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Cablegate: Bad Test Results Force Gmo Issue

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ZAGREB 000578

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EB/MTA/ATT

VIENNA FOR FAS

BUDAPEST FOR ENVIRO HUB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON ETRD SENV TBIO TSPL HR
SUBJECT: BAD TEST RESULTS FORCE GMO ISSUE

SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) THE RECENT SCANDAL AROUND THE ALLEGED PRESENCE OF
NON-APPROVED GMOS IN 14 FOOD SAMPLES HAS SPED THE ADOPTION
OF REGULATIONS ON LABELING AND APPROVAL OF GMOS AND STIRRED
PUBLIC DEBATE, EVEN THOUGH SUBSEQUENT TESTS FOUND THAT ONLY
ONE OF THE SAMPLES HAD MORE THAN ONE PERCENT GMO CONTENT.
THE GOVERNMENT HAS TRIED TO STRIKE A COMPROMISE POSITION
PUBLICLY, BY SAYING THAT IMPORTS OF GMOS WOULD BE PERMITTED,
IF LABELED, BUT THAT CROATIA WOULD REMAIN "GMO FREE" BECAUSE
SOWING OF GM CROPS WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED. THE GOVERNMENT HAS
ADOPTED THE EU-APPROVED LIST OF GM PRODUCTS AND THE EU
THRESHOLD OF 0.9 PERCENT FOR LABELING. MEANWHILE, VARIOUS
REGIONS ARE CONSIDERING FOLLOWING ISTRIA'S LEAD IN DECLARING
"GMO-FREE" ZONES. END SUMMARY.

THE STORM BREAKS
----------------

2. (U) IN FEBRUARY, CROATIAN NATIONAL TELEVISION ANNOUNCED
THAT THE FIRST TESTING OF GMO PRESENCE IN FOOD SAMPLES WAS
DONE IN AN OSIJEK (IN THE RURAL EAST OF CROATIA) FOOD
QUALITY-BIOTECHNOLOGY TESTING LABORATORY. ONE OF ONLY TWO
BIOTECH TESTING LABS IN CROATIA, THE FACILITY LACKS ISO
CERTIFICATION. IT TESTED 33 FOOD SAMPLES FOR QUALITY AND
GMO PRESENCE. IN 14 SAMPLES FROM BOTH CROATIAN AND FOREIGN
COMPANIES, IT REPORTED MORE THAN ONE PERCENT OF GMO
PRESENCE. IN ADDITION, IT DETECTED MEAT IN "VEGETARIAN"
PATE AND PORK AND BEEF IN "CHICKEN" PATE. THE GMO
"CONTAMINATED" PRODUCTS WERE SOY AND SOY PRODUCTS,
VEGETARIAN PATE, CORN FLAKES, OIL, AND CANNED CORN.

3. (U) THE STORY DOMINATED THE HEADLINES FOR SEVERAL DAYS,
AND POPPED UP INTERMITTENTLY FOR WEEKS. MOST NEWS STORIES
WERE FAIRLY MATTER-OF-FACT -- NON-LABELED GMOS HAVE BEEN
FOUND IN FOOD. SOME NEWS PROGRAMS EVEN NOTED THAT NO
HARMFUL EFFECTS OF GMOS HAD BEEN PROVEN. HOWEVER, THE MERE
FACT THAT GMOS WERE FOUND PROMPTED A PUBLIC OUTCRY. GREENS
PORTRAYED THE RESULTS AS VINDICATION OF YEARS OF DIRE
WARNINGS, AND RENEWED CALLS FOR A TOTAL BAN ON BIOTECH.
(IRONICALLY, GMOS WERE ALREADY DE FACTO BANNED. WHILE A LAW
HAD BEEN PASSED ALLOWING THE IMPORT OF GMOS ONCE REGISTERED
AND LABELED, IN THE ABSENCE OF REGULATIONS, NO PERMITS COULD
BE ISSUED.) AS A RESULT OF THE FUROR, CONSUMERS THREATENED
TO SUE COMPANIES THAT DID NOT LABEL GMOS, CONSUMER GROUPS
DEMANDED THAT THE COMPANIES IN QUESTION BE PUNISHED,
PRODUCERS THREATENED THE LAB FOR PUBLISHING PARTIAL
INFORMATION, SUPERMARKETS PLEDGED TO WITHDRAW THE FOOD
CONTAINING GMOS, AND THE SANITARY INSPECTION SERVICE
TIGHTENED UP INSPECTIONS ON THE BORDER, REQUESTING GMO-FREE
CERTIFICATES FOR FRESH PRODUCE AND COMMODITIES, TAKING
SAMPLES, ETC.

