U.S. urges Nigeria to pass biosafety laws

The U.S. Department of State recently announced that it would not aid the development of a biotechnology sector in Nigeria until the country adopts an appropriate legal framework.

Fatuma Sanneh, a state department economics and commerce officer, said that Nigeria's failure to enact biosafety laws would restrict aid from the United States, according to AllAfrica.com.

"We have concern about the law, it has to be in place," Sanneh said, Tribune.com.ng reports.

Sanneh exchanged views with Professor Bamidele Solomon, the director-general of Nigeria's National Biotechnology Development Agency, while visiting Abuja.

During an earlier welcome address, Solomon said that two major U.S. biotech companies, Monsanto and Syngenta, have shown reservations about engaging in serious dialogue about biotechnology prospects in Nigeria.

Solomon said that he was optimistic that biosafety laws would soon be enacted in Nigeria. He appealed to the U.S. delegation to assist in facilitating collaboration between Nigeria and U.S. biotech companies so that Nigeria could catch up quickly in the evolving global bio-economy.

Clive James, the founder of the International Service for Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, recently said that Nigeria was making significant strides towards mainstreaming biotechnology in national legislation and policy frameworks, according to AfricaScienceNews.org.

Regardless, it has been over five years since Nigeria began efforts to craft significant biosafety legislation, which would provide a framework for the use of genetically modified crops, according to SciDev.net.