Press Release: Nigeria Gets Biosafety Law

Agriculture, Environment, Health

PRESS RELEASE

By

Prof. Lucy Jumeyi Ogbadu, Director-General/CEO, National Biotechnology Development Agency, Abuja

Nigeria has finally joined the league of Biotechnology countries

President Goodluck Jonathan has signed the National Biosafety Agency Bill, which is a milestone in the domestication of modern biotechnology in Nigeria a giant stride that will allow the country to join the league of countries advanced in the use of this cutting edge technology as another window to boost economic development in Nigeria. It will create more employment, boost food production that will put a smile on the faces of farmers and alleviate hunger if given good attention by government.

The National Biosafety Act is crucial in the management of Modern Biotechnology in the country. Modern Biotechnology has been identified as an important tool that can help countries to achieve food sufficiency/food security, industrial growth, health improvement and environmental sustainability while the Biosafety Act will give the legal framework to check the activities of modern biotechnology locally as well as imported GM crops into the country as well as providing avenue to engage Nigerian scientist s/experts from different fields to identify and pursue solutions to our local challenges”.

The Biosafety Law also recognizes the complex issues to be addressed by Central Authorities in the judicious application of Modern Biotechnology; it bases the deliberate release of GMO on Advance Informed Agreement (AIA)”.

Biosafety Law:

I. Defines offenses and Penalty for violation of the act

II. Contains powers to authorize release of GMOs and practice of modern biotechnology activities.

III. Confers the power to carry out risk assessment/management before the release, handling and use of GMOs,

IV. Covers all genetically modified organisms/Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) and products thereof including food/feed and processing.

V. Covers socio-economic consideration in risk assessment

The Benefits of Modern Biotechnology include among others, the following:

a. Capacity for enhanced food security

b. Environmental protection and conservation through production of stress tolerant planting materials for re-vegetation, re-afforestation, soil binding for erosion control as well as genetically enhanced organisms for bioremediation of oil polluted sites

c. Improvement in plants and animals yields as well as nutritional values

d. Production of new breeds/varieties of animals and plants.

e. Reduction in the use of pesticides

f. Reduction in farming land area with higher yields, facilitates Job and wealth creation, leads to better health facilities,

g. Promotion of bioorganic fertilizer development and industrial growth through feedstock development.

h. Promotion and development of biopharmaceuticals production, Stem Cell technology, biometrics, etc in Nigeria

i. Biodiversity conservation

Purpose of the Law

The Biosafety Law is for an act to provide for the management of Biosafety and other related matters and it seeks to:

a) Harness the potentials modern biotechnology has to offer under a legal regulatory regime.

b) Ensure environmental, human and socio-economic safety while harnessing the benefits associated with the practice of modern biotechnology and its outputs,

c) Exercise the sovereign right over all the nation’s natural resources and authority to regulate access to such resources.

d) Allay the fear of the populace on the socio-economic consequences of modern biotechnology, especially among the small scale farming systems that are prevalent in Nigeria.

e) Reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to the principles of the World Trade Organization and to reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to the goals and objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which Nigeria has signed and ratified.

f) Safe use of modern biotechnology and provide holistic approach to the regulation of modified organisms in Nigeria.

g) Safeguard human health and the environment from any potential; adverse effect of genetically modified organism including food safety.

h) Provide measures for the assessment of genetically modified organism and management of risk in order to ensure safety in the use of genetically modified organisms to human health and the environment.

i) Ensure that the use of the genetically modified organism does not have undesired impact on socio – economic and cultural interest either at the community or National level.

j) Ensure the Law makes provision for the establishment of a competent agency which would work in line with existing institutional bodies to prevent unsafe use of genetically modified organisms as well as develop risk managements plan and strategy for protecting human health, biology diversity, and the environment from potentials risks associated with genetically modified organisms.

k) Ensure that Nigeria will have the opportunity to harness the potentials modern technology has to offer in the field of improved food production, medicine/health, Industrial growth and environmental sustainability, generation of Employment and wealth creation through the Modern Biotechnology industry.

l) Bring about responsible Research and Development in Modern Biotechnology,

m) Ensure that Nigeria will be able to guarantee the purity of its agricultural products for the international market, there by gaining international partners and also foreign earning.

n) Ensure that Nigeria will not serve as a dumping ground for unregulated Genetically Modified Organisms which may have impact on the environment and human health

Nigeria Gets Biosafety Law, Joins League of Biotechnology countries

Agriculture, Environment, Health, Science

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Nigeria has finally joined the league of biotechnology countries with the signing the National Biosafety Agency Bill into law by President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday.

