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Cablegate: Fodag Ambassador Conveys U.S. Message On Food Aid

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ROME 005831

SIPDIS

FROM FODAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AORC AF EAID ETRD EU AF EAID ETRD EU TBIO FAO WFP FAS TBIO AORC FAO WFP FAS
SUBJECT: FODAG AMBASSADOR CONVEYS U.S. MESSAGE ON FOOD AID
AND FAMINE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

REF: STATE 239750 (NOTAL)

1. SUMMARY: AMBASSADOR TONY HALL, U.S. MISSION ROME,
PRESENTED U.S. VIEWS ON THE GROWING HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY
IN SOUTHERN AFRICA ON DECEMBER 2 TO SELECTED ROME-BASED
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVES. AMBASSADOR NICHOLSON, U.S.
AMBASSADOR TO THE HOLY SEE ALSO PARTICIPATED. EU AND
AFRICAN REPRESENTATIVES WELCOMED THE U.S. INITIATIVE; A
CONSENSUS ON THE GROWING URGENCY OF THE SITUATION WAS ALSO
EVIDENT. THE ZIMBABWE REPRESENTATIVE, SPEAKING FOR THE
SOUTHERN AFRICAN SUB-REGION, EXPRESSED APPRECIATION FOR
DONORS' CONCERN AND ASSISTANCE. PARTICIPANTS DID NOT COMMENT
DIRECTLY ON THE AMBASSADOR'S REQUEST FOR COUNTRIES TO SPEAK
OUT ON THE SAFETY OF U.S. FOOD AID OTHER THAN THE EC
REPRESENTATIVE'S AFFIRMATION OF 1) THE SAFETY OF THE FOOD
AID IN QUESTION BUT 2) THE RIGHT OF COUNTRIES TO CHOOSE TO
ACCEPT OR NOT, BASED ON THE "PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE." END
SUMMARY.

UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 ROME 05831 01 OF 02 031557Z
2. AMBASSADOR TONY HALL CONVENED SELECTED ROME-BASED
PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVES TO THE FAO ON DECEMBER 2, 2002 TO
DISCUSS FOOD AID TO COUNTRIES AFFECTED BY DROUGHT IN THE SUB
REGION (REFTEL). ALL EU MEMBERS, PLUS JAPAN, CANADA,
AUSTRALIA AND HEADS OF OTHER FAO REGIONAL GROUPS WERE
INVITED AS WELL AS THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN COUNTRIES AFFECTED
BY THE DROUGHT (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF ZAMBIA, WHICH IS NOT
REPRESENTED IN ROME). OF THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN COUNTRIES,
ONLY ZIMBABWE AND SOUTH AFRICA ATTENDED. AMBASSADOR HALL
BRIEFED PARTICIPANTS USING THE TALKING POINTS IN REFTEL AND
DISTRIBUTED WRITTEN COPIES OF THE U.S. POSITION FOLLOWING
THE MEETING. AMBASSADOR NICHOLSON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE
HOLY SEE, PARTICIPATED AS WELL, USING THE OPPORTUNITY TO
DISCUSS THE RECENT FOCUS OF EMBASSY VATICAN IN ATTEMPTING TO
HAVE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH PLAY A MORE POSITIVE ROLE IN THE GM
FOOD AID DEBATE, NOTING IN PARTICULAR HIS CONCERN ABOUT THE
JESUIT COMMUNITY IN ZAMBIA BEING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THIS
ISSUE.

3. EUROPEAN AND AFRICAN COLLEAGUES WELCOMED THE U.S.
INITIATIVE (UNUSUAL BETWEEN REGULARLY SCHEDULED MEETINGS OF
ROME-BASED UN AGENCIES). DONORS EXPRESSED GROWING CONCERN
WITH THE GRAVITY OF THE SITUATION IN SOUTHERN AFRICA.
DENMARK, SPEAKING AS THE EU PRESIDENT, CALLED FOR GREATER
DONOR COORDINATION, GUIDELINES TO GOVERN DISTRIBUTION IN
ZIMBABWE, PLANNING FOR REHABILITATION OF COUNTRIES FOLLOWING
THE CURRENT CRISIS, AND THE NEED FOR HARMONIZED REGIONAL
GUIDELINES ON GM COMMODITIES. THE EC PERMANENT
REPRESENTATIVE (COMMENT: THE EC IS A FAO MEMBER. END
COMMENT) STATED THAT THE EC HAD ALREADY PROVIDED 250 MILLION
EUROS TO THE SIX AFFECTED COUNTRIES OF THE SUB REGION. SHE
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 ROME 05831 01 OF 02 031557Z
SAID THAT FIGURE INCREASED TO 328 MILLION EUROS WHEN
CONTRIBUTIONS FROM INDIVIDUAL MEMBER COUNTRIES WERE
INCLUDED. (COMMENT: FODAG CAN VERIFY USD 60 MILLION IN FOOD
AID FROM EC-EUROPEAID AND USD 314,651 FROM EC-ECHO THROUGH
WFP AND CONTRIBUTIONS FROM INDIVIDUAL EU MEMBER STATES TO
WFP AMOUNTING TO ANOTHER USD 57.41 MILLION. END COMMENT.)

