Cablegate: Tv Coop Program Stirs Up Support for Agr0-

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

010551Z Nov 04





E.O. 12958: N/A

REFTEL: (A) STATE 326182, (B) ABUJA 000060

1. Summary: USG-sponsored TV Coop program on agricultural
biotechnology has elicited positive reactions from
Nigeria's scientific community and key policy makers, and
has further strengthened a progressive policy drive to use
U.S. approaches and technologies to revive Nigeria's ailing
agriculture as a viable alternative to the country's
reliance on oil revenues. "These documentaries contain
very important information needed for effective execution
of key aspects of our mandate," the National Biotechnology
Development Agency" (NABDA) said in a letter to the
National Television Authority (NTA), which produced and
aired the 55-minute documentary twice in July and
September, 2004. Since airing the program on its network,
watched by over 60 million viewers, NTA's production team
leader, Ayo Adewuyi, has been invited twice to high-level
discussion forums on Food Value Study conducted by Market
Trends Research International and the House Committee on
Agriculture to further explore issues raised in the TV Coop
documentary. NTA's crew had high praise for Julie James,
the program's Project Production Officer, and the American
and African scientists interviewed in the program. End

2. Date: March 13-27, 2004
Fiscal Year: FY2004
Quarter: 2

3. Description of activity: In consultation with USAID and
PAS in Abuja, State facilitated the NTA team's tour of the
United States March 13-27, 2004, for the production of a TV
Coop program on biotechnology to promote understanding of
the USAID-funded Nigeria Agricultural Biotechnology
Project, in partnership with the International Institute of
Tropical Agriculture, National Biotechnology Development
Agency, and leading Nigerian research institutes and
universities. The program was aimed at creating better
understanding of agricultural biotechnology within the
media, scientific policymakers and the Nigerian
agricultural community. The 55-minute documentary was
completed and premiered on the NTA National Network channel
on Sunday, July 18, 2004. The program was also available
on South Africa-based DSTV (W/Africa spot satellite
bouquet). State provided a $10,862.00 grant for the co-op

4. Justification and objective: The U.S. mission's effort
on biotechnology was aimed at promoting positive
impressions and acceptance of biotechnology by the Nigerian
public, policy makers and scientists. What public
information regarding bio-engineered products, or referred
to in the media as genetically modified organisms, GMOs, is
available in Nigeria has been reported primarily through
the optic of the U.S.-European debate over food safety and
labeling requirements. The issues of safety of
bioengineered products for human consumption as well as
their possible threat to local environmental diversity are
issues of great concern within Nigeria, and ones that could
easily retard acceptance of biotechnology by Nigerian
farmers. Nigerian journalists who have participated in
mission programs on biotechnology fear that anti-Western
elements may latch onto biotechnology much the same as they
have the controversy surrounding polio, and unnecessarily
raise people's fears about Western influence and motives.
Nigerian audiences, based on their comparatively lower
educational levels than in the U.S., are less conversant in
scientific matters in general, let alone biotechnology. A
sound public information approach before bioengineer
products are introduced or tested in Nigeria is imperative
to stave off anti- biotechnology opinion.

5. MPP umbrella themes: Economics and Trade.

6. Result/impact: Excellent and supportive. The coop
program addressed the regulatory framework that exists in
the United States to support public confidence in
biotechnology acceptance. The program's impact in support
of the USAID-funded Nigerian Agriculture Biotechnology
Project has energized the Nigerian scientific community,
and won support from the political leadership for an
aggressive policy drive and public acknowledgement of
biotechnology benefits. Nigeria's Minister of State for
Agriculture, Bamidele Dada, re-echoed support for
agricultural biotechnology on October 19, 2004. He
announced that, "Nigeria and other African countries will
incorporate modern biotechnology as part of the overall
strategy to increase food production and tackle the current
food crisis." Chief Dada, a former Assistant Director-
General of FAO, has become a key supporter of
biotechnology, and led the GON delegation to the
Ministerial on Science and Technology hosted jointly by
USDA, State and USAID in Burkina Faso earlier this year.
His participation, along with the Chairman of the House
Science and Technology Committee and Director-General of
the National Biotechnology Development Agency, and his
vocal support for biotechnology, had a significant
influence on other African leaders at the forum.

7. Non-USG sources of support: The Nigerian Television
Authority (NTA) paid for the International air tickets for
its three-member crew, post-production costs and broadcast
air time for the 55-minute documentary.

8. Quality of agency support: Excellent. Once again,
PA/OBS/BS Project Production Officer, Julie James, received
high praise for her professional guidance to the NTA.



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