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Biotechnology: NBMA, Stakeholders Review Guidelines

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The biotechnology regulatory agency, the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has brought stakeholders in the biotech management sector together to review and validate its guidelines for effective, efficient regulation.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the review and validation meeting in Abuja, the director-general of NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba said the review was necessary to strengthen the enforcement system for proper regulation.

Up for review, according to him, is the NBMA Risk Analysis Framework which details risk assessment- a precondition for the release of any genetically modified organism (GMO).

He said: “The guideline encompasses risk management plans and strategies to be employed if any potential risk arises from the practice of modern biotechnology. The guideline aims to strengthen the enforcement system for proper regulation.

“Other guidelines being reviewed are Administrative Manual, Communication Strategy, National Biosafety Emergency Response, Biosafety Information Manual, Institutional Biosafety Committee Guidelines, Biosafety Laboratory Manual and Inspection Guidelines.”

The NBMA boss added that the Biosafety Laboratory Manual would ensure the accurate analysis of GMOs and the guaranteed safety of personnel working in the laboratory.

He thanked all the stakeholders present especially the media for accurate dissemination of information on issues of biosafety in the country. He said the media should do more in terms of relating issues of biosafety to the general public.

“This review and validation meeting involves stakeholders from different ministries, departments and agencies who are involved in the National Biosafety Framework,” he added.

In her presentation, the agency’s head of media and communications, Mrs Gloria Ogbaki, stressed on the need for proper and effective communication among stakeholders.

“This is, therefore, not the time to get bogged down with fears, inconsistencies and lethargy and Nigeria cannot afford to stand aloof or be left behind in this fast-growing world,” she said.

She contended that biosafety communication strategy would require all stakeholders to effectively pass on their messages as regards the issues of bio-safety foods, backed by credible scientific evidence, adding that the ongoing debates and arguments among the public on GMOs were caused by a lot of misconceptions.

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