Nigeria urgently needs a bio-safety law to ensure food security and create several job opportunities for a new generation of young farmers, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Prof. Robert Boroffice, has said.
Boroffice said this when he led the committee members on an oversight visit to the National Biotechnology Development Agency in Abuja on Tuesday.
He called on President Goodluck Jonathan to consider the importance of the National Bio-safety Bill, currently before him, to the economy of the nation.
Both chambers of the National Assembly passed the bill more than a year ago but it has yet to become a law because the President has not given assent to the bill.
Boroffice urged the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Ita Ewa, to meet with the President and persuade him on the importance of signing the bill into law.
However, he declined to say whether the National Assembly would override the President’s assent given the length of time the bill had stayed without his approval.
The Senate committee chairman said there was a limit to what NABDA could do without the bill, adding that the operations of genetically modified products must be within the ambits of the law.
He stressed the importance of biotechnology in guaranteeing food security in the country as well as creating job opportunities for a new generation of young farmers.
Boroffice also called on the private sector to commercialise some of the findings of NABDA, adding that it was not the responsibility of the research agency to develop the findings of its research endeavours.
He also called on the biotechnology agency to ensure that it marketed its products, services and opportunities to relevant organisations and private sector operators.
Speaking during the visit, the Director-General, NABDA, Prof. Bamidele Solomon, allayed the fear that genetically modified foods were unsafe for consumption.
Solomon said the consumption of genetically modified foods did not pose any risk to human health as they had not been found to pose any danger in countries where they had been approved.
The NABDA boss said if there was any risk in GM foods, it was the same risks that were discovered in conventional foods.