International Biotechnology Conference, Exhibition And Workshop 2020 Communique on SDGs


 The Biennal Conference of the Department of Biological Sciences, IBCEW held virtually between July 21 and 22 via Covenant University’s zoom platform. The theme of the conference is ‘Harnessing Biotechnological Tools: A Pathway for National Development’. There were two sub-themes, Biotechnological Protection of Environmental Safety and Sustainability of Industrial Biotechnology. The Keynote Speaker was Dr. Charles Adetunji who is the Director, Intellectual Property, Edo University, Iyanmo. He addressed the theme of the conference. There were also two Guest Speakers, Dr. Rufus Ebegba, the Director-General of National Biosafety Management Agency Abuja, Nigeria who spoke on the first sub-theme; and Dr. A. K. Lawal, Director, Biotechnology Department, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Lagos, Nigeria who delivered a lecture on the second sub-theme. The first sub-theme addressed Sustainable Development Goals 6 (Good Health and Sanitation), 14 (Life Below Water), and 15 (Life on Land). The second sub-theme addressed SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). In all, there were about eighty (80) registered participants, and about sixty-five (65) papers were presented in the course of the conference. This year, we partnered with the Journal of Natural Product Research, which is a journal indexed in Scopus for the publication of the papers that were presented. At the moment, some of the papers will be published in the issue of the journal which will be out by the end of this month, while others will be published in the next issue. Although some of the papers were rejected, an appreciable number were still accepted. We have applied to the University for the payment of the accepted papers and we believe it is receiving the required attention. All of the published papers will be hosted on our website as soon as they are published and the link will be forwarded as requested.

Going forward in future conferences, the department is looking at organizing our conferences, tailoring it towards some of the issues that have been raised arising from the conference. We are also looking at addressing more SDGs in our themes and sub-themes. We will also be looking at bringing more persons in government agencies who could be influential in initiating the solutions to some of the problems coming to the fore in the course of the conference.

The conference kicked off on the first day the 21st of July 2020 at about 9:30 am with an opening ceremony. There was an opening prayer said by Dr. Bunmi K. Olopade. Thereafter, the National anthem and Covenant University anthem were taken. Protocols were established, and prominent personalities were recognized.

The LOC chair; Dr. Opeyemi I. Ayanda gave his remark. He welcomed everyone to the conference. He recognized all the members of the Local Organizing Committee, sponsors, speakers, and participants for their immense contribution to the realization of the conference.

The Head of Department, Prof. Solomon U. Oranusi also gave his welcome address. He discussed the importance of the conference, especially as biotechnology would provide solutions to health, environmental and societal problems most notably in this era of the COVID 19 pandemic. He stressed the need for the conference to provide solutions and not just be a gathering of talkers.

The then Vice-Chancellor, Prof. A.A.A. Atayero, also gave his remarks and discussed the several challenges facing the world today, including climate change which has degraded the ecosystem. These problems limit sustainability in agriculture, healthcare, and human wellbeing in general. However, Nigeria and Africa have not tapped into Biotechnology as the solution to these problems. He stated the commitment of Covenant University to fostering interdisciplinary research, especially by funding research clusters. He said Covenant University is also open to collaborating with other players in this field. He stated that this conference could not have come at a better time, especially with the present COVID-19 pandemic. He said that he expected research deliverables such as innovations and partnerships with the industry from the papers that will be presented. These he hoped will be relevant to our context and to solve Africa’s problems. Finally, the Vice-Chancellor declared the conference open.

Dr Popoola read the citation of the keynote speaker Dr. Charles Adetunji. In his address, he first appreciated the University management and HOD for inviting him as the keynote speaker. He delivered the keynote address on ‘Harnessing Biotechnology Tools: A Pathway for National Development’. He stressed the importance of biotechnology in the digital revolution, smart cities, human capacity and demography, food and biosphere, decarbonization, and energy among others. Dr. Adetunji also discussed the role of biotechnology in ensuring sustainable development and stressed the role that Nigeria would play as we have been blessed with natural resources.

He noted that although universities are carrying out research, it must be translational and related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - food security, sustainable agriculture, improved health, and wellbeing. He challenged researchers to align their research to the SDG goals.

He also discussed some of his research products which include the:

  • · development of a bioherbicide for farmers to stop the use of synthetic herbicides which harms the ecosystem and health. The product has been patented and produced locally. 
  • discover a biosurfactant that is safe and cheap
  • · development of animal feed from edible mushrooms (Pleurotus spp)
  • · development of biodegradable and bioactive substance for the edible coating to prolong the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables for about 6-8 months.
  • · use of nanotechnology for food safety and in enhancing agricultural productivity
  • · discovery of an environmental-friendly biopesticide
  • · use of endophytes to promote food security
  • · use of genetically modified organisms in bioremediation of the heavily-polluted environments

Biotechnology and COVID-19

Dr. Adetunji stressed the need for biotechnologists to fully embrace the digital age and use Artificial Intelligence in research. He highlighted the use of biotechnology in vaccine development and the need for the development of a blueprint for therapeutics for COVID-19.

