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Cablegate: France On Food Security

VZCZCXRO4709
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #1004 1490921
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 280921Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3156
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 0012
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS PARIS 001004

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD EAGR EAID ECON TBIO FR
SUBJECT: France on Food Security

REF: STATE 1372030

1. (SBU) Summary: Econ Counselor raised reftel points
on the President's global food security initiative
with Francois Giovalucchi, advisor to Cooperation
Minister Joyandet, and Florence Lasbennes, Cooperation
Economic and Agricultural Development Office Chief, on
May 19. Giovalucchi and Lasbennes: said France
shared concerns on export restrictions; maintained
that France was open to a role for agricultural
biotechnology in emerging markets as long as
appropriate regulatory authorities were in place; and,
took points on Doha on board without comment.
Lasbennes said the GOF was finalizing longer-term
policy proposals, which it would have in time for the
June 3 - 5 FAO Summit on World Food Security (which
President Sarkozy will attend). Separately Post
provided points to the Ministry of Agriculture and to
the Ministry of Economy. End summary.

2. (SBU) Giovalucchi and Lasbennes said in the near-
term France would double its 2008 food aid from 30 to
60 million euros and boost amounts provided through
cash-for-work programs targeting the urban poor. The
GOF was most concerned about the coming three months,
notably in the sub-Sahel where stocks had been
depleted and populations were nearing the limits of
reserve capacity.

3. (SBU) France's Agricultural Research Center for
International Development (CIRAD) was in the process
of finalizing a report for the GOF's inter-ministerial
group on food security that would inform a longer-term
policy response to the crisis (a report that would be
made public). With branches throughout the developing
world - and notably in West Africa -- CIRAD was well-
placed to provide informed analysis, Lasbennes said.
Pending completion of the report the GOF's focus was
on improving aid efficiency, and food aid and market
"architecture" consistent with MDG-8, and within the
framework of the UN's Global Food Security Task Force.

4. (SBU) CIRAD's initial findings showed considerable
variation from commodity to commodity, and thus a
situation that escaped easy generalization. Wheat has
been on an upward trajectory for ten years, rice has
climbed much more recently. Lasbennes noted that
while CIRAD found that growing emerging market demand
played a role in price increases, demand growth had
actually decelerated over the past year. The findings
also showed that in real terms today's price spike was
less severe than that of the 1970s.

5. (SBU) Lasbennes pointed to the entrance of hedge
funds into agricultural commodity markets --
particularly rice -- as a factor in price volatility.
Price increases had largely been captured by
intermediaries, she said, and had yet to cycle through
to the farmer.

6. (SBU) Comment: On bio-tech, Doha and, more
broadly, faith in market adjustment mechanisms, making
common cause with the French on a long-term approach
to the food crisis will be a challenge. We can expect
the French political class to find grist for continued
bashing of speculators and "market manipulators" in
the profit-taking of hedge fund and other market
participants on agricultural commodity price swings.
Some of that worldview will inform French long-term
thinking on food security policy, and we should be
prepared to respond appropriately.

STAPLETON

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