This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS DJIBOUTI 001847
DEPT FOR EB - DMALAC; OES - HLEE; FDA - RLAKE; AND EPA - JANDERSON
DEPT PASS USAID - JLEWIS
DEPT PASS USDA/FAS/OA - BSIMMONS
USDA/APHIS/BRS - JTURNER
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: EAGR ECON ETRD SENV TBIO TSPL DJ SUBJECT: STATUS REQUEST BOR BIOTECHNOLOGY REGULATIONS - DJIBOUTI
REF: STATE 263456
1. INTRODUCTION: DJIBOUTI IMPORTS MOST OF ITS CONSUMER PRODUCTS, INCLUDING ALMOST ALL OF ITS FOOD CONSUMPTION. THE HOST NATION RETAINS CLOSE RELATIONS WITH FRANCE, WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR ABOUT TWO-THIRDS OF ITS IMPORTS. AGRICULTURE IS NOT DEVELOPED AND REPRESENTS LESS THAN ONE PERCENT OF THE COUNTRY'S GDP. DJIBOUTI PRODUCES LESS THAN TEN PERCENT OF ITS FRUIT AND VEGETABLE CONSUMPTION.
2. POST MET WITH THE MINISTRY OF TRADE AUTHORITIES IN CHARGE OF COMMERCIAL FOOD REGULATIONS, QUALITY CONTROL AND LABELING. THE MINISTRY OF TRADE CONFIRMED THAT THERE ARE NO LAWS OR REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE LABELING OF BIOTECH PRODUCTS. NO SPECIAL LABELING IS REQUIRED FOR BIOTECH PRODUCTS.
3. THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURAL INDICATED AS WELL THAT NO LAWS OR REGULATIONS ARE IN PLACE FOR BIOTECH CROPS. OFFICIALS AT THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURAL CLAIMED TO BE KNOWLEDGEABLE, AT LEAST IN THEORY, ABOUT BIOTECH CROPS. THEY INSIST LOCAL FARMERS ARE NOT READY FOR GMO SEEDS BECAUSE FARMING IN DJIBOUTI IS STILL AT A RUDIMENTARY STAGE AND BECAUSE OF COST. LOCAL OFFICIALS FEAR THAT LOCAL SEEDS WILL BE ADVERSELY AFFECTED IF BIOTECH CROP WERE INTRODUCED.
4. FOOD AID IS PROVIDED TO OVER TWENTY THOUSAND REFUGEES HOSTED BY DJIBOUTI. THESE REFUGEES COME FROM SOMALIA, ETHIOPIA, ERYTREA AND YEMEN. THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME (WFP), IN COORDINATION WITH THE MINISTRY OF INTERIOR, PROVIDES FOOD DONATIONS FOR CAMPS BUT DOES NOT BAN OR REGULATE BIOTECH FOOD AID. DJIBOUTIAN OFFICIALS DO NOT SEEM AWARE WHETHER OR NOT GMO FOOD AID IS BEING DONATED TO THE REFUGEES.
5. Comment: All concerned Djiboutian ministries confirmed that there are no existing laws or regulations restricting the use of biotech food or GMO products. However, Post notes that officials from the above- mentioned ministries are not comfortable with biotech food, and many stated personal opposition to them. They echo French and European concerns about the implications that genetically modified food might have on human health. They also worry that GMO seed might somehow contaminate the local varieties. Despite this general negativity, Post sees no signs the host government will enact laws or regulations on the subject matter in the near future.