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Nigeria to develop bio-safety regulatory infrastructure

LAGOS, April 1 (Xinhua) -- The government of Nigeria is set to develop bio-safety regulatory infrastructure in research institutions in the country, Minister of Environment Laurentia Mallam said on Tuesday.

The development of infrastructure would ensure safety in the application of Genetically Modified (GM) foods whenever Nigeria domesticated the new technology, Mallam said at a two-day workshop on Strengthening Regulatory Capacity of Institutional Bio-safety ( IBS) in Nigeria.

GM foods are foods produced from crops whose genes have been altered by the introduction of certain organisms to create new crop traits, through genetic engineering method.

The minister said the government, in collaboration with other relevant organizations, would embark on the sensitization of relevant research institutions to strengthen regulatory framework in such institutions for the purpose of capacity building.

According to her, the government would continue to sensitize farmers and the entire populace on the application of the modern biotechnology.

Mallam disclosed that the government was re-visiting the bill with the aim signing into law.

The Nigerian National Assembly passed the Bio-safety Bill on June 1, 2011, and it had since been awaiting Presidential assent.

The Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety is an international agreement as a supplement to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by GM organisms resulting from modern biotechnology application.

The Bio-safety Protocol makes clear that products from new technologies must be based on the precautionary principle and allow developing nations to balance public health against economic benefits.

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