NBMA engages experts for input in gene editing guidelines, biosecurity policy
The Director General of the National Biosafety Management Agency, NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba has emphasised the importance of experts input in the guidelines being developed by the agency for the regulation of gene editing and the National Policy on Biosecurity.
Speaking during a two-day meeting to review the guidelines on Gene editing and National Biosecurity policy in Abuja, which held between 28 and 29 October 2020, Ebegba said that the two documents had undergone rigorous internal review by the Agency, and was now brought for input by external experts.
According to him, the NBMA is concerned about the human health and the safety of gene edited products and how viable it could be to the economy of the country.
“The reason for the development of the guideline on gene editing is to enhance the regulation of gene editing, to ensure that it is in conformity with international standards and serves as a model for other countries, to make the guidelines and their accompanying preliminary consultative form more practicable and easier for biosafety applicants to understand,” Ebegba said.
The DG said the meeting was also to ensure that other necessary administrative and scientific information from the stakeholders and research community that ought to be in the guidelines, were well captured and to have a preliminary draft of the National Biosecurity Policy in place for further review.
“This review meeting is to enable stakeholders to subject the guidelines and Biosecurity policy to a rigorous process so that the NBMA can come up with holistic guidelines and Biosecurity policy, for the benefit of Nigerians.
“The COVID19 pandemic is a Biosecurity issue and this National Policy will help the federal government have a proper Biosecurity Framework to enable the country tackle harmful Biological Agents that can cause harm to human health and the environment.
“This policy is expected to serve as a blue print in dealing with issues of Biosecurity and will be subjected to a larger stakeholders’ review after which it will be sent to the Federal Executive Council through the Federal Ministry of Environment for adoption,” he said.
The board chairman of the agency, Ibrahim Nakande called for concerted efforts in creating awareness so that Nigerians can understand the regulatory role of the agency.
He noted that Nigerians should trust the agency as what it has approved to be safe should be considered safe.
“The Federal Government has put in place measures to ensure that products of modern Biotechnology are regulated so that any potential harm these products can cause to Nigerians and the environment will be checked,” Nakande said.
This is the first external review of both documents and these documents are expected to be subjected to a larger stakeholder review before it is sent for adoption.