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DG says NABDA set to achieve greater heights in 2017



The National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) says the agency is poised to achieve greater heights in biotechnology research this year in spite of the challenges of 2016.

Prof. Lucy Ogbadu, the Director-General of the agency Ogbadu made this resolve in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency on Thursday in Abuja.

Ogbadu specifically mentioned the turbulence of anti-GMO crusaders in 2016, saying that the agency was able to weather the storm.

“ 2016 was a year when the agency faced its fiercest opposition on the account of people and organisations opposed to genetically modified foods but the agency has come out stronger.

“In view of the extreme care and caution with which the GMO technique is conducted, there are no risks or hazards resulting from products that emanate from GMOs.

“Genetically modifies products are not new to mankind as it includes the yogurt that is consumed without fear and vaccines that is administered for healthcare.

“I reiterate that these products though not yet in our markets here are safe to consume; those against the GMO are talking without basic understanding of its process or just out of mere fear.

“Since the structure of the genetic material found within the nuclei of the plant is known, biotechnology or genetic engineering provides the opportunity for precision in selecting the exact gene that has the desired trait,’’ Ogbadu said.

The director-general said that in 2016, the agency partnered with the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) to set up HIV and AIDS intervention clinic.

According to her, the collaboration with NIPRD and other agencies like the National Action Committee on HIV and AIDS (NACA) as well as Aids Health Care Foundation (AHF) will achieve the desired results.

“The aim of the programme is to minimise the number of undetected HIV positive individuals in the workplace and eliminate budding infections.

“It will also help to determine the prevalence of HIV infection amongst staff of NABDA and Lugbe community and create more awareness and eliminate HIV stigma.

“Develop efficient HIV and AIDS intervention for vulnerable groups as well integrate HIV testing with basic clinical tests of opportunistic infections,’’ she said.

She expressed optimism that all these accomplishments were just stepping stones for what the agency hoped to realise in 2017.

Ogbadu said that the oppositions helped the agency to be more focused and even go further to achieve, especially in  capacity building of its personnel.

She said that NABDA also built the capacity of its staff by sponsoring them to do doctorate programmes in relevant courses and one of such people was Miss Ijeoma Akaogu, a senior scientific officer of the department of agricultural biotechnology.

“Ijeoma has been awarded the prestigious Norman Borlaug LEAP Fellowship funded by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

“She is studying Linkage Mapping for Striga resistance genes in early maturing tropical maize lines as part of her PhD thesis research project,’’ she said..

Edited by: Grace Yussuf

Onuegbu Perpetua

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