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POLICY & REGULATION: National Biotechnology Development Agency of Nigeria makes case for passage of Biosafety Bill





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TITLE:   AGENCY MAKES CASE FOR PASSAGE OF BIOSAFETY BILL

SOURCE:  Next, Nigeria

AUTHOR:  Ngozi Sams

URL:     http://234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/Home/5677333-146/agency_makes_case_for_passage_of.csp

DATE:    14.02.2011

SUMMARY: "Despite the signing and ratification of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, Nigeria cannot participate in the global biotech industry due to the absence of a biosafety law. Bamidele Solomon, director general of National Biotechnology Development Agency [...] disclosed that another workshop is being organised towards the end of the month, as part of the overall sensitisation programme, to demonstrate to the lawmakers the imperatives of biosafety law and modern biotechnology as an alternative tool for national development."

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AGENCY MAKES CASE FOR PASSAGE OF BIOSAFETY BILL

Despite the signing and ratification of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, Nigeria cannot participate in the global biotech industry due to the absence of a biosafety law.

Bamidele Solomon, director general of National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), who brought this anomaly to the fore, solicited the cooperation of Nigerians to ensure that a biosafety law is enacted.

Addressing the media at the weekend in his office, he recalled that ?a draft biosafety Bill which was presented to the House of Representatives as a privately sponsored bill in 2009, after having waited so long for it to be submitted as an executive bill, was passed on 20th July, 2010, and just transmitted to the Senate where it hopefully will undergo concurrence and accelerated passage.?

He prayed that the legislators at the upper Chamber would accord the bill all the attention it deserves and get it passed quickly for the assent of the president before the expiration of the life of the present administration.

According to him, ?the giant strides already recorded in the research institutes in the country in the area of crop improvement like the BT cowpea and Biocassava Plus with all the promises of remedying the prevalent micronutrient malnutrition in the country will never make it to commercialisation without a biosafety regulation and would only end up on the shelves.?

Mr. Solomon warned that failure to have the bill passed now would mean starting the whole process of legislation all over again, while the biotech foreign investors and other interested parties wait to know the direction of government regulation and requirement for product approval. This, he said, may further erode their confidence in the system.

On the steps being taken to facilitate speedy passage of the biosafety bill in the Senate, the director general said the senators, as statesmen, would be expected to do what is best for the citizenry.

He, however, disclosed that another workshop is being organised towards the end of the month, as part of the overall sensitisation programme, to demonstrate to the lawmakers the imperatives of biosafety law and modern biotechnology as an alternative tool for national development.