4. (SBU) A CONTACT IN PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICES HEADQUARTERS
FUMED TO US THAT THE LAB IN OSIJEK HAD ACTED IRREGULARLY AND
IRRESPONSIBLY. IN THE ABSENCE OF REGULATION OF LAST YEAR'S
FOOD LAW, THERE WERE NO GUIDELINES FOR TESTING. HE
SPECULATED THAT THE SAMPLING WAS DONE TO CREATE AN UPROAR
AND TO POLITICIZE THE ISSUE OF GMOS. HE ALSO QUESTIONED THE
VALIDITY OF THE TESTING -- CORRECTLY AS IT TURNED OUT.

5. (U) THE ZAGREB PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE INITIALLY CROSS
CHECKED 12 SAMPLES OF THE SAME PRODUCTS, BUT DIFFERENT LOTS
BECAUSE THE OSIJEK LABORATORY DID NOT WANT TO SHARE ITS
SAMPLES. ONLY ONE SAMPLE HAD MORE THAN ONE PERCENT OF GMOS,
FIVE HAD TRACES OF GMOS, AND SEVEN HAD NO GMOS. AFTER THE
ZAGREB LAB WAS FINALLY ABLE TO OBTAIN SAMPLES FROM THE
OSIJEK LAB, AN ISO-CERTIFIED LABORATORY IN BERN PROVED THAT
THE ZAGREB LABORATORY HAD THE CORRECT RESULTS AND THE OSIJEK
LABORATORY WAS WRONG.

6. (U) THE ONE PRODUCT SAMPLE WITH OVER ONE PERCENT OF GMO
PRESENCE WAS A SAUSAGE PRODUCED IN CROATIA BY A CROATIAN
SUBSIDIARY OF THE SLOVENIAN COMPANY, PERUTNINA PTUJ. THE
SAUSAGE CONTAINED SOY EXTRACT THAT WAS PROBABLY BOUGHT FROM
A DUTCH COMPANY WITH OFFICES IN ZAGREB. THE MEDIA REPORTED
THAT THE SOYBEANS WERE SOURCED FROM THE U.S.

7. (U) TWO OTHER SAMPLES COULD NOT BE CATEGORIZED AS GMO OR
GMO-FREE. ONE TESTED AT 0.76 PERCENT GMO PRESENCE IN ZAGREB
AND 1.15 PERCENT IN BERN (IT WILL BE RETESTED) AND ANOTHER
SAMPLE WAS CONTAMINATED WITH BROCCOLI VIRUS SIMILAR TO ONE
GENETIC MODIFICATION (THAT PRODUCT CONTAINS BROCCOLI AND SOY
BEANS).

ZAGREB 00000578 001.2 OF 003

IN 14 FOOD SAMPLES HAS SPED THE ADOPTION
OF REGULATIONS ON LABELING AND APPROVAL OF GMOS AND STIRRED
PUBLIC DEBATE, EVEN THOUGH SUBSEQUENT TESTS FOUND THAT ONLY
ONE OF THE SAMPLES HAD MORE THAN ONE PERCENT GMO CONTENT.
THE GOVERNMENT HAS TRIED TO STRIKE A COMPROMISE POSITION
PUBLICLY, BY SAYING THAT IMPORTS OF GMOS WOULD BE PERMITTED,
IF LABELED, BUT THAT CROATIA WOULD REMAIN "GMO FREE" BECAUSE
SOWING OF GM CROPS WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED. THE GOVERNMENT HAS
ADOPTED THE EU-APPROVED LIST OF GM PRODUCTS AND THE EU
THRESHOLD OF 0.9 PERCENT FOR LABELING. MEANWHILE, VARIOUS
REGIONS ARE CONSIDERING FOLLOWING ISTRIA'S LEAD IN DECLARING
"GMO-FREE" ZONES. END SUMMARY.

THE STORM BREAKS
----------------

2. (U) IN FEBRUARY, CROATIAN NATIONAL TELEVISION ANNOUNCED
THAT THE FIRST TESTING OF GMO PRESENCE IN FOOD SAMPLES WAS
DONE IN AN OSIJEK (IN THE RURAL EAST OF CROATIA) FOOD
QUALITY-BIOTECHNOLOGY TESTING LABORATORY. ONE OF ONLY TWO
BIOTECH TESTING LABS IN CROATIA, THE FACILITY LACKS ISO
CERTIFICATION. IT TESTED 33 FOOD SAMPLES FOR QUALITY AND
GMO PRESENCE. IN 14 SAMPLES FROM BOTH CROATIAN AND FOREIGN
COMPANIES, IT REPORTED MORE THAN ONE PERCENT OF GMO
PRESENCE. IN ADDITION, IT DETECTED MEAT IN "VEGETARIAN"
PATE AND PORK AND BEEF IN "CHICKEN" PATE. THE GMO
"CONTAMINATED" PRODUCTS WERE SOY AND SOY PRODUCTS,
VEGETARIAN PATE, CORN FLAKES, OIL, AND CANNED CORN.

