The Director General National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Prof. Bamidele Solomon, has harped on the essence of the bio-safety bill to the management of biotechnology in Nigeria.
This, he said, as biotechnology has been identified as a crucial tool that can help Nigeria achieve its bid for food sufficiency/food security, industrial growth, health improvement and environmental sustainability.
Solomon made the comments at an open forum on Agricultural Biotechnology Net-mapping in Minna recently, where he added that the passage of the bill would provide a legal framework to check activities of modern biotechnology on both locally and imported genetically modified crops into the country.
According to a statement made available to THISDAY by the agency, the DG added that the bill would provide a platform for engagement among Nigerian scientific experts from different fields to identify and pursue solutions to the nation's challenges.
"Failure in practicing this technology will continue to widen the gap between farmers from the rich developed countries who have adopted it and those of us from the developing world who are having lame excuses to avoid its adoption", he said.
The Bio-safety bill has been passed by the National Assembly and is currently awaiting Presidential assent.
The bill defines mode of practice of modern biotechnology, the handling, transfer and use of GMOs and products to ensure safety to the environment and to human health. It is also intended to guide different segments of society in contributing to the safe application of Modern Biotechnology.
Providing further clarification on the bill, Solomon added that it defines offences and penalties for violation of the act, it contains powers to authorise release of GMOs and practice of modern biotechnology activities, and it confers the power to carry out risk assessment/management before the release, handling and use of GMOs.
It also covers all genetically modified organisms/Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) and products including food/feed and processing and covers socio-economic consideration in risk assessment.