The Law seeks to domesticate modern biotechnology used by advanced countries as cutting-edge technology to boost economic development.

A statement signed by the Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of National Biotechnology Development Agency, Prof. Lucy Jumeyi Ogbadu stated that the Act would “create more employment, boost food production that will put a smile on the faces of farmers and elevate hunger if given good attention by government.”

According to the statement, “The National Biosafety Act is crucial in the management of Modern Biotechnology in the country. Modern Biotechnology has been identified as an important tool that can help countries to achieve food sufficiency/food security, industrial growth, health improvement and environmental sustainability.

“The Biosafety Act will provide the legal framework to check the activities of modern biotechnology locally as well as imported genetically modified crops into the country, including the provision of avenue to engage Nigerian scientists/experts from different fields to identify and pursue solutions to our local challenges.”

It could be recalled that during Netmapping Workshop organized by Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology at Maizube Farms in Minna, Niger State, former Head of State, General Abdulsalam Abubakar observed that “Agricultural Biotechnology has changed the lives of the rural cotton farmers in Burkina Faso. It has also changed the lives for the better of poor farmers in Brazil and Argentina.”

While recognizing the complex issues to be addressed by Central Authorities in the judicious application of Modern Biotechnology, “the Biosafety Law also bases the deliberate release of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) on Advance Informed Agreement (AIA).”

The signed Law addresses the following:
i. Defines offenses and penalty for violation of the act; ii. contains powers to authorize release of GMOs and practice of modern biotechnology activities; iii. confers the power to carry out risk assessment/management before the release, handling and use of GMOs; iv. covers all genetically modified organisms/Living Modified Organisms (LMOs) and products thereof including food/feed and processing and
v. covers socioeconomic consideration in risk assessment.

What Nigeria stands to benefit from Modern Biotechnology among others include the following: a. capacity for improved food security; b. environmental protection and conservation through production of stress tolerant planting materials for re-vegetation, re-afforestation, soil binding for erosion control as well as genetically enhanced organisms for bioremediation of oil polluted sites

Others are: c. improvement in plants and animals yields as well as nutritional values; d. production of new breeds/varieties of animals and plants and e. reduction in the use of pesticides.

Also, f. reduction in farming land area with higher yields, facilitates Job and wealth creation, leads to better health facilities; g. promotion of bioorganic fertilizer development and industrial growth through feed-stock development; h. promotion and development of biopharmaceuticals production, Stem Cell technology, biometrics, etc in Nigeria and i. biodiversity conservation.

One thing the law will provide is an accelerated agricultural development for an African giant.

Large Consumption, Impact of Climate Change Will Affect Food Security and Water Supplies – Says FAO

Agriculture, Environment

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said although there would be enough water to produce food for 10 billion people in 2050, consumption rate and the impact of climate change would still threaten food security and water supplies in many regions.

According to the report already, water scarcity already affects more than 40 percent of the world’s population because too much water was being used to produce food.

FAO and the World Water Council (WWC), in the joint report stated that by 2050, 60 percent more food would be needed to feed the world’s people, a situation that would warrant food production, sustainably to ensure future supplies of food. This, the report observed, was because farming remained the largest user of water.

Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General of Natural Resources further stated: “In an era of accelerated changes, unparalleled in our past, our ability to provide adequate, safe and nutritious food sustainably and equitably is more relevant than ever.

“Water, as an irreplaceable element of achieving this end, is already under pressure by increasing demands from other uses, exacerbated by weak governance, inadequate capacities, and under-investment.”

The report added that excessive use and pollution of water resources in key food-producing regions were threatening the sustainability of jobs that depend on water and agriculture.

President of the WWC, Benedito Braga, stated that “Agriculture has to follow the path of sustainability and not the one of immediate profitability.”

FAO and WWC therefore called on governments to provide enabling policies as well as private and public sectors to investment in order to ensure that crops, livestock and fish were produced sustainably, including ways that also protect water resources.

This, they said was essential to reduce poverty, increase people’s incomes and ensure food security, the report said.

