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The cable reveals the words of Craig Stapleton, the US ambassador to France, who was pushing the commercial interests of the biotech industry by attempting to force GMOs into France. In his own words (below), he expresses his frustration with the idea that France might pass environmental laws that would hamper the expansion of GMOs:
"Europe is moving backwards not forwards on this issue with France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the [European] Commission... Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voice."
12. (SBU) ACTION REQUESTED: In response to recent urgent requests by MARM State Secretary Josep Puxeu and Monsanto, post requests renewed USG support of Spain's science-based agricultural biotechnology position through high-level USG intervention in support of the EFSA findings. Post also requests USG support for a non-USG science fellow to meet with influential Spanish interlocutors on this issue and assistance with developing an agricultural biotechnology action plan for Spain. Post would also welcome any comments from other posts concerning the anti-GMO campaign.
However, even in Spain the technology was controversial and faced NGO opposition, albeit not as strong as in some other EU member states. Senator Thune asked what influence Spain could exercise in Brussels on this issue. Bonet noted it was very difficult to get a qualified majority for biotech approvals in the EU Environment Council so in the end the Commission was taking decisions in favor of biotechnology
Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology. He is author of two books: Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods.
Issues for the Agricultural Talks and WTO Trade Round:
by: Bernard P. Auxenfans
CEO of FOL Networks Ltd, UK (1)
27th IPC SEMINAR - June 27, 2001 - Sydney, Australia
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have been asked to focus my remarks on plant biotechnology and its expected impacts on agricultural trade. The issues surrounding the introduction of GMOs into international grain trading are having, and will continue to have a significant and negative impact on trade. On a broader note, the introduction of new agricultural technology will be one of the most serious bones of contention in the WTO agricultural negotiations over the next 3-5 years. For example, the loss of the European corn market has cost the US an estimated $200 million per year since 1998.
More tragically, for the developing countries there is now an unprecedented breakdown in the harmonization of procedures across major agricultural countries to develop, assess, approve and market new technologies used in agriculture, such as plant biotechnology. Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Director of the International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI), an independent food research center of the CGIAR group, recently stated that, “Developing countries do not understand why the Europeans authorize the use of biotechnology in human medicine and refuse them in agriculture. We handicap the poorer countries and prevent them from using biotechnology techniques.” In Andersen’s opinion, neither industry nor Greenpeace should be the ones dictating to the developing countries what they have to do in this domain.
In April, the headline of the daily Belgium newspaper “Le Soir” read: “GMO’s: Belgium Wants a Debate.” Jaak Gabriels, Belgian Minister of Agriculture - who will preside over the EU’s Council of Agriculture Ministers, starting on July 1 - has thrown a line to the US. In a conversation with his American counterpart Ann Veneman (herself a former IPC member until her nomination early this year), Minister Gabriels said: “The Europeans are on the point of re-opening discussions on the role of biotechnology in agriculture.” The informal meeting of the fifteen EU Member States at Alden Biesen in Limburg, Belgium scheduled for September 15-17, will largely be dedicated to plant biotechnology, with the prospect of easing restrictions on planting GMO crops in the European Union. No doubt that Minister Gabriels is as sincere as he is determined, and it is a move in the right direction—however don’t hold your breath.
One needs only to look at the growing challenges around the world, such as escalating, complicated and more costly pesticide regulations, heterogeneous plant variety legislation for seeds, differing national organic food production schemes, more recently the controversy across the EU on the animal vaccinations in light of the recent foot and mouth disease epidemic and the overall lack of harmonization in policy across the globe. Even more disheartening and trade-distorting now are the “principles” of “traceability, labeling, precaution and liability,” being promoted by the European Union in global forums, such as the Codex Alimentarius.
In spite of the Codex’s international agreements, the manipulation of the regulatory process to discriminate against new technologies in agriculture by international environmental NGOs, or national interests (mostly in the European Union) has allowed a surge of unfortunate regulatory and politically-motivated scandals. Scandals that have become a growing obstacle to free and fair trade in agricultural products.
