Agu Dawn, Abuja
The Director-General (DG) of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA), Dr Rufus Ebegba, has said that the development of the National Biosafety guidelines on the regulation of gene editing is another stride in having a robust and holistic guidelines and to remove all hindrances in the regulation of gene-edited products.
The DG, who said this during the meeting to review the National guidelines on gene editing in Abuja on Tuesday, noted that the guidelines have been in the works and have been sent to various stakeholders who had equally subjected them to various analysis.
Dr Ebegba said the NBMA is interested in confirming the safety of the genes that are moved from one organism to another to be sure that these genes do not cause harm or change the efficacy of the organism.
‘The NBMA is already developing guidelines for the proper regulation of gene-edited products and we will focus on products that the genes are retained after modification, we will also check for the source of the gene and draw up a pathway for the review of the application for permit of gene-edited products and vice versa.
‘It is our responsibility as a regulatory Agency to properly scrutinise gene-edited products, carry out a risk assessment and come up with risk management approaches.
‘The inclusion of the regulation of gene-edited products in the mandate of the NBMA has required us to take even more proactive steps in line with the directives of the Federal Government to ensure that science and technology especially modern Biotechnology is properly regulated and deployed in a safe and secured manner.
‘We believe in the diversification of the economy and the deployment of safe and secured science and technology are key to achieving this giant feat in the country,’ he said.
The representative of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), Africa Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), Mrs Modupe Adeyemo, said: ‘Safe modern Biotechnology has been identified as an essential tool for development in this modern era hence it is very important to properly and adequately regulate this sector in other to properly harness its potentials.’
She said the NBMA has been setting the pace for biosafety regulations in Africa and as a result of the recent expansion, there is need to bring together various stakeholders to ensure that the policy document is adequately reviewed in line with the international requirements for genome editing.
‘The ABNE is hopeful the guidelines that will come from the meeting will be a model for other member countries to follow.’
Various segments of the guidelines include background to gene editing, scope of gene editing in Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, Gene editing techniques, global regulatory approaches to gene editing and general provisions for applications.
The one-day meeting had stakeholders from various sectors including scientists, regulators and legal practitioners in attendance.