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Cablegate: Gof Consulting On Animal Cloning

VZCZCXRO4323
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #1412/01 2051651
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231651Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3890
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2935
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 001412

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR SENV ECON ETRD EU FR
SUBJECT: GOF CONSULTING ON ANIMAL CLONING

1. Summary and Background: The French Ministry of Agriculture
(MinAg) is currently holding consultations on animal cloning in
order to prepare a national regulatory framework on the issue. The
MinAg is using the French Advisory Committee on Food (in French,
"Conseil national de l'Alimentation", or CNA) for these
consultations. CNA has formed a working group on animal cloning,
whose members include representatives of the livestock industry,
researchers, farmers, the animal genetics industry, consumer groups,
the agro-food industry, and lawyers. The working group is
conducting a number of hearings, and recently requested a
presentation on the U.S. situation on animal cloning from FAS/Paris.
Based on comments of the group, the CNA appears to be leaning
towards a conclusion that cloning is not a viable option in France
because of animal welfare concerns, and that any products of cloned
animals (and very possibly their offspring) would have to be subject
to rigorous traceability and labeling requirements. End Summary.

2. At this July 10 hearing, Agricultural Minister-Counselor made a
presentation cleared by an interagency group, in which she provided
the USG position on animal cloning, a historical background of the
U.S. food safety review of animal cloning, the current USDA
transition plan, the U.S. view on labeling,, as well as approaches
being taken by other countries.
USTR rep from Brussels also participated in the discussion.

3. One CNA member expressed doubt that cloned and conventional
animals were equivalent based on a recent study published by the UK
Food Standards Agency concluding that with animal cloning, there are
efficiency and animal welfare problems. He also asserted that there
had never been as many animal health problems with artificial
insemination and in vitro fertilization as had been encountered with
animal cloning. Further, he noted that extremely rare diseases
appeared with cloned animals. Other CNA members supported this
position. (Note: These conclusions appear in the 2005 French Food
Safety Agency (AFSSA) report released on animal cloning. End Note.)
Consequently, the group appeared to have come to the conclusion that
animal cloning would not be viable in France because of animal
welfare concerns. (Note: France is normally not a strong animal
welfare advocate given the criticisms aimed at the practice of
"gavage" or force feeding of fowl destined for the foie gras
industry. End note.)

4. CNA working group members insisted that French citizens'
concerns regarding food are not only a question of food safety, but
also focus on food production processes. As a result, it seems very
likely that they will recommend labeling on food products derived
from animal clones and progeny. Also, they disagreed with the U.S.
assertion that consumer acceptance increases when their education is
higher on technologies, and cited the example of GMOs.

5. The CNA is expected to release its final recommendation to the
French Government (GOF) on food products from cloned animals and
their offspring by next fall. Also, the European Food Safety Agency
is expected to release its final report on animal cloning this month
(July 2008). The French Presidency of the European Union also
proposed a meeting of the European expert group on the Novel Food
Regulation, where animal cloning would be addressed (no date has
been set yet). The GOF is expected to establish its own regulatory
measures on this issue, based on this series of consultations, and
on the reviews by European authorities, by the end of this year or
in the first half of 2009. It is not clear yet how the French
regulation on animal cloning would relate to regulatory decisions
taken at the European level. In the absence of an EU regulation,
Member State regulations prevail. Even if an EU regulation is
published first, France could conceivably argue that it needs a
stricter regulation.

6 The following questions were asked by the CNA working group. They
request a response by August 15 in order to be able to complete
their report:
- How many cloned animals are there currently in the U.S.? (what
are their ages and breeds)
- What are the economic and technological benefits of animal
cloning? What characteristics are targeted to be improved?
- Is semen from cloned animals currently marketed in the U.S.?

7. Comment: Both CNA members and the leading farmers' unions
(queried separately) emphasized the downside of introducing cloned
animals into France (i.e. anticipated consumer resistance and
consequent economic risk). At the same time, they do not see any
compelling advantages that would outweigh this risk. Any further

PARIS 00001412 002 OF 002


information on anticipated advantages, particularly for consumers,
would be useful, as would be exchanges between U.S. and European
livestock producers. End comment.

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