First, I will review the status of some key agricultural technologies being developed worldwide, and look at their lower level of acceptance in the EU. Second, I will reflect on the ideological and political background, which has led to the present anti- technology environment, especially in European agriculture. Then, I will attempt to outline the present irrational plant biotech gridlock, resulting from the confused European legislation. In conclusion, I will propose a few possible exit routes out of this puzzle. I intend to emphasize that all of them must be handled with courage and a vision for a long- term future.....
5. The fast adoption by farmers -- outside of the EU -- of new varieties of genetically improved plants launched over five years ago in the US, is unequivocally confirmed by the 11% global growth rate of planted GMO crops in 2000, versus the 1999 season. This growth has occurred in spite of Greenpeace and French activist Jose Bové’s well-publicized statements that: “GM crop areas [are] in decline in 2000.” Overall, 17% of the total world’s arable crop area (293 millions hectares) is planted to transgenic crops: 34% of the soybean, 16% of the cotton, 11% of the rapeseed and 7% of the maize crops worldwide. The number of countries producing and/or importing biotech crops now reached 13, while 29 countries are conducting biotech field trials. It has been projected that in 2001, new transgenic varieties of maize, soybean, rapeseed and cotton will be planted on 55 millions hectares, another 11% growth from 2000, mostly in the US, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Mexico, Canada and China.
Paradoxically, all five of these essential agricultural technologies are fully compatible and in line with the sustainable agriculture criteria, invoked by the environmental NGO’s and European consumer associations. In this context, it is crucial to understand some of the emotional and political background, which has created such an anti-technology environment in European agriculture.
Why doesn’t Europe promote these new agricultural technologies?
1. Since the 1980’s, some European media has introduced and convinced a large portion of the public that its agriculture is “self-serving.” This is an introverted vision of agriculture. The idea can be summed up as “we-know-it-better-than-you-do,” a not-too- humble syndrome, claiming bluntly that: “High-productivity farming methods are basically bad for the environment and mankind.” At the same time, they have disregarded the needs of importing countries, relying on agricultural exports for their basic food needs; including Egypt and other African countries, as well as many other countries around the world.
If not counterbalanced soon by reason, this self-centered approach will continue to have a dangerous impact on global grain production and trade, but in reality, concealing agricultural trade barriers behind concerns for high safety or other standards.
2. The French romantic Rousseau-iste view of the “rural concept” -- while legitimate when expressed at a rational level -- is successfully being hyped. It is forcefully proposed by environmental and consumer NGO’s as an alternative to the so-called “productivist agriculture” achievements, which are constantly being targeted as diabolical, obsolete and un-sustainable.
3. Thus, the age-old “nourishing role” of agriculture is being thrown away and downgraded by many opponents of modern agricultural practices, unfortunately without much resolute reaction to defend it from the now politically weak European agricultural sector. This is a clear case of ‘intellectuel terrorism.’
4. In at least three major European countries – Germany, Italy and the Netherlands – the political clout of left-wing green parties has strengthened their position. They are unseating or replacing traditional agriculture ministers. Now the hard-core greens themselves represent agriculture at ministerial, government and EU levels, often arbitrating key-decisions between centre-left and centre-right political parties, usually to the lowest common agricultural denominator level. The pressures to elevate NGO’s regulatory status to be equivalent to national regulatory bodies need to be opposed, while the democratic representation of the people can only lie within the elected national government.
Strong sentiments against the adequacy of current food safety regulations has arisen in the European public. The reasons for this are widely different from one another, and from nation to nation. For example,
• The concept of genetic change is laden with reminiscences of the second world war in Germany,
• In France, there is the tragic memory of AIDS-contaminated transfusion blood, which was severely mishandled by French politicians,
• The BSE epidemic and its aftermath in the UK,
• In Belgium, the adulterated Coca-Cola drinks and the dioxin-contaminated chicken incidents,
• Across Europe, the unexpectedly severe floods in cities this year, often blamed on perceived bureaucratic mismanagement of rivers and dams in the countryside,
• The outbreak of foot and mouth disease across Europe, and
• The poor handling of the StarLink corn launch in the US, approved as animal feed,
but not approved for human consumption.
