Stakeholders call for multi-sectorial approach to biosafety regulation

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Some stakeholders have called for a multi-sectoral approach to the regulation of bio safety in the country.

The call was part of resolutions reached after the stakeholder’s conference on Biosafety/Biodiversity organized by Health of Mother Earth Foundation, headed by the Nnimmo Bassey.

The stakeholders at the meeting include the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion, the National Agency for
Food and Drug Administration and Control, Federal Competition (NAFDAC),
Consumer Protection Commission and Standard Organization of Nigeria.

The communique called for collaboration in the regulation of bio safety in Nigeria.

“Stakeholders should promote networks of organic agriculture producers as part of the GMO-free, Nigeria Alliance to promote market for organic products and tackle climate change.

“Seed banks should be developed for the preservation of indigenous seed varieties.

“Lessons should be learned from the COVID-19 experience and embark on a radical rethink of
tinkering with genetic materials of living organisms as this can compromise our food system and health and can easily be weaponized.”

The statement said more research should be done and supported on GMOs and biosafety, adding that there should critical studies and analyses on the health hazards of GMOs.

“Messages on GMOs should be disseminated in forms that are understandable to different
stakeholders including by use of pidgin or local languages for a greater reach to the grassroots.

“Efforts should be made by all stakeholders/citizens to bring about radical changes on biosafety management in Nigeria.”

The stakeholders said there should be better support for smallholder farmers in terms of infrastructural development in
rural and sub-urban areas including the construction and maintenance of feeder roads, storage and processing facilities and essential social amenities.

They added that national food production, storage and processing standards should be established and enforced to
address the issues of post-harvest losses.

“There should be free access to land by women/communities and provision of irrigation and extension services.

“Government should incentivize and encourage agro-ecological food production and use of organic inputs to address the issues of pest and diseases, increase production of nutritious and healthy foods, among others.’’

They also called for the amendment of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) Act and that the National Biotechnology Development Agency be taken off the board of the NBMA.

They suggested that strict liability clauses should be introduced and other identified loopholes rectified.

The resolutions were signed by various stakeholders at the conference including farmers, students, CSOs, medical practitioners, lawyers, journalists, legislative researchers and some public officers.