at rebegba@hotmail.com or Mrs. Rose S.M. Gidado, Principal Scientific Officer, Collaborations & Linkages Unit, National Biotechnology Development Agency at roxydado@yahoo.com.