Each of these incidents have been swollen out of proportion and unjustly manipulated and linked by environmental and consumer NGO’s to provoke irrational fears toward agriculture in general, and sometimes in particular, to plant biotechnology. The European green political parties are all playing an electorally-rewarding, vote-catching political game, often with the support of the popular media, which is always ready to boost stories with a high emotional content.
5. Grain prices supports and income protection for European farmers have often allowed them to get away with NOT immediately adopting new technologies to lower costs, reduce pesticide use, adopt conservation tillage techniques, etc... As CAP reform continues and is transformed in the way EU Agriculture Commissioner Fischler has been talking about, European farmers will have to respond to world market prices. They will want to embrace these sustainable agricultural technologies, which lower their costs of production and are more considerate to the environment and to the country-side.
6. The developing countries are being somewhat “colonialized” again by being denied access to technology that could help them develop. This appalling manipulation was evident in Seattle from two assertive, opposing fronts. On one hand, the EU environmental NGO’s -- Greenpeace and others – were dictating to the LDCs how they should farm their countries. On the other hand, the US labor unions did not want any competition for its US farmers.
The most severe impact of these European anti-agriculture policies by the NGO’s - including opposition to the reasoned, optimized, integrated use of fertilizers, agrochemicals and new biotech crops - is now being felt in developing countries, such as sub-Saharan Africa, India, Egypt and those countries which need these technologies most in order to produce food in a more economic and sustainable way. A few more countries like New Zealand, Thailand and Brazil are now hesitant or slow-walking commercial planting of biotech crops, under heavy pressuring tactics from environmental NGO groups and the retaliatory threat of funding reduction by some powerful developed countries. What has created the present irrational plant biotech regulatory gridlock and the crisis of confidence between the EU and the US?
1. The regulatory approach between the US and Europe differs considerably. In the US, the agencies that existed to monitor the safety of agricultural products on a scientific basis took on a similar role for biotechnology products. Reviews are done by existing regulatory agencies (USDA, EPA, FDA) and are conducted on a product-by-product basis under a set of published, coherent, scientific guidelines. In the US -- even though it is becoming clear that consumers are asking more and more questions -- government and industry are following the same line. “[American] consumers put their trust in government- controlled organizations,” says Phyllis Johnson, Director of the Agriculture Research Center (ARC), the biggest agricultural center in the world, located some hundred of kilometers north of Washington D.C.
2. Historically, the European Directorate for Environment was assigned the new task of regulating the contained use and deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified micro and macro-organisms, later abbreviated to GMOs.
The EU legislators introduced the terminology GMO, not industry, as it is often believed and reported. It is not only imprecise, but also highly damaging to the perception of biotechnology. Some environmentalists have even equated the perceived potential dangers of biotechnology with that of a nuclear apocalypse !
As was to be expected, the resulting European 90/220 Dissemination Directive, in its original first drafts, focused on the presumed dangers of invisible and widely disseminating micro-organisms. Subsequently, this 90/220 Directive was also applied to cultivated plants, which in contrast, are macro-organisms, visible, static, under constant supervision and remedial actions by farmers, and which as food plants are by definition fit for human consumption. In adopting a horizontal approach, the safety assessments for plants were not well matched to the potential risks.
The new 2001/18 Directive will soon replace the 90/220 Directive. The new directive is currently being blocked by a de-facto regulatory moratorium imposed by a blocking majority of only SIX countries: France, Austria, Greece, Italy, Denmark and Luxembourg. They are requesting more extensive rules on labeling and traceability. Some have indicated that it may take as long as four more years to put in place the traceability regulations, which the EU is currently developing. This would mean another four-year delay in commercial crop approvals and import restrictions of these new genetically improved grain varieties, which have been approved abroad, but not in the EU, yet.
