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Cablegate: Romania: Sen. Lugar Presses Minister Of

VZCZCXRO9434
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBM #0717/01 2541138
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101138Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
TO RUEHSF/AMEMBASSY SOFIA PRIORITY 4998
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8690
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 000717

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/CE, OES, AND H
H PLEASE PASS TO SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS, KMEYERS
SOFIA FOR FAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD ENRG ECON PGOV PREL TBIO RO
SUBJECT: ROMANIA: SEN. LUGAR PRESSES MINISTER OF
ENVIRONMENT ON BIOTECHNOLOGY, CLIMATE CHANGE

REF: A. A) BUCHAREST 687
B. B) BUCHAREST 689

1. (SBU) Summary. Highlighting his experience as a farmer,
visiting Senator Richard Lugar on August 28 encouraged
Minister of Environment Attila Korodi to permit the use of
more advanced agricultural methods in Romania, including
biotechnology. Korodi indicated a willingness to reevaluate
his positions as technology improves, but said he remains
focused on traceability issues and the potential harm that
GMO contamination could do to Romania's organic food
industry. On energy, both agreed on the importance of
increasing energy efficiency and finding new sources of
supply, but differed over the best approach for combating
climate change. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Continuing on some of the themes that he had
explored in an earlier meeting with Foreign Minister Lazar
Comanescu (ref B), Lugar raised the importance of reducing
trade barriers and intensely utilizing technology, such as
GMO seeds, in order to combat hunger, especially in African
countries experiencing food shortages. While admitting that
high prices were good for farmers like himself, Lugar
encouraged Korodi to focus on the importance of freeing
farmers to grow and export whatever is needed to feed an
increasingly hungry world. In acknowledging the overall
importance of this goal, Korodi countered that Romania is
hampered by EU agricultural policies, which have a direct
effect on Romania's ability to achieve the highest possible
agricultural output. Korodi also pointed to Romania's rich
biodiversity and the country's role as one of the biggest EU
producers of organic food, an industry that he feels would be
imperiled by more intensive GMO use. Turning to the
cultivation of Monsanto's MON 810 corn, Korodi said he
supported the efforts of the national Biosafety Commission
(BSC), which has been tasked with evaluating the safety of
MON 810 for use in Romania. (Comment: One of the
commissioners recently briefed Emboff on the BSC's
deliberations, and said that the consensus decision will
likely be that MON 810 is safe to plant. It is unclear
whether Korodi was aware of this at the time of his meeting
with Senator Lugar. End Comment.) Korodi did admit,
however, that improving technology and enhanced traceability
methods might make GMO cultivation less risky from an
environmental standpoint.

3. (SBU) Turning to energy and the environment, both Lugar
and Korodi agreed on the overall importance of increasing
energy efficiency and seeking new energy supplies. Korodi
highlighted Romania's role as a large renewable energy
producer with established hydroelectric facilities, and also
remarked on the potential for the use of wind power,
biofuels, and biomass. Increasing the penetration of these
technologies will allow Romania to reduce dependence on
increasingly expensive imported energy sources. Lugar agreed
with this goal, but also encouraged Romania to think broadly
and engage with the U.S. directly on issues such as climate
change, arguing that it is unfair to ask American consumers
in Indiana (where coal-fired plants account for 94 percent of
electricity generation) to shut their plants while China
builds three new coal plants per week. Pointing out that new
technology was delivering climate change solutions, Lugar
remarked that Indiana farmers were using no-till agricultural
methods, planting trees, and buying more fuel-efficient
vehicles, all of which should be considered as part of a
global solution. Korodi acknowledged Lugar's argument, but
also said that Romania would closely adhere to EU positions
on climate change.

4. (SBU) Comment. Post's relationship with the Ministry of
Environment under Korodi has occasionally been difficult, due
in part to perceptions at the Ministry that Romania, as an EU
member, and the U.S. have little in common on issues such as
agricultural biotechnology and climate change. However,
Lugar's visit did highlight some possible opportunities, such
as in promotion of renewable energy, for increased
cooperation. Perhaps expecting a more contentious meeting,
Korodi seemed disarmed by Lugar's ready acknowledgement of
the importance of environmental stewardship and the role that
farmers can play in this process. Korodi appeared open to
American ideas, such as the expanded use of wind energy and
farmland as part of carbon capture schemes, and American
technology, such as improvements in the efficiency of
automobiles and farm equipment, as tools in addressing

BUCHAREST 00000717 002 OF 002


climate change. Furthermore, Korodi did acknowledge that
improving technologies could possibly sway him on the merits
of GMO cultivation, which Romania is under intense pressure
from some EU quarters to restrict or ban outright. Post will
work to expand on these openings with the Ministry in the
coming months. End Comment.
TAUBMAN

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