27 March 2013

Nigeria: Senator Bukola Saraki Urges President Jonathan to Sign Agricultural Biotechnology Bill Into Law

Abuja — The Senator representing Kwara Central in the Upper Chamber, Senator (Dr.) Bukola Saraki, has joined other concerned Nigerians and scientists world over, urging President Goodluck Jonathan, as a matter of urgency, to give his assent to Agricultural Biotechnology Bill earlier passed by the two chambers of National Assembly.

The Senator in view of his background as a member of Senate Committee on Agriculture coupled with his vast experience in the Agric sector as a former Governor of Kwara State, made the call to this effect that, as part of President Jonathan's transformation agenda, it is imperative to sign the bill into Law as it will compliment the Federal Government efforts towards ensuring Food security and food sufficiency, thereby Nigeria should not be left behind.

As a matter of fact, the benefits of signing the bill into Law by Mr. President are numerous. These include, regulating the safe application of biotechnology in Nigeria, to harness benefits in fields of Agriculture, medical, environment sustainability and industrial growth. Further to this, the Law will promote technological and material transfer for research collaboration and commercialization in biotechnology.

It would be recalled that the passage of Agricultural Biotechnology (Biosafety bill) by the National Assembly was predicated on the emergence of biotechnology as a powerful tool that has contributed to increased agricultural productivity in many countries. Since 1996, biotechnology-deriven crops have been commercially planted and their adoption has increased steadily; over 8.5 million farmers in 21 countries now plant them.

Considering the imperativeness of promoting the development and deployment of appropriate technology to ensure food security, consequently, biosafety law has been advised to be in place. That is, safety first. Excellence in biotechnology is a natural corollary of biosafety, especially in agriculture.

Senator Saraki who is also the Chairman of Senate Committee on Environment & Ecology noted that, majority of African countries have developed their biosafety while all over the world, scientists who recognize the benefits of this technology have been in the forefront of the call for safety and regulation of activities in the field of biotechnology. Therefore, the need for Mr. President to assent to the bill in the interest of our Nation and the attendant economic and employments opportunities that comes with it.

Senator Saraki believes that if this feat is achieved, Nigeria as a Nation would be sufficient in food production and thereby, save the cost of annual food importation and diversify same into a value chain mechanism.

Bamikole Omishore, Special Assistant on Media and Advocacy

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