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Cablegate: Fy08 Biotechnology Outreach Strategy and Department

VZCZCXYZ0006
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLM #0108/01 0291129
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291129Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7614
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1802

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000108

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

EEB/TPP/ABT/BTT FOR JOHN FINN AND GARY CLEMENTS
NEW DELHI FOR FAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON ETRD TBIO KPAO
SUBJECT: FY08 BIOTECHNOLOGY OUTREACH STRATEGY AND DEPARTMENT
RESOURCES

REF: STATE 160639

1. Post appreciates the opportunity to request funding for
biotechnology outreach programs in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is at a
turning point with respect to biotechnology. The country has
regulations to label, regulate and control the import of Genetically
Modified (GM) foods, as well as to regulate the utilization of
biotechnology in domestic agriculture. Post remains concerned that
Sri Lanka is (gradually) implementing regulations that require
mandatory labeling of GM food imports. (Note: These regulations
are part of the National Biosafety Framework, which was formulated
in keeping with the articles of the Cartegena protocol, to which Sri
Lanka is a signatory.) These regulations are likely to have adverse
long-term effects for U.S. food exports to Sri Lanka. Conversely,
local agricultural scientists, including Department of Agriculture
officials, have identified biotechnology as a tool to improve the
domestic agriculture sector in terms of increasing productivity and
farmer incomes, reducing insecticide usage, increasing yields and
contributing to overall food security objectives of the country.

2. Post proposes the following outreach activity:

A. Request: Post requests a biotechnology expert to both
highlight the safety of agri-biotech products and to emphasize the
significant potential of technology. Specifically, post recommends
that a visiting expert would:

- Engage local biotechnology regulators and highlight the safety of
agri-biotech products as demonstrated by the WTO decision against
the EU, as well as earlier determinations on the technology by the
World Health Organization (WHO). S/he would also stress the need
for transparent science-based regulations that do not hinder trade.


- With scientists and officials of the Department of Agriculture and
local universities, emphasize the immense potential the technology
offers to increase food security, alleviate poverty, and protect the
environment.

B. Specific Details (per reftel)

Cost of the proposed program:
-----------------------------

The cost of the program will be approximately $10,000, inclusive of
airfare, lodging, internal travel, hall hire, per diem and
incidentals. There may be opportunities to work jointly with
AmEmbassy New Delhi (STATE or FAS) to minimize the cost of this
program. For example, a biotech expert already traveling to India
could add Sri Lanka to his/her travel plan, thereby significantly
reducing air cost.

Target audience:
-----------------
-Government officials responsible for GM food regulations
-Agriculture scientists and officials responsible for the
development of the domestic agriculture industry
-Agriculture university professors, students, and administrators
-National Science Foundation
-NGO's
-Consumers-Media

Specific ag-biotech issues to be addressd:
-------------------------------------------
- Regulation for labeling and control of GM food. This regulation
has been published and is beinggradually implemented.
- Biotech in domestic agriulture. Biotech is identified as an
important tol to develop local agriculture. However, there ae no
commercial biotech crops in production. Wewould like to emphasize
how the technology can mve from trials and tests to commercial
production

How the project would help meet USG policy objctives:
--------------------------------------------- ---------

- The expert would be an important resource to convey the USG
position on the regulation of GM products. USDA previously provided
comments to the government concerning its policy. This would be a
good opportunity to engage policy makers and regulators while
reinforcing the USG position on the regulation and reiterating the
need for transparent science-based regulations that have minimal
trade impact.

- The expert's discussions should demonstrate the potential of
biotechnology to develop domestic agriculture while underscoring
among policymakers the need to adopt biotechnology in local farming.
This meets USG policy objectives to increase the use of

biotechnology and will also assist Sri Lanka to achieve its food
security needs.

Post responsible officer:
--------------------------

Kami Witmer, Economic Officer. Email: WitmerKA@state.gov, Tel:
94-11-2498500. Back-Up: Adrian Mendis, Commercial Specialist.
Email: MendisA@state.gov. Tel: 94-11-249-8500. Post notes it's
agreement, if funds are allocated for this program, to provide a
detailed description of the audience reached, analysis on whether
the program influenced public perceptions, and the level of media
coverage achieved.

BLAKE

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