Furthermore, he discussed his contribution to the ‘From waste to wealth’ initiative. He mentioned that his research in India focused on the use of natural polymer in bone grafting for bone replacement patients. The polymers used for bone grafting were waste from crabs, eggshells, and snails.

He concluded by saying that biotechnology can use laboratory techniques to benefit the economy. He discussed the need to promote team science which consists of transdisciplinary, interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and monodisciplinary approaches to research, and strongly advocated for multidisciplinary research among biotechnologists.

In conclusion, the keynote speaker acknowledged the universities that have contributed to his research and the management team of Covenant University.

After his speech, there was a panel for discussion. The panelists were:

1. Prof. Chinedu N. Shalom

2. Prof. Olawole O. Obembe


Prof. Chinedu Shalom discussed industrial biotechnology and its global applications in the textile industry, pulp and paper industry, animal feed production, pharmaceutical, and galvanizing industries. He pointed out that enzyme technology is a vital part of Industrial biotechnology. He said that the essence of enzyme technology is to develop products that are unique and competitive. He also discussed the use of enzymes in the pharmaceutical industries in the development of semi-synthetic antibiotics, the use of enzymes in the leather and textile industries for the pre-treatment of hides and removal of stains, respectively.  He stressed the significance of enzyme application in the manufacture of products with minimal hazards and the production of cleaner gases with low fossil fuels.

Prof. O. Obembe thanked the keynote speaker for his address and emphasized the need for translating research into products and taking research to the end-users. He also stated the need for a national strategic plan to integrate all research into the bio-economy. He said that until this was done before the economy can reap the rewards of biotechnology. Finally, he re-echoed the need for start-ups and bio-incubators that will turn research into viable products primarily in the area of clean energy production and vaccine production.

Several questions were asked, and the keynote guest speaker provided answers. The LOC presented a plaque of recognition to the keynote speaker, and the HOD received it on his behalf; Prof Solomon U. Oranusi on his behalf. The LOC secretary gave the announcements, and the LOC chairperson appreciated the keynote speaker and the guest speakers. Short break

The session resumed at 11.35 am.


Speaker 2: Dr. Rufus E. Ebegba

Dr. Rufus Ebegba delivered his address titled ‘Environmental Biotechnology and a Safe Environment’.

He defined environmental biotechnology as the manipulation of living organisms to achieve desired results and identified areas of global environmental problems including pollution, global warming, ozone depletion, and climate change among others. The issues cause disease, environmental crises which pose a significant threat to human lives by causing disasters and tragedies. He opined that it could also be one of the reasons for casualties in the future.

 He stressed the need for the development of appropriate frameworks from responsible authorities to overcome these environmental issues. He also outlined the various roles of the National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA) which include the formulation and implementation of biosafety policy, detecting and analyzing products made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and ensuring the safety of these GMOs to the environment and human health. He stated the need for synergy among stakeholders for an effective biosafety system in Nigeria. He outlined various organizations and Universities that had been accredited for biosafety activities in Nigeria which include Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI) amongst others. He also mentioned the approved confined field trials for biotechnology products among which are: Biofortified sorghum for the availability of iron, zinc, protein and pro-vitamin A, Genetically modified (GM) cassava resistant to cassava mosaic virus and brown streak virus, GM rice for nitrogen use efficiency, Biofortified cassava to enhance pro-vitamin A and Biofortified cassava with iron. He also revealed that a permit had been given for the importation of GM crops for feed. He noted the consequences of the unregulated practice of modern biotechnology which could involve jail terms.  In conclusion, he informed attendees that NBMA had signed MoUs with many agencies to facilitate collaborative action towards safeguarding the health of Nigerians.


After his speech, there was also a panel of discussants to speak briefly on his lecture.

The panelists were:

1. Prof. Olubanke O. Ogunlana

2. Prof. Obinna C. Nwinyi

Prof. Ogunlana appreciated the Vice-Chancellor, the entire Department of Biological Sciences, and the keynote speaker for his contributions. Prof. Olubanke Ogunlana emphasized that global environmental issues affect public health adversely. She stressed the fact that biotechnology is of immense importance in mitigating the environmental issues highlighted by the speaker and further suggested that biotechnologists look into the area of biomining. She stressed the need for Nigerians to engage in biomining to enhance the removal of heavy metals from our environment. She noted that biomining is cheaper and further advised biotechnologists to apply the technology in areas with a high concentration of industries and energy production. She also suggested that the production and use of biofuel should be encouraged over fossil fuels because it is eco-friendly. The use of biofuels would help to drastically reduce the incidence of diseases, which will, in turn, positively impact the economy and health of the people.

Prof. Obinna Nwinyi defined the environment and the various branches of biotechnology. He identified the COVID-19 pandemic as part of interference from the environment. Professor Nwinyi said that human beings are in constant interaction with the environment, and, therefore, the natural environment and biodiversity must be conserved. He advocated for action plans from researchers in the universities stating the way to go in safeguarding the future, especially as it relates to food security. He also advised that measures should be taken to determine pre and post effects and competitive advantages of the potential pressures of the GMOs in the environment. Lastly, he proposed an upgrade in Laboratories and the training of researchers to achieve meaningful output. He stressed the need to carry out a risk assessment on each biotechnological method deployed concerning the environment. He also emphasized the need for every institution to have a Biosafety Management Committee.

