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Cablegate: Funding Request for Fy2008 Eeb Biotechnology Outreach In

VZCZCXRO5681
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHWR #0134/01 0310643
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 310643Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY WARSAW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5863
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC 2033
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
INFO RUEHKW/AMCONSUL KRAKOW 1978
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 WARSAW 000134

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/NCE
STATE FOR EEB/TPP/ABT/BTT FINN
USDA FOR FAS/OSTA MHENNEY, LJONES
USDA FOR FAS/OCRA/RCURTIS, DSEIDBAND
USDOC FOR ITA/MAC MROGERS
BRUSSELS PASS AG MINISTER COUNSELOR;
EUROPEAN POSTS FOR AGR/ECON

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON ETRD TBIO PGOV PL
SUBJECT: FUNDING REQUEST FOR FY2008 EEB BIOTECHNOLOGY OUTREACH IN
POLAND


WARSAW 00000134 001.2 OF 002


REFTEL: 07 STATE 160639

1. Summary. Post requests USD $34,000 to fund agricultural
biotechnology programs in FY 2008. Funds are targeted at key issues
where USG investments can have the greatest impact. This year,
prospects are brighter to influence Polish decision-makers with a
new, more pro-business government in place. Large-scale farmers
clearly see the benefits from biotechnology and have been lobbying
hard for changes. Post's program will help Poland adopt clear,
useful regulations on the coexistence of biotechnology products with
other crops. The program will partner with the Ministries of
Agriculture and Environment to consider appropriate risk management
strategies to protect the environment and fund translations of
peer-reviewed scientific articles into Polish for the academic
community. These projects were developed based on requests for
assistance from government and academic officials in Poland. End
Summary.

POLAND'S AGRICULTURAL LEADERS NO LONGER
NEED CONVINCING, THEY WANT HELP
--------------------------------
2. Poland is an influential nation in the European Union and its
new Government has recently shifted its public and private stance on
biotechnology crops. Poland recently voted to abstain at the
standing committee of food safety and animal health's voting to
allow U.S. rice to return to the market. This vote pattern marks a
change from the hostility of the past government to demarches and
U.S. initiatives on biotechnology. Its AgMinister has publicly
announced his openness to a new way forward. Privately the minister
has stated he wants help. Poland is a market for 2 million tons of
soybean meal annually, including product from the United States. As
a fast-developing agricultural producer, seed sales companies report
opportunities to capture annual seed sales of $30-45 million after a
few years of marketing.

3. Two biotechnology issues are being reexamined by a new Polish
government, in place as of December -- a ban on biotechnology crops
in animal feed and a ban on the cultivation of biotech crops. Each
policy was engineered by the previous government. Lifting these
bans is broadly supported by coalitions of animal feed processors,
animal producers, growers, local farm groups, national farm lobbies,
and food safety officials. Lately, industry has written open
letters to the new Government requesting an update in legislation to
these issues. In their opposition to change, Poland's decision
makers raise just two issues - how to protect the environment and to
address generally negative consumer attitudes. New government
members have requested mission assistance specifically regarding
environmental protection, an area of great controversy and one
exploited by NGO's opposed to ag biotechnology.

4. Poland recently lost a case with the EU on whether it can ban GMO
planting or GMO's in animal feed and has been told to update its
legislation by the Commission. Poland is now considering adopting a
regulation to approve coexistence principles for biotech products.
Immediate action is needed. Poland will be working on legislation
to be approved by June. There continue to be strong reactions from
the poultry and pork industry, as well as agricultural economists
saying that non-GM feeds would enormously increase the cost of meat
production and make it unprofitable; meanwhile Polish meat prices
are lower than normal and the industry cannot afford high cost
inputs. Poland's feed and meat industry is concerned about the fate
of American soybeans in Europe and express support for a fix to the
upcoming 2009 crop problem for non-EU approved varieties in the U.S.
crop. On seed legislation, the situation is heating up due to
Poland's non-compliance with EU law and strong lobbying from farmers
and farm groups who have lost their crops due to increasing
infestations of the European corn borer and root worm. Polish
farmers are growing agitated at the ability of their Czech neighbors
to plant while they remain shutoff from crop-saving technology.
With the new Schengen-zone open borders, Polish farmers report that
they expect simply to move seed to their farms from member nations
where sales are allowed.

CURRENT MISSION ACTION ON BIOTECH
---------------------------------
5. Elements of the Mission in Poland are working closely on this
issue and a biotech working group is functioning. Post will raise

WARSAW 00000134 002.2 OF 002


the biotechnology issue in an upcoming U.S.-Poland Economic
Commercial Dialogue, with the help of the Department of Commerce.
Mission Warsaw plans in upcoming months to make use of State IV and
speakers programs to address consumer biotech concerns. USDA has
some funds available that will pay a portion of an upcoming trip to
the United States of Poland's national agricultural chambers. This
delegation of twenty farm producers is paying its own travel costs,
while USDA is financing the cost of translators and contractors for
appointments and logistical support. The projects proposed here are
complementary to these activities as they address the technical
assistance needs of the Government of Poland to update their
legislation.

MISSION PROPOSALS
-----------------
6. Project 1: Bring environmental control experts to Poland. This
proposal funds travel to Poland of U.S. and third country scientists
with expertise in the environmental control of biotech crops. This
project addresses the fundamental concern of Poland's politicians to
retain the nation's cultural identity as a source for high-quality
foods. Funds will be used for two teams to visit Poland, the first
in April and the second in June. Experts will make presentations on
appropriate risk management for coexistence of crops to stakeholders
in the industry and farm lobbies in Poland, as well as travel to the
regions. Experts will meet with Polish Ministry officials to answer
questions and provide background. Embassy will support some press
availability for travelers. However, the focus of these groups is
to provide insight to agricultural decision makers of how to
practically address their environmental concerns. Request: $18,000.


7. Project 2: Translating peer-reviewed scientific articles. This
activity addresses the difficulty Polish scientists have in being
heard and in keeping up to date with the latest biotech
developments. Post notes that in past years, scientific information
such as new environmental studies and basic science has been
transferred to Polish academics only in English. Most translating
funds have been spent on fact sheets or q and a. Polish culture
distrusts such documents as "agitatsia" or propaganda. Post is told
that the strategic territory for fact sheets or opinion pieces is
overwhelmingly controlled by the environmental movement. Offering
more, and quality new science on the environment, economics, and new
techniques in biotechnology proves both that science supports the
technology, and counteracts negative influences that can only offer
unsubstantiated opinion. Post will partner with academic
institutions themselves to pay for translation and use scientific
and embassy outreach to distribute them to the press and
politicians. This activity keeps alive strong scientific
partnership between academia and the Embassy. Request: $16,000.

8. Embassy Warsaw understands the reporting requirements as
outlined in reftel. The responsible officer for the program is Eric
Wenberg, Agricultural Counselor, (eric.wenberg@fas.usda.gov)
supported by Exec, Econ, FCS, PA, and Pol.

9. Post considers that the proposed projects have no funding
alternative except EB's outreach program and are fundamental to a
successful outcome for biotechnology reforms in Poland in 2008.
Poland has not received funding in several years, but is due
consideration with a new government and new legislative movements
underway. Thank you for your consideration.
HILLAS

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