This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Ministers, Experts Hail Jonathan On Biosafety Bill

Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Ita Bassey Ewa; her Environment counterpart, Mrs. Hadiza Mailafia, and stakeholders in the agricultural biotechnology applications have commended President Goodluck Jonathan for his effort in fast-tracking the progress made in the expeditious passage of the Biosafety Act, which is presently in the Justice Ministry. The passage, they averred, would solve the problem of food insufficiency in the country.

The commendations during the formal launch of the 2012 International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Application (ISAAA) programme in Abuja.

Ewa, who was represented by the Director General National Agricultural Biotechnology Development Agency, Prof. Bamidele Solomon, said: I'm quite excited about the update that we are getting on Agricultural biotechnology, as it is coinciding with the great effort that this country is moving forward I think it is the right step to really adopt modern biotechnology as it were and this connotes moving forward the biosafety bill, which will allow the practice of this technology in such that there will no detrimental effect to the environment human and animal life."

According to him, the progress which has been made in this regard is highly notable and is appropriate with the launch of ISAAA programme. He said the launch marks a very special period in the ministry's effort towards ensuring food security as it coincides with the time when the presidency had sent forward a letter to the Ministry of Justice to proceed on actualising the biosafety bill.

The Minister was optimistic that within few months President Jonathan will assent to the adjustments as required by the executive. "I know there are many stakeholders who had gone through this process with us. The National Productivity Centre (NPC), has been in the forefront of showing the relevance.

"The Minister is highly elated that Science and Technology will now come to play a major role particularly in advancing the technology that has to be deployed in the agriculture sector of the country and thereby addressing issues of food security and of course the various factors on drought and the effect of climate change that is imminent and we are already seen the obvious around us."

In her remark, the Minister of Environment, represented by Assistant Director for Planning and Research in the Ministry, Mr. Gbolagade Oyesanmi, added: "I'm happy to be here today to witness this much and in particular I want to say that this launch marks a significant time in the revolution of the agricultural sector of Nigeria thereby increasing food production, reducing manual labour, through efficiency creating job opportunities and more importantly promoting environmental sustainability. Let me say that the ministry is duly interested in the environmental impact assessment of this technology especially in the area of biosafety."

In his contribution, Executive Secretary Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), who was also represented by Mr. Abubakar Mustapha, explained that with the constitution of the National Biosafety Policy Implementation Committee in place, Nigeria is now better place to drive the transformation agenda through the instrumentality of Science and Technology using biotechnology, adding that the country is now better placed to join other league of nations in the pursuit of socioeconomic development through the various opportunities provided by science and technology.

Also, the Chairman, Cotton Association of Nigeria (CAN) Alhaji Hamman Kwajafa, said the progress made by NABDA is worthy of commendation. "From the sector where I come from particularly the cotton, it is a scientific problem. Already, Nigeria has a low yield below 700,000 kg besides other countries that are using biotechnology are making up to 2 tonnes about 2000 kilogrammes per hectare and as you can see we are really backward. And we believe that if this biotechnology law is passed, Nigeria will progress through cotton production." he said.

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