In a bid to fast-track quest for a legislative frame work to regulate the application of biotechnology in Nigeria, the Senate yesterday held a public hearing on the bio-safety bill currently before it, to guarantee legitimate control and practices in the country.
The public hearing, which provided a platform for stakeholders from various relevant sectors, ministries, departments and agencies to make their contributions as well as submit memoranda each to the Senate Committee for prompt action was a major boost for advocates of the law.
Stakeholders at the public hearing included members of the National Assembly and ministries of agriculture, environment, science and technology, as well as research community, farmers associations, the academia, civil societies, Nigerian Academy of Science, amongst others.
The Senate President, David Mark, who declared open the session, stressed the need for the adoption of modern and other acceptable means of enhancing the country’s self-sufficiency in food production to meet up with the increasing global population.
Represented by Senate Committee Chairman on Interior, Senator Atiku Bagudu, Mark emphasized that stakeholders should highlight in their presentations the economic, environmental and social benefits of biotechnology for the country’s agriculture.
“The issue of bio-technology is an international one and Nigeria is signatory to the Cartagena protocol on bio-safety regulations, Mark said. “But, we must domesticate the issues involved so as to benefit from the technology.”
Earlier, Senate Committee Chairman on Agriculture, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha said the National Assembly was committed to ensuring that the law which was passed but did not get presidential assent before the end of the sixth Assembly, is passed before the end of the seventh assembly.
Bwacha further explained that the law was necessary to put a framework in place to regulate biotechnology application in Nigeria adding that, “the bill provides derived benefits from modern biotechnology for economic growth, improved agriculture, jobs and wealth creation, industry growth and sustainable environment.”
Meanwhile, various presentations were made by National Agency for Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Science and Technology, All Farmers Association, National Association of Cotton Growers.