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Cablegate: Nigeria: Status of Biotechnology Regulations

Published: Tue 21 Oct 2003 02:36 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS LAGOS 002163
SIPDIS
STATE FOR EB/DMALAC AND OES/HLEE
USDA FOR FAS/OA/BSIMMONS AND APHIS/BRS/JTURNER
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR JLEWIS
STATE PASS TO FDA FOR RLAKE
EPA FOR JANDERSEN
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON ETRD SENV TBIO TSPL NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: STATUS OF BIOTECHNOLOGY REGULATIONS
REF: STATE 263456
1. (U) Nigeria has no specific law governing the
approval, production, importation, and labeling of
products of agricultural biotechnology. Nigeria's
Draft Biosafety Guidelines state proposed procedures to
follow to import or test GMO in the country.
2. (U) In February 2002 the Nigerian Federal Executive
Council, comprising the president and the federal
government ministers, approved the Draft Biosafety
Guidelines. They have yet to be submitted to the
National Assembly for enactment. We have learned that
the guidelines portray biotech products as generally
safe for animal and human consumption. The guidelines
reportedly also require mandatory labeling of all
biotech food products to protect "consumers' right to
know".
3. (U) Comment: Nigeria's Director General (DG) of the
National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and
Control (NAFDAC) recently told the AgAttache that
"after attending a biotech conference in Europe, she
agrees with a mandatory labeling for biotech food
products". NAFDAC has a representative on the National
Biosafety Committee. AgAttache countered with a brief
explanation of the U.S. position on biotechnology and
gave the DG a recent article highlighting its positive
attributes. It is not clear to us if she will
reconsider her position. (NAFDAC is the GON's
regulatory agency for the registration, advertisement,
and internal distribution of food imports.)
4. (U) We were also told that the Federal Ministry of
Environment may become the regulatory agency for
biosafety guidelines, if approved. (Comment: We
understand the Ministry is not enthusiastic about
biotechnology. We would thus be rather surprised were
it to become its regulator; moreover, various
parliamentary and executive government committees, as
well as private sector entities, have diverging
interests in the matter. The GON's intergovernmental
and interagency mechanism for handling biotech issues,
the National Biosafety Committee, has 18 members, for
example. We therefore think NAFDAC will ultimately be
empowered to regulate the biotech trade. End comment.)
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