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REPS SET TO ESTABLISH BIOSAFETY COMMISSION

By NBF News
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Following the submission of the reports on a bill to establish Nigeria Biosafety Commission by the joint Committees on Science and Technology and Agriculture, the House of Representatives is set to pass the bill for the management of biosafety in the country.

According to the report, the commission would ensure improved earnings from agro-allied services, food security and environmental sustainability in the country. Chairman of Science and Technology committee, Hon Abiodun Akinlade said that reports on the public hearing conducted with the Committee on Agriculture would provide a regulatory framework for activities in the nation's biotechnology sector, which he noted was long overdue.

The report, now awaiting consideration in the House is to ensure that the practice of biotechnology is undertaken within the scope of regulatory system, which would guarantee its safe application in the country and protect the nation's biodiversity, minimize risks to human health and protect environment.

'With the anticipated consideration and passage of the reports, Nigeria would have joined the league of nations that are interested in tapping into modern biotechnology and genetically modified organisms and their products; we would have joined other African nations including Mali, South Africa and Kenya in putting in place a regulatory mechanism in the biotechnology sector for human development,' he stated after the report was submitted.

According to him, the need for a biotechnology law to ensure food security and sustainability began in the 90s and was capped with the government signing Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) in the year 2000.

The protocol he explained was designed to ensure adequate protection in the transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms in case of adverse effects taking into consideration risks to human health on trans-border movement.

'Although government adopted biotechnology policy as an alternative tool for sustainable and improved food production by establishing National Biotechnology Development Agency, there have been deficiencies in relation to the safety of the practice,' he observed.

But when the law is passed, Akinlade noted that it would ensure the establishment of a biosafety agency that would ensure regulation in the practice, adding that the common-place researches into biotechnology, have made the passage of the law inevitable.

While highlighting the need to employ the practice with a view to harness the benefits of modern biotechnology offers in the areas of improved agriculture, food production, medicine, environmental protection and industrial growth, the benefits of the bill when passed into law would encourage the regulation of the system.