Cablegate: "Le Grenelle de L'environnement"
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #3967/01 2641221
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211221Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0340
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHMRE/AMCONSUL MARSEILLE 1908
RUEHSR/AMCONSUL STRASBOURG 0486
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2737
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 003967
BRUSSELS PASS USEU FOR AGMINCOUNSELOR
STATE FOR OES; EUR/ERA AND EB(SPIRNAK);
STATE PASS USTR FOR MURPHY;
USDA/FAS FOR OA/YOST;
EU POSTS PASS TO AGRICULTURE AND ECON
GENEVA FOR USTR, ALSO AGRICULTURE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ELAB SENV ETRD EU FR
SUBJECT: "LE GRENELLE DE L'ENVIRONNEMENT"
INTERNAL FRENCH DISCUSSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES:
REF: 2006 PARIS 2439
PARIS 00003967 001.2 OF 002
1. (SBU) Summary: The Sarkozy administration has organized "The
Grenelle for the Environment" to develop an environmental compact
with the French people. The Grenelle brings together a range of
stakeholders impacted by Sarkozy's projected "greening" of all
social and economic policy areas. The "environmental summit"
brings together government and civic leaders to reconcile views on
environmental issues and propose concrete measures on which to base
French policy. Stakeholders in French agriculture hope the
discussions will result in movement on the biotech front, including
new legislation on biotech coexistence. End Summary.
2. Under the auspices of France's new "super" Ministry of
Environment, Sustainable Development and Regional Planning,
consultations are underway on six environmental issues. The first
phase consists of dialogue within 40 member working groups made up
of policy makers, NGOs, employee and employer organizations, local
authorities, and experts. The consultation process allows diverse
interests to express their viewpoints and affords the government an
opportunity to respond to the views of a number of constituencies.
Working groups have been formed around the following: climate
change and energy, biodiversity, environment and health, sustainable
production and consumption, institutions and governance,
competitiveness and employment. A special internal group has been
formed to consider biotechnology. Working group meetings began in
July and will conclude in late September. These will be followed by
additional meetings and public internet consultations in October.
This process should result in 15-20 propositions from which the
government can draw to institute action plans by late October.
Agriculture Issues Discussed
3. Tensions regarding environmental approaches to agriculture,
including biotechnology, pesticide use and sustainable agriculture
have been rising since President Sarkozy's election in May.
Anti-biotech activists have pushed the new government for more
support in agricultural matters, including calling for a moratorium
on commercial biotech production, estimated at 21,000 ha in 2007
(all of which is Mon810), even though this production conforms to
existing French laws. In addition to biotech, substantively
challenging issues of long-standing sensitivity in France include
pesticide use, biofuel production and consumption, and biodiversity.
Civil society and agricultural sectors often disagree on the best
methods to address these problems. According to the French Chambers
of Agriculture (APCA), the least contentious issues for agriculture
are organics, rural versus urban expansion, and quality
certification of French food products.
Agricultural Biotechnology Issues at Stake
4. A major topic for the biotech working group is coexistence
standards for biotech and non-biotech crops. We expect it to make
recommendations concerning legislation detailing requirements for
biotech crops, including planting measures, financial responsibility
for biotech contamination, a regulatory monitoring system and a more
transparent process for French biotech approvals. France is
required to transpose the EU Directive 2001/18, (which involves
Member State competent authorities in the first step and an
EU-centralized authorization process as a second step on biotech or
face fines. This type of legislation withered last year from lack
of political support (reftel) as the Presidential elections
approached but new President Sarkozy has signaled that he expects to
have the Grenelle process result in coexistence legislation which,
some analysts say, should become law before France assumes the EU
Presidency in July 2008.
5. Following a post-election meeting with environmental groups,
Sarkozy agreed to refrain from any official acts affecting the
PARIS 00003967 002.2 OF 002
environment before the results of the Grenelle consultations. This
decision has been reflected in France's two abstentions at the EU on
new biotech approvals since the election in May.
6. (SBU) Comment: The preparatory meetings for the "Grenelle de
l'Environnement" have already resulted in enhanced dialogue among
stakeholders who rarely talk to each other. The Sarkozy
administration hopes the process, which will culminate in a
highly-publicized "summit meeting" later this fall, will galvanize
public opinion to demand the incorporation of high environmental
standards across the range of social and economic polices. A
biotech bill following the Grenelle consultations could provide a
positive signal for farmers to plant crops. However, biotech
supporters remain wary that the GOF's efforts to appease the
environmental lobby may result in a weak biotech bill whose
provisions could make biotech cultivation commercially unviable.