GENOME EDITING: NBMA TRAINS STAFF ON REGULATION
The National Biosafety Management in conjunction with the Programme for Biosafety Systems (PBS) has commenced 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 emphasised that the training 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. Ebegba said 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 utilise the opportunity to acquire the needed knowledge that will aid the agency in proper regulation of the technology.
In his remark, Africa Coordinator, PBS, John Komen, who commended NBMA on strides made in the last five years, especially in the expansion of the NBMA Act, expressed joy at the successful commercialisation of the first engineered food crop (PBR-Cowpea) in the Sub-Saharan Africa by Nigeria. He described this as 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.He encouraged NBMA not to be deterred by the different challenges it is facing, as resistance is always faced at introduction of a new technology, assuring 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 them on the science of genome editing, to identify the possible risks, if any, that may be associated with genome editing, among others.