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Genome Editing: Nigerian biosafety agency train staff on regulation 

By Edwin Nwanojuo
The National Biosafety Management in conjunction with the Program for Biosafety Systems (PBS) has commenced a series of trainings to properly equip Biosafety Regulators on how best to regulate the emerging technology – genome editing.
Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the NBMA, Dr Rufus Ebegba, while speaking at the opening of the workshop emphasized that the training workshop was aimed at ensuring capacity strengthening of staff of the Agency while embracing the new responsibility.
Recall that the federal government recently expanded the mandate of the NBMA to include new and emerging technologies of which genome editing is one.
Dr Ebegba said that developments in science and technology are happening at a rapid rate hence the need for staff of the agency to be proactive and be on top of their operations. “As the biosafety regulators of Nigeria, NBMA owes the country proper regulation of these technologies.”
“NBMA will regulate genome editing, as such, the workshop will help guide the Agency on areas to regulate” He further urged participants to utilize the opportunity to acquire the needed knowledge that will aid the Agency in proper regulation of the technology”.
In a remark, John Komen, Africa Coordinator, PBS, commended the NBMA on the strides it has made in the last five years especially in the expansion of the NBMA Act to include the regulation of emerging biotechnologies.
Komen expressed happiness at the successful commercialization of the first engineered food crop (PBR-Cowpea) in the Sub-Saharan Africa by Nigeria, which is an indication of a strong biosafety system in Nigeria.
President of the Nigeria Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium (NBBC), Prof. Celestine Aguoru, praised the NBMA for the giant strides it had achieved within the few years of its existence, which has made it a household name in Nigeria towards ensuring safe deployment of products of modern biotechnology.
He encouraged NBMA not to be deterred by the different challenges it faces, as resistance is always faced at introduction of a new technology. He assured participants that as the president of the NBBC, he will ensure that all stakeholders are brought together to ensure that the biosafety system maintains steady growth.
The 2-day workshop was aimed at providing a platform for experts in the biosafety sector from across the globe, to educate officers of the NBMA and other key stakeholders on issues and aspects of Gene Editing, specifically – to enlighten the participants on the science of genome editing, to identify the possible risks, if any, that may be associated with genome editing, to discuss the possible regulatory guidance for genome editing in Nigeria, to review the use of genome editing in other countries and the adopted regulatory processes; and to identify communication needs and issues in connection with regulatory guidance and decision making about genome editing techniques.

About Edwin

Edwin is an agriculture enthusiast who believes in the potency of agriculture in driving economic growth in developing countries. He also believes in the use of biotechnology to advance agriculture in order to fight hunger and poverty. Edwin believes in the power of the media to bridge the gap between policy makers, sector actors and the farmers, especially those in the rural areas.

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