Arusha Hosts Post-Durban Dialogue On Climate Change and Agriculture

Environment

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

A three-day Post-Durban Dialogue on climate change and agriculture, aimed at examining the outcome of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP 17) held in Durban in November-December 2011, has opened in Arusha, Tanzania.

Jointly organized by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); the East African Community, (EAC) in collaboration with Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS-EA) and a global programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR),

According to a statement, the Dialogue which brought climate change and agriculture experts from nine Eastern Africa countries of Burundi, DRC, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda together, will “focus on decisions of agriculture with a view to propose activities that would be considered under the agricultural work programme of Parties (members of UNFCCC).”

Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture, Prof. Jumanne Abdallah Maghembe, represented by the Director General of Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), Ms Epiphania Kimaro assured experts at the opening session of the regional governments and Economic Communities’ commitment “to respond to the impacts of climate change collectively through policy and practical measures since the impacts had no boundaries.”

The minister commended COMESA and other partners for the technical support being provided to ensure that developing countries fully benefited from negotiations.

He added that the experts dialogue is an important opportunity for member States to reflect on the outcome of the Conference with the aim of preparing how to implement specific decisions that are of priority to the region and specifically to identify key issues relating to agriculture with a view to prepare a common position for consideration by the subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) during its 36th Session schedule for May 2012.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sector Mr. Jean Claude Nsengiyumva, who was represented by EAC Climate Change Coordinator, Mr. Brian Otiende informed the meeting that EAC was in the process of implementing three critical policy documents approved by the EAC Heads of State Summit in April 2011.

The policy documents include EAC Climate Policy (2011); the EAC Food Security Action Plan (2011-2015) and the Heads of States Summit Declaration on Food Security and Climate Change.

Claude reiterated that the EAC, COMESA and other strategic partners were committed to working with stakeholders in Eastern Africa with a view to developing a common position on issues related to agriculture for consideration by SBSTA and other bodies of the COP.

Climate Change, Adaptation and African Agriculture

Environment

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Key Facts

¤ The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.” – The board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

¤ Climate Change affects the social and environmental determinants of health – clean air, safe drinking water, sufficient food and secure shelter 

¤ Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress

¤ Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases through better transport, food and energy-use choices can result in improved health, particularly through reduced air pollution – WHO

Almost all African countries are vulnerable to climate change. This is owing to their low adaptive capacity, including ever-growing dependence to on such resources that are sensitive to changes in climate.

Resulting from this, climate change threatens to inflict suffering on African nations as well as reverse the development gains that have been recorded over the years.

For example, Nigeria’s economic growth is principally based on oil, which is a climate-sensitive sector. Mining and agriculture are some others.

WHO’s projection of an “approximate 250,000 additional deaths per year from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress” as a result of climate change means a retardation of development efforts in Africa.

Nigeria’s population figure as at 2013 173,615,000. The bulk of this number belongs to the poor class many of who are rural farmers.

According to Africa Adaptation Knowledge Network (AAKNet), 96 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s population is dependent on rain-fed agriculture. In some countries, crop yields are predicted to fall by 50 percent by 2050.
Arable land is predicted to decline by six percent, which means that “food security and access to food will be severely compromised by climate change and poor rural communities and poor countries with the least financial, institutional and technological capacity to adapt will face the worst impacts.”

The introduction of agroforestry in agricultural systems will help, in no small measure, in mitigating climate change impact for rural farmers.

Deforestation, land degradation are contributing to trees disappearance from agricultural landscape and AAKNet says that “around 17 percent of all CO2 emissions are caused by deforestation and land degradation.

“An increase of arid and semi-arid land of five-eight percent is projected for Africa by 2080,” is stated.

Although the actual percentage of Nigeria’s land degraded by desertification is not ascertained, it is estimated that 43 percent of the total land area is suffers from the environmental menace.

For example, Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara states are characterized by sandy soils and low annual rainfall.

It is therefore imperative for “a multi-tier approach to be employed in order to build capacities of governments and communities in Africa to effectively respond to and adapt to climate change.”

The Network recommends that: “the assessment of social and economic vulnerabilities needs to be strengthened so as to inform processes for identifying adaptation priorities

“There is a need for national adaptation policies that provide clear guidelines for integration and implementation of strategies, programmes and activities

“Mainstreaming climate change into economic frameworks and sectoral policies is of paramount importance in order to ensure integrated adaptation responses,” and

“There is a need for increased adaptation funding at local and national levels with priority to such vulnerable groups as smallholder farmers, etc.

