By Jacob Onjewu Dickson
ABUJA/Nigeria: A cross section of experts who participated in the public hearing organized by the National Assembly Senate Committee on Environment on Wednesday in Abuja, urged the Senate to outrightly reject any attempt to amend the act, saying the move is unprogressive and obstructive to the progress of Nigeria.
Prof. Abdulahil Mustapha, Director General, NABDA in his submission, said the amendment is not necessary as it will limit the practice of science in Nigeria.
“Nigeria has enacted deliberate policies that positioned science and technology as the engine to drive the economic, so turning around to set up unnecessary roadblocks will limit science from taking us to our destination.”
He urged the Senate to jettison the proposed amendment because it anti people and development.
In a submission, Prof. Mohammed Ishiyaku, Executive Directive, IAR said that the NBMA act 2015 remained the best protection for proactive modern biotechnology in Nigeria.
“Amending the bill now will amount to reversing the gains made since the coming of the law in 2015.
“The amendment seeks to tighten the hands of the scientists and make the practice of science impossible in the country. The amendment will not add value to the practice of science in Nigeria” he said.
Also speaking, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, Director General, NBMA said the amendment is planned to kill the desire of our scientists to contribute to the socio-economic development of the country but open the country up for dumping of unauthorized GMOs.
Prof. Celestine Aguoro of the University of Agriculture Makurdi said the amendment is targeted at driving indigenous Nigerian scientists away from the country as it will end up limiting their scope while frustrating their efforts.
Explaining further, Prof Chiedozie Egesi, who represented IITA said that the proposal to amend the Biosafety Bill is retrogressive as it will further reverse the progress made in Biotechnology in Nigeria so far.
Dr Andrew Iloh, the representative of the DG/CEO SHESTCO further reiterated the need to terminate any further move towards amending the Biosafety Act 2015.
Lending his voice, the President of the All-Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Arc Kabir Ibrahim emphasized that all the farmers in Nigeria are in support of Biotechnology and any attempt that is targeted at limiting the scope of Biotechnology operation in Nigeria should not be welcome.
The AFAN President said that Nigerian farmers need technology that will lift them out of poverty and that biotechnology is the only solution.
The farmer also went further to share his experience with the farming of the biotech beans in Nigeria, PBR Cowpea.
“I have been farming PBR Cowpea since its inception, and I can categorically tell you that the PBR Cowpea is giving me a wonderful experience, I get more than 3 times the yield of the local beans” Kabir concluded.
Also addressing members of the public and Senators present at the public hearing, the former President of the Genetic Society of Nigeria (GSN) advised that the proposal to amend the Biosafety Bill 2015 should be thrown into the bin with immediate effect.
He said that Nigeria as a Nation has moved pass this stage in science and any individual trying to drag the Nation backward should not be given any consideration.
African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB) Project Manager, Mr Vitumbiko Chinoko also shared more light on why the amendment of the 2015 Biosafety Acts should not be given any consideration.
Mr Vitumbiko emphasized that Nigeria which has already established herself as the leading Biosafety driver in Africa would lose her position if her Biosafety Act is amended to limit the scope of researchers in the country.