Overview of the biosafety system in Nigeria


Abstract: Nigeria signed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) of the Convention on
Biological Diversity in 2000 and ratified it in 2003. The National Biosafety Management
Agency (NBMA) is the competent authority on biosafety that provides a regulatory framework, institutional and administrative mechanisms for safety measures in the application of modern biotechnology and its products in Nigeria with the view to preventing any adverse effect on human health, animals, plants, and the environment. NBMA also regulates emerging modern biotechnology like gene editing, gene drive, synthetic biology, and puts measures in place to ensure biosecurity in Nigeria. Nigeria, through its competent authority, has established and developed biosafety frameworks of international standards including genetically modified organisms (GMOs) detection and analysis laboratory, development of the national biosafety policy and regulation, and development of several biosafety regulatory instruments and guidelines. Some of these instruments and guidelines include GMO risk assessment and risk management guidelines, a risk communication strategy, guidelines for inspection of facilities, guidelines for biosafety permit applications (for containment, confined and multi-location field trials, commercial release, and import/export), and recently guidelines for genome editing. Besides a number of field trials, commercialization/market release has been granted for Bt cotton, pod-borer resistant (PBR) cowpea and drought-resistant TELA maize. While facing some challenges, like inadequate funding and anti-GMO campaigns without scientific back-up, the Nigeria biosafety system serves as a model for West Africa and the entire African continent due to its commitment in ensuring international best standards for biosafety processes, characterized by integrity and transparency as core regulatory values.

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