Search

 

Cablegate: Egyptians Open to Biotech, Criticize Biofuels,

VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #1102/01 1501420
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291420Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9393
INFO RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 1607
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS CAIRO 001102

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ELA, EBB/TPP, EBB/IFD
USDA FOR FAS CJACKSON AND MHOUSE
USTR FOR FRANCESKI
COMMERCE FOR 4520/ITA/ANESA/OBERG
ROME FOR FAO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD EAGR EG
SUBJECT: EGYPTIANS OPEN TO BIOTECH, CRITICIZE BIOFUELS,
DEFEND RICE EXPORT BAN

REF: A. STATE 52628
B. STATE 53346
C. STATE 53353

Sensitive but unclassified, not for Internet distribution.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Ministry of Trade and Ministry of
Agriculture officials defended the GOE ban on rice exports,
criticized USG support of biofuels, and noted the GOE's
recent approval of a genetically modified variety of corn as
evidence of Egypt's openness to agricultural biotechnology in
response to reftel demarches on the President's Global Food
Security Initiative. Officials also noted that President
Hosni Mubarak will be traveling with Minister of Agriculture
Amin Abaza on June 3 to Rome, where Abaza plans to meet with
the US delegation on the margins of the Food and Agricultural
Organization's World Food Security conference. We expect
these GOE positions to be reflected in a GOE strategy on food
security that Mubarak plans to present to the conference.
END SUMMARY.

-------
Biotech
-------

2. (SBU) Walid el-Nozahay, head of the Ministry of Trade's
WTO department, and Fadia Nosseir, head of foreign
agricultural relations for the Ministry of Agriculture, both
signaled that the GOE will be increasingly open to the use of
agricultural biotechnology as a tool to fight hunger (ref B).
On March 24, Abaza approved recommendations by the GOE's
National Biosafety Committee and Seed Registration Committee
to allow for commercialization of a genetically modified
variety of biotech corn, marking the first genetically
modified crop approved for domestic planting in Egypt.
El-Nozahay, noting that the Ministry works with USAID to
reform and update its trade laws, said he would consider any
USG informal suggestions for improving GOE laws on biotech
that are consistent with its obligations under the Cartagena
Protocol. Nosseir noted that the MOA is fully supportive of
biotechnology but that the Ministry of State for
Environmental Affairs had resisted it.

---------------
Rice Export Ban
---------------

3. (SBU) In response to ref C USG concerns about food staple
export restrictions, El-Nozahay defended the GOE's ban on
rice exports as an emergency measure consistent with the
GOE's WTO obligations and necessary to meet domestic demand
at an affordable price. He noted that other countries such
as India had instituted similar bans. El-Nozahay said that
he understood the ban was undesirable in terms of trade
policy, but nevertheless was necessary to respond to domestic
political pressure for affordable food. While the ban is
temporary, it's unclear how long the GOE will leave it in
place, he said. He added that representatives of the EU and
Turkey had recently delivered demarches with similar concerns.

-----------------
Biofuel criticism
-----------------

4. (SBU) El-Nozahay noted GOE concerns that US support for
biofuels are contributing to the rising price of food
internationally. Mubarak made the same argument in a speech
to the World Economic Forum May 18 in Sharm el-Sheikh. In
the speech, Mubarak criticized government subsidies to
produce ethanol from agricultural produce, calling for
international dialogue between energy and food exporters and
importers in order to meet international demand for both.
According to press accounts, Mubarak will present a strategy
at the FAO conference in Rome to address these issues.

5. (SBU) Comment: We are encouraged that the GOE appears
increasingly open to biotech as a solution to addressing food
prices, although we do not expect bureaucratic resistance to
fade quickly. Likewise we are encouraged that Mubarak seems
to be looking for new solutions to the problem of rising food
prices and food security, although we do not know how that
will translate into GOE approaches in Doha negotiations on
agricultural market access. We do know that GOE concerns

about domestic unrest are well-founded. According to press
accounts, an interior ministry official recently sought
emergency funding for riot-control equipment in anticipation
of riots over rising food prices. Biotech and trade
liberalization do not offer immediate relief to this problem,
but the current environment does give us an opening to make
the case for long-term solutions.
SCOBEY

© 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: