Why Jonathan should sign Biosafety Bill – Prof Ishiyaku

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Prof. Muhammad Faguji Ishiyaku is the Dean of Student Affairs of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and Programme Leader of Biotechnology Research Programme of the Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) of the University. In this exclusive interview with Abdallah el-Kurebe who was at a Media Training organized by Biosciences for Farming in Africa (B4FA) at the Institute, Prof. Ishiyaku spoke on Biosafety & Biotechnology and the need for President Jonathan to expedite assent on the Biosafety Bill and other issues relating to mass food production. Excerpts:

Against Nigeria’s quest for food security, do you see any need for the application of biotechnology for mass food production?

First of all, the application of science on Agriculture is aimed at solving the problems of food security in Africa, not Nigeria alone. There is the need for Africa to keep its citizens from hunger against the ever-growing population. This is as important as keeping a standard army in any country, except if we want to lag behind.

Talking about Nigeria, for the country to attain the Agriculture Transformation Agenda, which is now being pursued, necessary steps aimed at institutionalizing biotechnology in the country must also be aggressively pursued. On the whole, I think there should be pressure on policy makers to refocus and reprioritize their area of attention, especially where food is involved.

Do you see the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) as being comprehensive enough in the absent of the Biosafety Bill?

In the first place, the researches being conducted in all our research centres on biotechnology would be useless if that law is not signed into law. We have a law that backs the conduct of research. But for commercialization purposes, we need to have an act from the National Assembly to allow for the commercialization of these products.

If the President refuses to ascent to that bill into a law, which I doubt, it means that the results of these researches would remain on the shelves of our laboratories. What we are doing is targeting the problems that our people are facing with a view to solving them.

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