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Cablegate: Agbiotech Outreach Proposal for Nigeria

VZCZCXRO5673
PP RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHUJA #0193/01 0301539
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301539Z JAN 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1959
INFO RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 8643
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000193

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

EEB/TPP/ABT for John Finn and Gary Clements

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR TBIO ETRD EAGR SENV PGOV NI

SUBJECT: AGBIOTECH OUTREACH PROPOSAL FOR NIGERIA

Ref: 2007 State 160639

1. Summary. The Government of Nigeria (GON) has signed the
Convention of Biosafety, participated in the Cartagena Protocol and
has begun the legal framework for biotechnology legislation.
FAS/Lagos has proposed an orientation program in the United States
for GON regulators and lawmakers through the Cochrane Fellowship
Program (CFP). The CFP only covers expenses within the United
States. Post requests funding of $19,200 to cover international
travel. End Summary.
.
Background
----------
.
2. Overall, the GON appears to be supportive of biotechnology. In
1992, Nigeria signed the Convention on Biosafety and ratified in
1994. Nigeria was also an active participant in the negotiations
that led to the adoption of the Cartagena Protocol, an international
agreement on biosafety. In several public pronouncements, the
Government of Nigeria has continued to express support for
biotechnology. Despite this receptiveness, very little actual
progress has been made in providing the enabling regulatory
environment for the development of biotechnology in Nigeria.

3. In 2007, the Nigerian Biosafety Committee submitted a draft
biosafety bill to the Minister of Environment. This action signals
the beginning of a long process towards providing a legal framework
for biotechnology in Nigeria. The next step is the Federal
Executive Council, comprising the President and Ministers, who will
consider the draft bill. If approved, the bill will be sent to the
National Assembly (Congress) for public hearing and passage into
law. At the National Assembly, the bill is expected to be referred
to the Agriculture Committee for in-depth debate and consideration.

.
Proposal
--------
.
4. FAS/Lagos through the Cochran Fellowship Program has proposed an
orientation program in the United States for select key lawmakers
and regulators. The orientation program will highlight how products
derived from agricultural biotechnology are considered in the U.S.
food safety regulatory system. The proposed program is targeted for
individuals and institutions that will play vital roles in the
passage of the biosafety bill into law and its implementation. FAS
has finalized a priority list of potential candidates by sector from
the following government bodies: 1) Two or more members of the
Agriculture Committee of the National Assembly who during
consideration of the bill will be required to do a detailed study
and make recommendations to the General Assembly. 2) The Director
General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and
Control, which is the statutory regulatory authority of the GON in
the Ministry of Health. 3) The Director General of the National
Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA), the leading biotechnology
agency of the GON in the Ministry of Science and Technology. 4) A
member of the Presidential staff. Nigerian policy-makers lack
accurate information about the benefits of agricultural
biotechnology and would benefit from this orientation to bolster
their knowledge.

5. FAS/Lagos is very interested in collaborating with USAID Abuja
and the Economic Section of the U.S. Embassy in supporting this
vital orientation program. USAID through the Restructured Economy
for Openness, Reform Macroeconomic Stability (REFORMS) Project will
provide technical and financial support to the National Biosafety
Committee to get factual information into the public domain about
the benefits of modern biotechnology, and in underwriting and
providing content for a public information campaign on the merits a
bio-safety/biotechnology regulatory framework.

6. Generally, the Cochran Fellowship program does not provide
funding for international airline tickets. Hotel, per diem and
domestic travel inside the United States are normally paid for by
CFP. Post requests State funding of $19,200 to cover international
travel. Post strongly feels that the orientation program will meet a
number of U.S. policy objectives. Nigeria is a key country that the
USG is targeting for active engagement with the medium term goal of
establishing models for agbiotech trade and development. As part of
their mission statement the NABDA has as one of it major aims food
security, the creation of jobs and wealth, and sustainable
environments. These are closely aligned with USG objectives such as
the environment gains that can be achieved through decreased use of
insecticides, reduced soil erosion, and stress the potential for
improved nutrition and disease prevention.

7. Post sees Nigeria as one of the developing countries on the
forefront of biotechnology which would benefit from the Cochrane
Fellowship Program and supports Department funding for international

ABUJA 00000193 002 OF 002


travel to the United States.

SANDERS

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