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Cablegate: New Biotech Developments - France

VZCZCXRO1176
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #1448/01 1011129
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111129Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6410
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHMRE/AMCONSUL MARSEILLE 1649
RUEHSR/AMCONSUL STRASBOURG 0387
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2640
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 001448

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

BRUSSELS PASS USEU FOR AGMINCOUNSELOR
STATE FOR EB; EUR/ERA, EUR/WE, EUR/PPD, IIP AND
ECA EEB/TPP/ABT(SPIRNAK);
STATE PASS USTR FOR MURPHY;
USDA/OS/JOHANNS/TERPSTRA;
USDA/FAS FOR OA/YOST;
OCRA/CURTIS
STA/SIMMONS/JONES/HENNEY
FAA/YOUNG;
EU POSTS PASS TO AGRICULTURE AND ECON
GENEVA FOR USTR, ALSO AGRICULTURE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD EU FR
SUBJECT: NEW BIOTECH DEVELOPMENTS - FRANCE

REF: (A) 2006 PARIS 7639; (B) 2006 PARIS 7802;
(C) PARIS 515

PARIS 00001448 001.2 OF 003


1. Summary: Biotech issues continue to make
headlines in France. An anti-biotech lobby
reported on health risks associated with MON863
biotech corn, while the President and Director of
Greenpeace France were charged with an ?incentive
or direct provocation of GMO destruction? in a
lawsuit. For 2007, the Ministry of Agriculture
(MinAg) authorized 13 biotech products for open
field testing; published new regulations
transposing the EU Directive 2001/18 (relative to
biotech authorization), adopted biotech and non-
biotech coexistence measures and created a
requirement that biotech farmers register crop
locations to provide transparency in biotech
production. French farmers are expected to
increase biotech corn planting from 5,200
hectares in 2006 to 30,000 to 50,000 hectares
this year, despite activists? threats. End
summary.

Anti-Biotech Lobby Allege MON863 Health Risks

2. On March 13, the anti-biotech lobby CRII-GEN
held a press conference to present the findings
of a Greenpeace funded study which concluded that
MON863 was not safe for consumption due to
toxicity on kidneys and liver. CRIIGEN asked for
additional research from the European Food Safety
Agency (EFSA) on MON863, and an immediate ban of
GM corn MON863. According to ?EU Food Law
Weekly,? (March 23, 2007), EFSA was to have
discussed the study during its March 22-23
meeting, but did not invite its author to present
his results to the GMO panel.

3. The CRII-GEN study reinterpreted the
toxicological survey conducted by Monsanto on
MON863. The French authority for biotech
approval (Biomolecular Engineering Committee, or
?Commission du Genie Biomoleculaire? in French,
or CGB) reviewed the Monsanto data and approved
the product.

4. The CRII-GEN allegations received wide press
coverage in France. Le Figaro, a well-known
French daily newspaper, published an article on
CRII-GEN?s assertions on March 15, translated as
follows:

Begin informal translation: New Controversy
Over the Toxicity of a Transgenic Corn.

Gerard Pascal is 'exasperated' with the new
attack launched on Tuesday by two anti-biotech
organizations, Greenpeace and the CRII-GEN,
against Monsanto?s transgenic corn MON863,
suspected damaging liver and kidneys in rats.

Contacted by Le Figaro, this highly regarded
toxicologist, a member of the Biomolecular
Engineering Committee (note: in French
'Commission du Genie Biomoleculaire,' or CGB, is
the French competent authority for approving
biotech products) regrets finding himself
involuntarily at the origin of the concern. ' If I
had not said anything, in other words, if I had
not scrupulously done my job of expert, no-one
would have ever known and especially not those
who aim to manipulate this issue launching
another press campaign,' he bitterly divulged.

Thus, Gerard Pascal is the one who, as early as

PARIS 00001448 002.2 OF 003


October 2003, discovered some 'anomalies' in the
weight of the kidneys, the level of white blood
cells and the glycaemia of rats fed on the corn
in question. However, the counter-research
conducted by the CGB indicated one year later
that these differences are considered within the
natural variability range and are not related to
the consumption of this biotech product
authorized since then for human consumption in
Europe.