3. Focused on management of the CAP, the EU Directorate for Agriculture appeared to have little interest in plant biotechnology. It is a pity to note that during most of the past ten years, the EU Directorate for Agriculture has simply disengaged itself from the promotion of advanced agricultural technologies.
The Agricultural Directorate has preferred to focus its considerable resources solely on production, commercialization and external trade issues, thus leaving room for others to fill the resulting olitical and regulatory vacuum. Meanwhile, the Agricultural Directorate has continued to fine-tune the plant variety legislation. However, it did NOT encompass plant biotechnology applications in due time. This is unfortunate, as this was the obvious legal framework in which to develop specific plant biotech regulations.
4. Today there are no universal standards for acceptable GMO content in food products, due to serious philosophical differences between the US and the EU governments, which hold the key to any regulation. As in the beef hormone situation, GMO labeling risks provoking serious trade disruptions when the European regulations/guidelines start to be implemented, since they would act as non-tariff barriers to trade. Illegitimate regulations will drag countries into the little-tested area of WTO mechanisms for resolving disputes.
5. The un-scientific so-called “precautionary principle” is unfortunately being successfully and constantly misused as justification to immobilize science and its applications, as well as to confuse the public. While no one contests the need for great precaution in regulating new products or processes, its application should not go beyond its own spirit. The so-called principle, which is in fact a concept rather than a principle, is indeed a wonderful tool to avoid delicate political decision.
Overall, European agriculture is facing the most fundamental challenge to its very existence since World War II. Several macro-factors are at work, stemming from different rationales, but adding up to a very difficult position for European farmers.
At a general level, the CAP policies are being heavily criticized by a combination of European political gaming and by environmentalists opposed to modern agricultural practices. Certainly, the time is ripe to jump on the present agricultural financial crisis and make swiping changes and adaptations to agriculture and regulatory structures across Europe. However this last month, the present French government has again strongly rejected this possibility !
The so-called agricultural biotechnology -- or more precisely, the plant varieties ameliorated by genetic engineering -- has suffered in Europe from an extraordinary conjunction of some of these negative influences, unrelated events and broad misconceptions.
While the complex and chaotic EU regulatory process is continuing its slow pace of development, massive external events (indicated above) can also contribute to escalating negative attitudes towards plant biotech products.
With this most negative set of combinations, improved cultivated plants have been taken hostage under the defamatory branding as “GMOs,” and as such, they have unfortunately become icons of international manifestations.
In a nutshell, they are part and parcel of a serious CRISIS of CONFIDENCE between the farmers and the rest of European society, which is largely due to a lack of political courage and coherent agricultural policies.
In conclusion, how can we return to reality?
The future of effective use of new agriculture technologies in Europe is uncertain. However, some tentative ways to break the current deadlock - most prominently the de- facto moratorium in the EU on the commercial planting of genetically improved plants - will negatively impact the WTO’s agricultural trade negotiations and seriously risk dividing the world into three regional agricultural trade zones: the EU, the Americas and the rest of the world.
Ultimately, one is afraid that European farmers will be left with archaic technology, and will be even less able to compete in world markets if the EU’s anti-technology attitude wins the day.
Let’s consider some possible remedial actions:
[I leave out about 10 pages!]
Abuses of the precaution concept to justify political positions, or to cloak distorting import restriction policies, should equally be avoided and expressively exposed. The European Commission’s recent white paper was helpful in clarifying the limits to be set on the use of the so-called precautionary principle.”