4. THE MAJOR DIFFERENCE IN VIEWS CONCERNED BIOTECH FOOD
AID. AMBASSADOR HALL CITED THE U.S. EXPERIENCE, NOTING
THERE HAD BEEN NO ILL EFFECTS ON MILLIONS OF AMERICANS WHO
HAVE EATEN BIOTECH FOOD FOR YEARS, AND THE URGENT NEED TO
GET U.S. AID TO THOSE WHO ARE LIKELY TO STARVE IF NOT
PROVIDED FOOD. THE EC PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE REAFFIRMED
THE EC COMMISSIONER'S STATEMENT THAT THERE WERE NO HEALTH
PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH U.S.-APPROVED GM MAIZE VARIETIES,
BUT UNDERLINED THAT DEVELOPING COUNTRIES COULD ADOPT
WHATEVER LEGISLATION THEY SAW FIT, BASED ON THE
"PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE."

5. THE AMBASSADOR OF ZIMBABWE NOTED THAT ZIMBABWE HAD A
BIOSAFETY COUNCIL, AS A RESULT OF WHICH THE GOVERNMENT HAD
BEEN ABLE TO ASSESS THE PROPERTIES AND SAFETY OF THE FOOD
AID IN QUESTION. THEY HAD CONCLUDED THAT IT COULD BE
DISTRIBUTED AS MILLED MEAL. SHE ADDED THAT ZIMBABWE'S

UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ1239

PAGE 01 ROME 05831 02 OF 02 031557Z
ACTION EUR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AID-00 CEA-01 CIAE-00 CTME-00
USNW-00 DODE-00 ITCE-00 WHA-00 SRPP-00 EAP-00 EB-00
EXME-00 OIGO-00 E-00 UTED-00 FDRE-01 VC-00 FRB-00
HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 ITC-01 L-00
VCE-00 AC-01 NEA-00 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 OES-00 OIC-02
OMB-01 OPIC-01 PER-00 ACE-00 SP-00 SSO-00 STR-00
TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 SA-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00
NFAT-00 SAS-00 SWCI-00 /012W
------------------12042D 031826Z /38
R 031426Z DEC 02
FM AMEMBASSY ROME
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7182
INFO USDA FAS WASHDC 2455
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
USMISSION GENEVA
AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
AMEMBASSY TOKYO
AMEMBASSY GABORONE
AMEMBASSY HARARE
AMEMBASSY LILONGWE
AMEMBASSY LUANDA
AMEMBASSY LUSAKA
AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
AMEMBASSY MASERU
AMEMBASSY MBABANE
AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 ROME 05831 02 OF 02 031557Z
USDOC WASHDC
EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 ROME 005831

SIPDIS

FROM FODAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AORC AF EAID ETRD EU AF EAID ETRD EU TBIO FAO WFP FAS TBIO AORC FAO WFP FAS
SUBJECT: FODAG AMBASSADOR CONVEYS U.S. MESSAGE ON FOOD AID
AND FAMINE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

DECISION WAS BASED ON THE "NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE." GM MAIZE
WAS "NOT THEIR FIRST CHOICE" BUT THEY "HAD TO MAKE DO WITH
WHAT WAS AVAILABLE." FOR COUNTRIES IN THE REGION THAT DO
NOT HAVE BIOSAFETY COUNCILS IN PLACE, SHE STRESSED THE NEED
FOR DONOR ASSISTANCE IN HELPING THEM BUILD UP THEIR NATIONAL
CAPACITY IN THIS REGARD. SHE ADDED THAT IN THE LONGER TERM,
SADC EXPERTS HAVE DISCUSSED WORKING ON A REGION-WIDE POLICY
ON GMO'S. THE AMBASSADOR OF ZIMBABWE NOTED THAT THERE HAD
BEEN PROBLEMS IN SOME PLACES WHERE THE GOVERNMENT WAS
LETTING "TRADITIONAL LEADERSHIP" HANDLE FOOD DISTRIBUTION.
SHE STATED THAT THEY WERE GETTING FEEDBACK FROM AND LEARNING
FROM DONORS ON PROBLEMS IN THIS AREA. SHE WENT ON TO SAY
THAT THE MAJOR CHALLENGE WAS FOR FARMERS TO ACCESS INPUTS
FOR THE NEXT SEASON (PLANTING FOR WHICH HAD ALREADY BEGUN).

6. THE ITALIAN AMBASSADOR STATED THAT HIS GOVERNMENT WAS
"SENSITIVE TO THE ISSUE OF BIOTECH FOOD AID," DESPITE
"DIVERGING VIEWS IN OUR COUNTRY ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY"
AND AFFIRMED THAT AFRICA WAS A HIGH PRIORITY FOR THE
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 ROME 05831 02 OF 02 031557Z
GOVERNMENT OF ITALY. THE CANADIAN REPRESENTATIVE ASKED
SPECIFICALLY IF ZIMBABWE COULD NOT IMPROVE ACCESS TO FOOD IN
THE REGION BY LIFTING THE GRAIN BOARD'S MONOPOLY (AS HAD
BEEN DONE FOR FUEL.) THE ZIMBABWE REPRESENTATIVE REPLIED
THAT HER GOVERNMENT WAS CONSULTING WITH DONORS AND WITH THE
PRIVATE SECTOR ON SUCH ISSUES.

7. COMMENT - THIS INITIATIVE WAS MUCH APPRECIATED. U.S.
MISSION WOULD RECOMMEND IN FAVOR OF CONDUCTING SIMILAR
BRIEFINGS ON CRISES IN THE FUTURE. END COMMENT.

HALL

UNCLASSIFIED

>
2002ROME05831 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

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