In an article published in a little-known
scientific journal, the biologist Gilles-Eric
Seralini, scientific director of CRII-GEN,
strikes again stating that 'MON863 is not a safe
product.' After obtaining the raw data of the
research, and implementing a new statistical
appraisal of this data, he suggests that the
liver-kidney anomalies are of a hormonal origin.
But he is careful not to prove anything?

'This is simply a way to hide the absence of
correlation between the ingested dose and the
biological effects induced. These results are
therefore not significant, says Gerard Pascal.
Gilles-Eric Seralini probably wants to reinvent
toxicology by himself while he is not a
toxicologist!?' End informal translation.

Greenpeace Demonstrates and is Charged by a Court

5. On March 14, the President and the Director
of Greenpeace France were charged for 'incentive
or direct provocation for committing a crime or
an offence, here the destruction of a biotech
field.' The complaints were filed last July by
two biotech corn producers whose biotech field
locations were published on the Greenpeace
website. Their crops were subsequently destroyed
by activists. The public prosecutor now has
three months to decide to prosecute the cases.

6. On March 15, Greenpeace unloaded several tons
of so-called biotech corn in front of the
headquarters of the conservative presidential
candidate Nicolas Sarkozy to highlight the fact
that he is the only one of three leading
presidential contenders who does not support a
moratorium on all biotech activities beyond
confined environments.

New French Biotech Regulation

7. On March 19, the MinAg authorized 13 biotech
open field trials (12 corn products and 1
tobacco) for 2007 and rejected one request for a
potato trial. There were fewer products
authorized this year but the authorizations came
earlier than in 2006, when 17 products were
approved in May. For more information on the
dossiers approved, see:
http://www.ogm.gouv.fr/experimentations/decis ions
/decisions.htm.

8. On March 20, the French Official Journal
(Federal Register equivalent) published the
decrees (2007-358 and 2007-359) transposing EU
Directive 2001/18 (EU framework on the release of
biotech products for both experimentation and
commercialization) into French law. France thus
avoids paying heavy penalties for failure to
transpose in a timely manner. The decrees are
supplemented by two 'arretes' (complementary
documents) relative to environmental
dissemination and commercialization of biotech

PARIS 00001448 003.2 OF 003


products as well as information gathering on
biotech crop cultivation.

9. Also on March 20, the MinAg created a public
register to identify the number of farms and
acreage of biotech plots present in each canton
(administrative group of cities and villages).
This list will be available at the GOF?s inter-
ministerial website on biotech at:
http://www.ogm.gouv.fr. Farmers were pleased
that the government retreated from a position
requiring more specific biotech crop location
information, which would have made them more
vulnerable to anti-GMO attacks.

10. The MinAg further published coexistence
recommendations for biotech crops, including 50-
meter buffer zones and obligatory notice to
neighboring farmers of biotech cultivation. The
Government will monitor farmer compliance, but
the recommendation on buffer zones cannot be
enforced without legislative approval.

EU Action Impacts French Biotech Bans

11. (SBU) Despite the WTO ruling that France's
national bans on biotech rapeseed were
inconsistent with the WTO, France subsequently
voted to renew its ban on these products through
April 18, 2007 (ref A). Interestingly, the EU
Commission and Member States recently voted to
withdraw approval for five biotech products,
including the two rapeseed products banned in
France. Consequently, France will be in
conformity with the WTO when its ban expires on
April 18. In addition, EU authorities decided to
authorize 0.9 percent adventitious presence of
these products for the next five years. This
decision means an increased tolerance in France
from zero to 0.9 percent of the two banned
rapeseed products, starting on April 18.

12. Comment: Despite interruptions orchestrated
by anti-biotech lobbies, the GOF continues its
actions regulating biotech research and
commercial production. The recent French decrees
published in the Official Journal bring France
into conformity with the EU legislation (ref B).
In addition, France's biotech rapeseed bans will
be irrelevant once these same products are no
longer approved at the EU level. While the
government's biotech crop registry provides
additional transparency for consumers, it does
not contain details about farmer's fields that
would make them vulnerable to attacks by anti-GMO
activists (ref C). Farmers now benefit by
coexistence measures in place before the planting
season and can hopefully use these new measures
to maximize potential this year for planting
30,000 to 50,000 hectares of biotech corn, up
from 5,200 hectares in 2006. End comment.

Stapleton

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