In summary, an acceptable and balanced future for global agriculture and harmonious trade is highly dependent on a common global set of policies, rules and regulations covering, among others:
* clear policies on the role of technology in agriculture,
* globally harmonized, science-based safety assessments,
* practical threshold levels for unavoidable traces of GM elements,
* science-based labeling schemes, coupled with identity preserved supplies to
facilitate consumer choice,
* public information disclosure and public educational schemes,
* intellectual property rights protection,
* technology transfer guidelines, and,
* coordination of genomics programs.
All of the above possible action courses are feasible, but they will need basic common sense, clear actions, and political courage – quite a rare currency these days.
To continue endorsing the current stalemate in the development and introduction of any new agricultural technology in Europe - plant biotechnology developments being only one of many, although the most visible to the large public today -- would, in my mind, be fatally shortsighted and intellectually dishonest.
If the current situation remains, the trade in seed, raw agricultural products and processed foods across regions will probably become even more distorted than before, with international trade conflicts erupting one after another, brought on by politically-motivated, self-interest groups on the basis of arbitrary emotions and dogmatism, instead of being science-based and socially-responsible actions.
These are the serious challenges that agriculture and food trade are facing today. Thank you.
(1) After 31 years with Monsanto, Mr. Auxenfans, retired from the Monsanto Corporation at the end of 1999 as the former Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Agricultural Division, and its Chairman for the Europe-Africa operations. He is a member of the Board of Directors at both the IPC and the IAMA.
In 2000, he became the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FOL Networks Ltd, based in the UK - the leading European e-business solutions software company, specialized in Agriculture - partly financed by ICG from the USA and the Top Technology funds in the UK.
Reviews are done by existing regulatory agencies (USDA, EPA, FDA) and are conducted on a product-by-product basis under a set of published, coherent, scientific guidelines.
Some environmentalists have even equated the perceived potential dangers of biotechnology with that of a nuclear apocalypse !
Originally posted by kwakakev
The seeds they sell are sterile and only good for one season. By dominating the market place previous seed banks of sustainable seeds are disappearing. No more seeds, no more food, no more people, that is just one apocalypse scenario as GMO continues into the unknown.
Originally posted by boondock-saint
I also think this thread
may be related to this thread
from Sept. 2010
This is the vid they would not let me upload. I tried some tricks suggested and hacked my way in the back door ..thanks everyone for your support!!!!....California Citrus Groves to Become GMO? ucanr.org...
Target Retaliation - example 1 - Wipe out a crop and Replace with GMO due to pest infestation. Wikileaks broke the story our french ambassador was pushing GMO's in europe with a mafia like tone calling for target retaliation.....hmmmm what might that look like since now the biggest GMO company holds the largest share in a private army - Blackwater.....
--information you're not going to hear on mainstream news: like we didn't hear about wikileaks and the French Ambassador was threatening the Italians and the French with target retaliation if they didn't accept GMO's.
--what does retaliation mean? We know that Monsanto also employs Blackwater, a private company of mercenaries. OK, so what are they going to do with them?
--there's and asian bug and it creates this disease called HLB. Kills citrus trees. ...they've just discovered it in ventura. Talking about quarantining the whole area, huge crop. Now its being said the best bet is GMO trees, that are disease resistant.
--Someone saying, “I think Americans will accept GMO orange juice because right now they're going to Taco Bell and buying genetically made food so whats the difference?
How Do You Guys Feel About That?
All I know is these guys are already guilty of Racketeering. And sending out false information and tried to persuade not only everyone in our country by placing high employees such as michael taylor who obama made food tzar who deemed it unecessary to lable GMOs, even though it was said by someone if GMO's were labled people will not buy them. So the reason they'r e NOT lableled is so people wouldn't know. Like maybe you didn't know when you're taking your kids to Taco Bell its a given fact, they're Trans Genetic Monster Food, their Frankenfood.
Thats what it is, thats what Calvin Arnold just said from the US DA, well I for one do not want GMO orange juice, nor do I think most Americans or the rest of the world from the fight they're putting up, and the research they're doing is quite different than the research that we're getting out of the United States.....