Pro-GMO activist and founder of Abuja based NGO, Every Woman Hope Centre (EWHC), Edel-Quinn Ijeoma Agbaegbu, was last week , appointed and decorated as a biosafety ambassador in Nigeria. Agbaegbu’s appointment took place at a biosafety conference organised by the National Biosafety Management Agency(NBMA).
Agbaegbu who is also publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Lifecare Journal, was among forty-six persons decorated with NBMA’s hand band, as part of the activities of the Third National Biosafety Conference held at the Conference Hall, Nile University, Abuja on 14th September 2017 with the theme “Biosafety, Paving the Way for Safe and Sustainable Environmental Management, Agricultural Development and Economic Recovery’’.
Others who were also decorated as Biosafety Ambassadors at the conference included the Honourable Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril , Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi who represented the Senate Committee Chairman on Environment at the conference; Dr. Shehu Ahmed, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment; Dr. Jeremy Ouedraogo, Head of African Biosafety Network of Expertise/New Partnership for African Development (ABNE/NEPAD) and Dr. Rose Gidado, Country Representative of Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology (OFAB).
The Vice Chancellor of Ambrose Ali University Ekpoma, Edo state, Engr. Chike Chikwendu; Deputy Vice Chancellor, Nile University, Abuja and Dr. Hussaini Doko, Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) who was ably represented at the occasion by the Director of Agriculture and Agro-Allied, Dr. A.A. Ogunwusi were also among people decorated as Biosafety Ambassadors at the conference.
The Director-General/CEO of NBMA, Dr. Rufus Ebegba explained that the decoration of the Biosafety Ambassadors was in appreciation of their support to the activities of the Agency and capacity to help spread the gospel of biosafety everywhere they go, by sharing information and knowledge on modern agricultural biotechnology and biosafety matters through strategic communications and outreach to create an enabling environment for sustainable development in Nigeria.
It was indeed, a day of honour for the founder of EWHC as the paper she delivered at the conference on ‘’Constructive Activism for Strengthening Modern Biotechnology Regulation in Africa’’, was among eleven key papers also discussed at the technical session of the one day conference.
She made a strong case for support and encouragement to the NBMA in the discharge of their responsibilities, aligning her views to those of The Director General/CEO of the Agency, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, to the effect that ‘’The Agency is committed to adoption of safe modern biotechnology in the diversification of the Nigeria’s economy under sound biosafety regulatory framework’’, and the the Agency’s resolve to ensure safety to human health and the environment of any GMO that would be released for any purpose in Nigeria.
Agbaegbu also took a swipe against promoters of rising opposition against modern biotechnology and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Nigeria.
Describing some of their statements as mean, destructive, condemnable and unpatriotic, the Executive Director of EWHC ended with the following strong words: ‘’the worldwide scientific consensus on the safety of genetic engineering is as solid as that which underpins human-caused global warming. Yet this basic truth on GMOs, that they’re as safe, as conventionally cultivated food, is ignored when ideological interests are threatened’’.
She added that there is no doubt that advancement in any technology also goes with some potential adverse impacts and modern biotechnology is not an exception in this regard. ‘’This is the basis for the domestication of the Categena Protocol in Africa particularly Nigeria by enacting the National Biosafety act of 2015 as a means for addressing potential adverse impacts of modern technology and GMOs on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, taking into account risks to human health she continued. Therefore, the time has come for a constructive activism for strengthening modern biotechnology regulation in Africa. All efforts should be concentrated on making this system work’’ she concluded.