The speaker responded to questions raised after the discussion. A plaque of recognition was presented to the keynote speaker and the HOD; Prof. Oranusi received the award on his behalf.

A short break was observed before resuming the first technical session. Several presentations were taken, and the meeting came to a close at 2.30 pm.    




The opening prayer was said by Dr. Akinnola O.O. by 9: 19 am. The program anchor/master of the event in person of Mr. Oyewale J.O. observed all protocols while acknowledging the presence of the management team (VC, DVC, Dean CST, Director CSIS), the Guest Speaker for the day, Prof. Ajanaku K.O. other Professors, scholars from within and outside as well as a panel of discussants.

The HOD Biological Sciences in the person of Prof. Oranusi S.U. appreciated the previous participants and that the presentations depict that we are all working. He thus acknowledged the previous participants and encouraged that the presenters should endeavor to make products from the researches to solve the problems of humanity. Thus, biotechnology is the requirement for solving problems of humanity and we must drive at proffering solutions to problems of humanity through this medium. He added that our work in this part of the world is not inferior. He thanked the VC and everyone.

Before the Guest Speaker of the day made his presentation, his citation was read by Dr. Bello O.A. after which Dr. A. Lawal observed all protocols and acknowledged the presence of the VC and the department of Biological Sciences while thanking the management of the University for sustaining the conference. He appreciated the organizers and feels at home with the department.

Dr. Lawal lectured on the sustainability of industrial biotechnology while highlighting the type of biotechnology, processes involved in the exploitation of microorganisms, tools of biotechnology, and roles of important microorganisms such as yeasts in the application of biotechnology. He noted scientists of old who had worked on the discovery of biotechnology that proffered benefits to food, health, and pharmaceutical industries. He spoke on the area of enzyme technology and its applications in various industries. Dr. Lawal also highlighted on the importance of sustainable development and patented products that stand as the intellectual property of the owner.

He talked at length about FIIRO that was established as an institute in 1956, their mission, vision, mandate, their research works, and products as well as their various national and international collaborations with other researchers, institutes, and entrepreneurs. At the end of his presentation, it was time for the discussants to speak to the presentation. The panel of discussants for the plenary session was Prof. K.O. Ajanaku and Dr. R. Uzeh.

Prof. Ajanaku K.O. appreciated the university’s management and guest-speaker (Dr. Lawal) for the excellent lecture delivery and his good works at FIIRO. He highlighted some points from Dr. Lawal’s presentation on the application of industrial biotechnology and the use of enzymes for industrial applications. He also emphasized the chemistry involved in wine production, GMOs, bioinformatics, metabolic engineering, and modeling. He concluded by stating that the potentials of biotechnology will be better enhanced through engineering and mentioned the various ways of harnessing industrial biotechnology.

The second discussant in the person of Dr. Uzeh R. lent a word to the lecture by highlighting the importance of different products of biotechnology that can be applied in the food, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries. She thus concluded by stating that the sustainability of biotechnology is the way forward for mankind.


A break of 5 minutes was observed after which the team broke up into 2 technical sessions as against the previous 3 sessions. The participants from within and outside presented their research works and findings from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. After the presentations, all participants were asked to rejoin the main zoom link for the closing ceremony.

The closing ceremony started with the HOD’s closing remarks. In his remarks, he appreciated all invited guests, participants, committees, and was thankful for the success of the conference. Thereafter he invited the Registrar for the VC’s remarks and to declare the conference closed. In his remarks, the Registrar in the person of Dr. O.P. Omidiora appreciated the efforts of the LOC, invited guests, and HOD of Biological Sciences while defining biotechnology based on biblical inference. He stated that Covenant University cannot be left behind in today’s development. He emphasized on the need for us to convert our research to products that will add value to researchers and showcase both the products and researchers to the world. He buttressed this point by recounting the management’s visit to the Department of Mechanical Engineering where potential products that will proffer solutions to the COVID 19 pandemic. He later delivered the VC’s goodwill message to the department and conference participants.

The HOD Biological Sciences acknowledged the presence of the Dean CST and welcomed his remarks. The Dean in the person of Prof. T.V. Omotosho appreciated all keynote speakers (Dr. Charles, Dr. Rufus, and Dr. Lawal) and the LOC while thanking God for the success of the conference. He congratulated the HOD, LOC Chair (Dr. Ayanda O.I.), and participants within and outside of Covenant University believing that the success of the conference will propel our nation forward. He congratulated all and CST for the success of the 9th IBCEW and talked about how the lockdown brought everyone closer through biotechnology. The Registrar thus declared the conference closed at 1:55 pm. The vote of thanks was delivered by Dr. Akinnola O.O and the closing prayer said by Dr. Eni A.O.


Prof. Solomon U. Oranusi                                                                  Ayanda O Isaac


HOD Biological Science                                                                     Conference Chair


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