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Cablegate: Clones and Clone Products Denounced by French Advisory

VZCZCXRO6463
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHFR #1894/01 2891852
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151852Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4518
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEAUSA/HHS WASHDC
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2958
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 001894

SIPDIS

BRUSSELS PASS USEU FOR AGMINCOUNSELOR, USTR
STATE FOR OES; EUR/ERA; EEB/TPP/ABT/BTT (BOBO);
STATE PASS USTR FOR MURPHY/CLARKSON;

OCRA/SALMON/ALEXANDER;
ONA/RIEMENSCHNEIDER/YOUNG;
OFSO/LEE/YOUNG;
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: CLONES AND CLONE PRODUCTS DENOUNCED BY FRENCH ADVISORY
BODY

Ref: PARIS 001412

1. Summary: The release on the market of products sourced from
cloned animals and their offspring should be prohibited according to
the October 14 conclusions of the French Advisory Committee on Food
(Conseil national de l'Alimentation.) The CNA is an official
advisory body. Its conclusions were based mainly on ethical
considerations and targeted the importation of cloned animals, their
progeny and any product (meat, milk, embryos and semen) sourced from
these animals. End Summary.

2. The CNA working group on animal cloning included representatives
of the livestock industry, researchers, farmers, the animal genetics
industry, consumer groups, the agro-food industry, journalists, and
lawyers. The working group conducted a number of hearings (Reftel)
as well as an intensive literature review.


3. The CNA gave several reasons for its recommendation. According to
CNA, the health risk evaluation is not adequate with a low
percentage of full-term gestations and a high frequency of clones
suffering from morphological and metabolic anomalies. CNA also
concluded that the economic benefits for producers and consumers
were not demonstrated and that release onto the market would result
in heightened consumer concerns about food production processes.

4. On the other hand, CNA recognized that there was no significant
difference in meat and milk composition, digestibility or toxicity,
according to the current state of science. CNA recommended that
in-depth research be continued as long as "it does not hurt human
dignity, and as long as a valuable public debate is organized."

5. In its conclusions, the CNA mentioned that meat sourced from
cloned animals is already present on the U.S. market citing a Wall
Street Journal dated September 3, 2008, and added that in Japan,
meat from clones had been on the market for a long time. (Comment:
Post would appreciate guidance on how to respond to the allegation
purportedly made in the WSJ. End comment.)

6. Contacts at both the French Ministry of Agriculture and the
European Commission mentioned the risk of severe trade disruption
should France and the EU implement any import prohibition from
countries where cloned animals, their offspring and their products
are not traced, explicitly mentioning the United States.

7. Comment: The timeframe for an official GOF decision on the CNA
recommendation is unclear as is the timeframe for an EU decision,
(with which France would be required to comply). Private
conversations with high-level French officials indicate that the GOF
is likely to accept the CNA recommendation. In 2007, France imported
USD 2.7 million of bovine semen, USD 1 million of embryos, USD 12.6
million of milk and milk products, and a significant volume of
processed food, which could contain milk.
End Comment.

BEGIN OFFICIAL TRANSLATION OF CNA OPINION (SUMMARY)

OPINION ABOUT THE CONSUMPTION OF PRODUCTS DERIVED FROM CLONED
ANIMALS AND THEIR OFFSPRING

At a time when there is a great emphasis on supporting biodiversity
which comes about notably through genetic variability expressed by
sexual reproduction, the technical possibility of animal cloning -
which indeed seeks to avoid producing variability - is a kind of
successful accomplishment of the modern project of controlling
animal reproduction.

It should be noted however that contrary to a fairly widespread
belief, a clone and its parent do not strictly have the same genetic
identity. Moreover, epigenetic modifications may appear when an
incomplete reprogramming of the genomes occurs, modifications which
might explain the high embryonic and perinatal mortality now
observed in all the countries developing this technique.
Ultimately, and although this appears capable of improvement, the
current success rate of the transfer of cloned embryos is only
around 10%. Although experts remain divided as to the source and
importance of the pathologies linked to this technique, they are

PARIS 00001894 002 OF 003


nevertheless in agreement over the need to continue the analysis of
genetic and epigenetic risks before any decision regarding its use
by the animal reproduction industry. It is this same pathological
weight which also invalidates this technique in regard to the
consideration given to the health and well-being of the cloned
animals.

As far as the aspects relative to the quality and the safety for the
health of products from cloned animals are concerned (especially
milk and meat), it should be noted that the studies undertaken so
far do not call for reservations about their innocuousness. This
conclusion however, even in the opinion of scientists remains to be
confirmed.

Although the technical feasibility of cloning has led to a body
knowledge about developmental biology, its economic interest is
currently still very limited in the short to medium term, at least
in so far as its application to breeding animals. Moreover, the hope
of saving endangered species using this single technique seems
illusory, even if it may become an additional tool for achieving
this aim. No potential interest would appear to be had either in
regard to the various possible ways in which international
agricultural markets might develop.

The recurring social controversy linked to the use of GM products
provokes great caution from interested parties possibly concerned by
the use of animal cloning. In fact, this technique is perceived, not
only as a prototype, but also appears completely out of step when
compared to the other existing methods of reproduction. The little
time and means devoted until now to public discussion means that
there is a risk that introducing products derived from cloned
animals into the food chain might lead to a strong and long lasting
deterioration in the image of the milk and meat sectors. As
confirmed by the British Food Standards Agency report of June 2008,
obtaining the confidence of consumers requires clear and categorical
responses, notably in terms of the health safety of products derived
from cloned animals and their offspring, of tangible benefits and
animal well-being.

Although not appearing as part of their responsibilities, public
bodies for evaluating food and health risks are gradually
integrating (more or less explicitly) issues of public concern of
this kind. This development is obvious at the European level, and is
possibly encouraged by the current absence of a true socio-economic
expert appraisal mechanism which would be made available to the
decision-makers. Conversely, both appraiser and risk manager, the
American Food and Drug Administration is supposed to take into
consideration socio-economic and ethical considerations prior to its
decision-making. In fact, these mainly rely on health
considerations. This approach risks however becoming redundant,
especially in the light of the strong criticism to which it has been
subject following the green light given in January 2008 to the
consumption of products derived from cloned animals and their
offspring.

As far as regulations are concerned, the current European
arrangement does not set out any particular provisions in regard to
the issue of cloning. This gives rise to the issue of moving forward
the regulations "from the field to the plate", especially by making
specific provisions for cloning.

As far as the aspects relating to the quality and safety for health
of products derived from cloned animals are concerned, it should be
remembered that the analyses undertaken until now do not reveal any
significant differences in comparison to those of "conventional"
animals. Because of this, requirements for traceability and labeling
could therefore be described as being for reasons of society and
would need an objectified consensus from among the various
interested parties. With the prospect of there being a ban on the
consumption of products derived from cloned animals inside the
European Union, initiatives at the WTO would need to be taken to
carry out negotiations with the aim of supplementing the current
rules governing the SPS and TBT Agreements, especially to enable a
Member to make a commercial restrictive provision, and especially a
ban on imports of products derived from cloned animals or their
descendents.


PARIS 00001894 003 OF 003


Not being reduced to the single question of animal well-being, the
ethical discussion on animal cloning however is justified by its
possible applications and its unknown nature which means that the
ethical debate is currently surrounded by unknowns. Two ways have
been explored to try and resolve this ethical indecisiveness. On the
one hand, "decisionism" which is substituted in place of usual
ethical standards by an adhesion process combining the perceived
degree of social acceptability with various forms of technical
democracy. Ethical legitimacy is thus reduced to a problem of
empirical validation, or even with a kind of pragmatism for which
moral good merges with technical efficiency. On the other hand,
there is the option of a reinterpretation which tries to provide an
existential signification of animal cloning through its objective
signification. This option firstly highlights our ethical
responsibility in regard to nature and biodiversity in particular.
Separating itself from naturalism, it re-establishes the moral use
of reason, i.e. its ability to objectify ethical values. Human
action is not reduced simply to technical power over nature. By
using the latter, both as a technical and ethical reference points,
the very idea of genetic progress of breeding animals can be
reinvestigated from a standpoint of sustainable development.

These diverse ethical considerations underlie the recommendations
issued by the members of the Council: continue research provided
this does not infringe human dignity and is for the acquisition of
fundamental knowledge; as a backdrop to this research, work on
making the scientific community especially, aware of the major ethic
effects of their work, i.e. the possibility of a non-desirable
application to the human species itself; re-evaluate the objectives
of selection governing genetic progress of breeding animals from the
standpoint of sustainable development; ban the marketing for food of
products derived from cloned animals or their offspring, the
practice of cloning animals for breeding and importing cloned
animals or their offspring; undertake negotiations at the WTO with
the aim of supplementing the current rules; implement traceability
and labeling in spite of the foreseeable problems and time required
for carrying this out.

End Translation.


Stapleton

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