Agency provides guidelines for GMOs’ biosafety system, says Ebegba


The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), says it was providing efficient guidelines, to improve Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) for a strong biosafety system in the country.

This was in addition to programmes policies and processes, according to Dr Rufus Ebegba, Director-General of the agency.

He was speaking at a Review meeting of the Draft National Guidelines on genetically modified plants with stacked gene, organised by the NBMA, in Abuja.

Ebegba said that the agency was working on how to improve the system, by providing new guidelines and programmes to strongly have a national biosafety system.

According to him, the agency wanted to provide guidelines that would always be a testimony to what we are as a GMO country.

“GMOs are organisms in which genetic material was altered by genetic engineering technology.

“We are looking at this from the fact that genes have various interactions; when two genes are put into one organism they interact within themselves and also within the organism.

“We want to properly know that, so that we could establish whether they are the type that are harmful to man and to the environment.

“We will also look at the issues of stacking genes, stacking products that are already genetically modified and also the ones that were not modified.

“So, the guidelines we want to review is going to give us, particularly the developer of GMOs products, a better understanding of what we need to do.

“We need to understand this and then put it down in black and white so that there would be no arguments when we come up with such guidelines.

“We selected the participants based on the perception of their competencies and understanding of the issues.

“We see our biosafety system as a living system that we will keep amending, when there was need for any amendment.

“We meet some challenges from time to time, we have to use our experiences that we have already acquired over the years to address them,’’ he said.

Ebegba advised all the participants to be committed in their delivery of the assignment and ensure that they defended technology, to promote the development of the country.

According to him, our statement portrayed the fact that we are defending GMOs or defending modern bio-technology.

“The Federal Government establishes institutions to promote and develop technology and then come up with better products that would enhance development.

“Also, government established the NBMA to ensure that processes and products were safe. We will always stand by the statements, all the GMOs we have approved so far, we can attest to their safety.

The director-general also encouraged the staff of the agency to be proactive by ensuring that its mandate was achieved.

“Let us put in our best because at the international levels our documents are showcasing what we are as a nation.

“Also, our documents are a model for other countries to domesticate, to work upon and to meet up their own national needs.

“So, I also believe that these guidelines would serve the same.

“The agency was created to enhance environmental sustainability, to serve the good of our people and to encourage scientists to develop better in their fields,’’ he said.

Mr Mathew Dore, Country Coordinator, Programme for Biosafety System, said that the essence of reviewing the guidelines was to share the progress made so far with some of the stakeholders.

Dore said that the guidelines would help to create the legal and administrative framework that would ensure that Nigeria benefited from them.

He said that the programme for a biosafety system was a programme for capacity development for economic growth.

The programme would support technically, by sharing experiences with relevant stakeholders as such would promote the adoption and use of biotechnology, he added.

By Vivian Emoni