Search

 

Cablegate: France to Invoke Safeguard Clause Against Mon 810

VZCZCXRO1693
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #0078/01 0141728
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141728Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1700
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2810
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RUEHMRE/AMCONSUL MARSEILLE 1942
RUEHSR/AMCONSUL STRASBOURG 0523

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 000078

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

BRUSSELS PASS USEU FOR AGMINCOUNSELOR
STATE FOR OES; EUR/ERA; EEB/TPP/ABT/BTT (BOBO)
STATE PASS USTR FOR MURPHY/CLARKSON OCRA/CURTIS
STA/SIMMONS/JONES/HENNEY/SISSON
EU POSTS PASS TO AGRICULTURE AND ECON
GENEVA FOR USTR AND AGRICULTURE
DEPT FOR EUR/WE, EUR/PPD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR SENV ECON ETRD KPAO EU FR
SUBJECT: FRANCE TO INVOKE SAFEGUARD CLAUSE AGAINST MON 810

REF: (A) 2007 PARIS 4660; (B) 2007 PARIS 4364; (C) 2007 PARIS 4731

PARIS 00000078 001.2 OF 002


Sensitive but unclassified, please protect accordingly.

SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND

1. (SBU) On the evening of January 11 the office of the Prime
Minister issued a press release initiating the safeguard clause
against MON 810 in France until a reevaluation of this variety
occurs at the European level. The GOF justified this action by
applying the precautionary principle, which is enshrined in France's
constitution, based on a literature search performed by a high
authority on GMOs. The president of the high authority had stated
several days earlier that there were "serious doubts" about MON 810
on the basis of its inquiry. His statement was immediately refuted
by 12 of the 15 scientists on the committee. This authority's
review of MON 810 was precipitated by a process known as the
"Grenelle of the Environment," a wide-ranging public debate promised
by President Sarkozy during his election campaign. As part of this
process the GOF also drafted a biotechnology coexistence law, which
will be debated by the French parliament in the coming months. End
Summary

2. (SBU) The component of the Grenelle process on GMOs ended with an
apparent deal between the GOF and the French farmers' union, FNSEA,
that a temporary freeze would be announced on MON 810 (the only
biotech variety grown in France). In exchange, a new law creating a
framework for biotech cultivation (as required by the EC) would be
put into effect in time for this year's planting season, while an
interim authority would review the safety of MON 810.

3. (U) In December 2007, the French government requested that this
interim authority, divided into two groups, one of scientists, and
the other of lay people including farmers, politicians and
non-governmental organizations examine MON 810. Its president, a
senator, also chaired the GMO working group in the Grenelle process.
Concurrently, a temporary freeze was placed on MON 810.

4. (U) As the January 11 deadline for the committee's work
approached the environmental lobbies, angry that the temporary
freeze was set to expire on February 9, demanded that the GOF invoke
the safeguard clause and declare a moratorium against MON 810 as Min
Environment had promised them. Fifteen activists, led by Jose Bove
began a highly-publicized hunger strike several days ago, which they
vowed to maintain until a moratorium was announced.

5. (U) The GOF responded to this pressure. On January 8, French
President Nicolas Sarkozy said during a televised press conference
that if this committee of experts raised doubts on the safety of MON
810, he would use a safeguard clause. The following day, the
authority released its conclusions. Its president was widely quoted
as stating that there are serious doubts about the safety of MON810,
based on "a number of new scientific findings negatively impacting
fauna and flora" and long-distance dissemination. Despite the fact
that this proclamation was publicly disputed by 12 of the 15
scientists on the high authority as well as the president of the
National Assembly, the invocation of the safeguard clause was
announced on January 11.

6. (U) During the final days of the authority's deliberations,
discussion of the government's proposed law on biotech coexistence
was removed from the Senate's docket, but after strident objections
from both the Senate and the president of the leading farmers'
union, it was reinstated (but for a date that will delay its
conclusion until after municipal elections scheduled for March.

PUBLIC REACTION AND COMMENTARY

7. (U) Factual reporting on the GMO issue has been steady in the
national print and electronic media since the beginning of the
month, but in the last week commentary has started to revolve around
three themes: first, that the French government purposefully
orchestrated its actions on GMOs to gain advantage in the municipal
elections; second, that the Environment Grenelle meeting in October
2007 drew unprecedented attention to the issue of GMOs and
sensitized the French public, and finally, concerns about the
reaction of the U.S. in the event of a GMO ban in France.

PARIS 00000078 002.2 OF 002

8. (U) Commentaries at the end of the week highlighted the
tug-of-war over the GMO ban. On January 11, centrist business daily
La Tribune emphasized the ire of the principal farmers' union, the
FNSEA, as well as that of the grain farmers ORAMA, which claims that
"serious doubts" of the Biotech Interim Committee are motivated by
nothing more than political interests and were "written solely to
provide the government with the necessary justification to invoke
the safeguard clause" and regrets this decision for farmers, for the
planting seed industry, and for the functioning of the European
process.

9. (U) In the January 13 issue of Le Journal du Dimanche, the
President of the National Assembly, Bernard Accoyer, penned an op-ed
in which he wondered if France can realistically outline its future
with regard to GMOs on the basis of a study that was hastily carried
out. "The GMO issue is a complex one. It calls into question our
very concept of progress and society... We should be careful not to
make GMOs the 21st century subject of a trial for heresy."

10. (U) For La Tribune, "the GMOs' fate is pending" and the
"moratorium on GMOs is turning into a political quarrel." Nathalie
Kosciusko-Morizet, State Secretary for Ecology is quoted saying that
the European Commission will likely be sensitive to the signal that
France is sending to the Commission since it is questioning the
appropriateness of selling Monsanto 811, Monsanto 810's little
brother.

COMMENT

11. (SBU) The Sarkozy Administration has been trying hard to
manipulate this issue for domestic political reasons. As indicated
in paragraph 10, however, a strong anti-GMO faction, including the
Environment Ministry and Minister of State Borloo, are also
manipulating the policy with the intent of putting France in the
forefront of a European anti-GMO movement, just in time for France's
EU presidency. End Comment.
STAPLETON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: