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Cablegate: Germany/Agriculture: Guilt by Association - Genetically

VZCZCXRO7391
PP RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHYG
DE RUEHMZ #0365/01 3151042
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101042Z NOV 08
FM AMCONSUL MUNICH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4559
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEU/EU INTEREST COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUNICH 000365

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USDA FOR FAS/OSTA EJONES AND OCRA/EUR BBAYSINGER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO BTIO PGOV GM
SUBJECT: GERMANY/AGRICULTURE: GUILT BY ASSOCIATION - GENETICALLY
ENGINEERED CORN TARNISHES MONSANTO'S IMAGE IN BAVARIA

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) Summary: Monsanto fears that "populist" and "unbalanced"
attacks by German and Bavarian politicians over Monsanto's
genetically engineered corn have the potential to damage MonsantoQs
much larger core business for conventional seeds and pest control
products in Germany. When asked by Monsanto to intervene with
Bavarian government officials to urge a more even-handed approach,
the Consul General said we would continue to support biotech efforts
generally and, when appropriate, would ask Bavarian officials to
treat Monsanto even-handedly. End Summary.

Monsanto's Image Should Not Suffer Because of Biotech
--------------------------------------------- ---------
2. (SBU) Meeting with the Consul General on November 3, Monsanto's
Ursula Luettmer Ouazane (Area Lead for North Europe, based in the
Netherlands) noted that Monsanto had just six percent of the overall
market in Germany for seed and pesticides. She complained, "We are
hardly the monopolistic agribusiness giant that the politicians
claim" when they criticize us for using our market position to force
the system to accept genetically engineered seeds. With 1.6 million
hectares of "conventional" corn planted in Germany, and only some
3000 hectares of Monsanto genetically engineered corn planted
country-wide, Monsanto's "GMO business in Germany is merely a
hobby", Ouazane joked.

3. (SBU) However, she was not joking about the potential damage to
Monsanto's image that "the populist Minister President Seehofer" and
new Bavarian Environmental Minister Soeder could cause by "always
demonizing Monsanto solely over the GMO segment of the business,"
where they dominate in what is a tiny German market, according to

4. (SBU) Monsanto's genetically engineered corn product in Germany
specifically resists the corn borer, which Monsanto believes infests
at least one-quarter of Bavarian corn fields, according to Dr.
Andreas Thierfelder (Director Public and Government Affairs Austria,
Germany Switzerland), who joined Ouazane on the visit. Thierfelder
claimed that Bavaria had stopped research on the corn borer because,
he said, the government alleges the problem is not severe.
Thierfelder dismissed this position as "ridiculous," citing
continuing demand for pesticides against the borer as evidence, and
he said Monsanto is running tests to verify the current spread of
the pest.

Seeing Is Believing - Monsanto Works to Educate Its Customers
--------------------------------------------- ----------------
5. (SBU) Monsanto has long enjoyed profitable and cordial business
relations with Bavarian farmers, according to Thierfelder. Most of
MonsantoQs business with farmers is in conventional products like
seeds and Roundup, the popular pesticide. Through presentations at
agricultural fairs and "winter schools" for farmers, Monsanto
distributes information and teaches its customers about genetically
engineered organisms, Thierfelder said. Monsanto actively supports
a network for those farmers who use the modern seeds so they can
share ideas and give each other moral support in the face of
protests and rejection by their peers. Thierfelder was interested
in working with the USG to help send farmers on exchange programs to
the United States to see for themselves how U.S. counterparts use
the modern seeds and how well they grow.

Bavarian Officials Impolite to Monsanto Representatives
--------------------------------------------- ----------

6. (SBU) Despite the good working relationship that Monsanto has
with its clients for non-GMO items, the representatives complained
that they increasingly had problems getting appointments at relevant
ministries in Bavaria. They said that they are confronted with
downright hostility on the part of the FarmerQs Association
(Bauernverband), where the leadership uses harsh language like
"dominance" and "hate." Thierfelder reported that Bavarian farmers
willing to use GMOs routinely face harassment. A Monsanto research
unit with 5 employees in the area of Passau is facing similar
problems.

7. (SBU) The Consul General said we would continue to advocate a
fair hearing for genetically engineered organisms in general. Where
the opportunity presented itself with Bavarian interlocutors, he
said we would point out that blanket criticism of Monsanto over one
small segment of its business is unfair and counterproductive. He
asked the Monsanto representatives to alert us to specific cases
where they felt that statements or actions by politicians or
farmers' representatives crossed the line. The Consulate General
continues to support outreach on biotech in coordination with USDA's

MUNICH 00000365 002 OF 002


Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS).

NELSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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