NBMA begins drafting of guidelines on genome editing

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The National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) has begun drafting of guidelines for the proper regulation of genome editing in Nigeria.

Dr. Rufus Ebegba, the Director General, NBMA disclosed this in a statement issued by Gloria Ogbaki, Head, Press Unit of the agency, while speaking at the guideline drafting workshop in Abuja.

Ebegba said that there was the need to have proper guidelines for regulation of genome editing “which is an emerging aspect of modern biotechnology’’.

The amendment of the NBMA Act, 2015 includes Synthetic Biology, Gene Editing, Gene Drive and Biosecurity and this is aimed at expanding the scope of the agency’s mandate to regulate emerging technologies.

“The expansion of the scope of responsibility of the agency by the Federal Government is an indication of government’s firm resolve to ensure that any unintended effect that could result from the technology is nipped in the bud.’’

Dr. Moussa Savadogo, the Principal Programme Officer for Environmental Biosafety and Coordinator of AUDA-NEPAD Office in Burkina Faso, lauded the Nigerian Biosafety system as the best in Africa.

Science, technology and innovation are at the forefront of development and Nigeria’s decision to include emerging technologies in its Biosafety Act speaks of the country’s commitment to improve the economy and remain the giant of Africa,” Savadogo said.

Sam Timpo, Senior Programme Officer with the Agency African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE) under NEPAD, highlighted the need for the genome editing workshop as agreed by all African Union member States.

Timpo said the regulation of modern biotechnology in Africa had great potential to help farmers overcome the many challenges being faced with their crops resulting from diseases and pests.

The three-day workshop began on Oct. 8 and it involves training staff of the agency to strengthen their capacity on genome editing regulation and a draft guideline on genome editing is expected at the end of the workshop.