CSE Questions US’ Commitment on Climate Targets

Environment

By Abdallah el-Kurebe 
 
The New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has described the United State’s climate action plan – the ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ (INDCs) as grossly inadequate. It also sees US, which has a history of being the world’s largest polluter of the environment, as doing less to address climate change.

A release issued by CSE on April 1, 2015, observed that the INDCs was a replication of “its earlier pledge made in November 2014, which is “neither fair nor ambitious, and way short of what is needed to keep global warming under 2 degree centigrade.”
 
According to experts at CSE, “In its mitigation-centric INDC, the US commits to cutting greenhouse gases by 26-28 per cent by 2025 against the 2005 level. What this essentially means is that the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the US in 2025 will be 5 billion tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Its per capita emissions would be 14 tonne CO2e in 2025. In comparison, in 2025, India’s total emissions will be about 4 billion tonne and its per capita emissions will be less than 3 tonne.”
 
CSE further observes that although the US mentions Clean Air Act, Energy Policy Act, and Energy Independence and Security Act, “it has no data on sector-wise emissions and the INDC is thin on details on how the target is going to be achieved.
 
“The US INDC is even less ambitious than what was pledged in Copenhagen when the US had said they would be on the pathway to a 30 per cent reduction in 2025 and a 42 per cent reduction in 2030. This pledge falls short of even that weak target. And this is when the world is witnessing extreme weather events and unprecedented calamities attributable to climate change.” Sunita Narain, director general of CSE said of US.
 
The statement compared the 26-28 percent reduction over 2005 as amounting to 15-17 percent over the 1990 levels. “In comparison, the European Union will reduce its emissions by at least 40 percent (by 2030) – more than double that of the US.”

CSE however estimated that to meet the 2°C target, “US emissions should be at least 50-60 per cent below 1990 levels, considering its historical responsibility of causing climate change and its present capability of solving it.”

The Centre observed that the actual reduction of emissions by the US would be much lesser than the 26-28 percent reduction because “the US target involved all greenhouse gases as well as offsets from CO2 absorption from sinks such as forests and land use changes.”
It also lamented the non reference in the INDC as to how the US planned to fund its pledge of USD$3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, which is aimed at supporting the climate change plans of developing countries. “The Fund has received less than one percent of the promises made till date.
 
“Ironically, even these shallow commitments on the part of the US lack support domestically and the Republicans are strongly opposed to policies and Acts for climate change; particularly the rules on curbing pollution from power plants and federal policy on renewable energy,” CSE stated. 

It decreed the Republicans and industry groups’ attempt to undercut proposed US Environmental Protection Agency power plant regulations as well as pursuing court challenges and by urging states not to comply.
 
“The shoddy efforts to cut corners on the part of countries historically responsible for and with the maximum capacity and resources to deal with climate change, only mean that it is certain that the world will go over the 2 degree C target. Thanks to countries like the US, the world would be forced to gear up for more catastrophic and irreversible climate change impacts,” Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of CSE concluded.

FG safeguards environment with 24 regulations – NESREA

Environment

FG safeguards environment with 24 regulations – NESREA
By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Federal government of Nigeria has introduced 24 environmental
regulations aimed at adopting sustainable environment good practices, which are now in force.

Sokoto state
Coordinator of the National Environmental
Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), Alhaji Jubril Inuwa disclosed this in Wamakko on Wednesday.

Inuwa who spoke at the flag-off of Security Awareness, Early Warning Signs and Environmental Sustainability Sensitization programme organized by the State Office of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), also said that the regulations were aimed at providing legal frameworks for the adoption of sustainable and environment-friendly practices in
environmental sanitation.

According to him, “The purpose of these regulations is to provide legal framework for the adoption of sustainable and environment-friendly practices in
environmental sanitation and waste management to minimize pollution.”

Enumerating some of the regulations to include National Environmental (Sanitation and Waste Regulations, 2009, Inuwa added that they were also to prevent and minimize pollution and  ensure tranquility of the human environment, among other purposes.

He explained that public awareness and provision of environmental education was a vital way of effective enforcement of environmental regulations.

Speaking, Director of NOA in Sokoto state, Alhaji Abubakar Danchadi said that the objective of the programme was to increase security awareness of the people.

“This is to improve the quality of life of Nigerians through
sustained sound sanitation practices in homes and communities,” he said.

Posted by Abdallah el-Kurebe