3. (U) THE STORY DOMINATED THE HEADLINES FOR SEVERAL DAYS,
AND POPPED UP INTERMITTENTLY FOR WEEKS. MOST NEWS STORIES
WERE FAIRLY MATTER-OF-FACT -- NON-LABELED GMOS HAVE BEEN
FOUND IN FOOD. SOME NEWS PROGRAMS EVEN NOTED THAT NO
HARMFUL EFFECTS OF GMOS HAD BEEN PROVEN. HOWEVER, THE MERE
FACT THAT GMOS WERE FOUND PROMPTED A PUBLIC OUTCRY. GREENS
PORTRAYED THE RESULTS AS VINDICATION OF YEARS OF DIRE
WARNINGS, AND RENEWED CALLS FOR A TOTAL BAN ON BIOTECH.
(IRONICALLY, GMOS WERE ALREADY DE FACTO BANNED. WHILE A LAW
HAD BEEN PASSED ALLOWING THE IMPORT OF GMOS ONCE REGISTERED
AND LABELED, IN THE ABSENCE OF REGULATIONS, NO PERMITS COULD
BE ISSUED.) AS A RESULT OF THE FUROR, CONSUMERS THREATENED
TO SUE COMPANIES THAT DID NOT LABEL GMOS, CONSUMER GROUPS
DEMANDED THAT THE COMPANIES IN QUESTION BE PUNISHED,
PRODUCERS THREATENED THE LAB FOR PUBLISHING PARTIAL
INFORMATION, SUPERMARKETS PLEDGED TO WITHDRAW THE FOOD
CONTAINING GMOS, AND THE SANITARY INSPECTION SERVICE
TIGHTENED UP INSPECTIONS ON THE BORDER, REQUESTING GMO-FREE
CERTIFICATES FOR FRESH PRODUCE AND COMMODITIES, TAKING
SAMPLES, ETC.

4. (SBU) A CONTACT IN PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICES HEADQUARTERS
FUMED TO US THAT THE LAB IN OSIJEK HAD ACTED IRREGULARLY AND
IRRESPONSIBLY. IN THE ABSENCE OF REGULATION OF LAST YEAR'S
FOOD LAW, THERE WERE NO GUIDELINES FOR TESTING. HE
SPECULATED THAT THE SAMPLING WAS DONE TO CREATE AN UPROAR
AND TO POLITICIZE THE ISSUE OF GMOS. HE ALSO QUESTIONED THE
VALIDITY OF THE TESTING -- CORRECTLY AS IT TURNED OUT.

5. (U) THE ZAGREB PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE INITIALLY CROSS
CHECKED 12 SAMPLES OF THE SAME PRODUCTS, BUT DIFFERENT LOTS
BECAUSE THE OSIJEK LABORATORY DID NOT WANT TO SHARE ITS
SAMPLES. ONLY ONE SAMPLE HAD MORE THAN ONE PERCENT OF GMOS,
FIVE HAD TRACES OF GMOS, AND SEVEN HAD NO GMOS. AFTER THE
ZAGREB LAB WAS FINALLY ABLE TO OBTAIN SAMPLES FROM THE
OSIJEK LAB, AN ISO-CERTIFIED LABORATORY IN BERN PROVED THAT
THE ZAGREB LABORATORY HAD THE CORRECT RESULTS AND THE OSIJEK
LABORATORY WAS WRONG.

6. (U) THE ONE PRODUCT SAMPLE WITH OVER ONE PERCENT OF GMO
PRESENCE WAS A SAUSAGE PRODUCED IN CROATIA BY A CROATIAN
SUBSIDIARY OF THE SLOVENIAN COMPANY, PERUTNINA PTUJ. THE
SAUSAGE CONTAINED SOY EXTRACT THAT WAS PROBABLY BOUGHT FROM
A DUTCH COMPANY WITH OFFICES IN ZAGREB. THE MEDIA REPORTED
THAT THE SOYBEANS WERE SOURCED FROM THE U.S.

7. (U) TWO OTHER SAMPLES COULD NOT BE CATEGORIZED AS GMO OR
GMO-FREE. ONE TESTED AT 0.76 PERCENT GMO PRESENCE IN ZAGREB
AND 1.15 PERCENT IN BERN (IT WILL BE RETESTED) AND ANOTHER
SAMPLE WAS CONTAMINATED WITH BROCCOLI VIRUS SIMILAR TO ONE
GENETIC MODIFICATION (THAT PRODUCT CONTAINS BROCCOLI AND SOY
BEANS).

ZAGREB 00000578 002.1 OF 003

HAVE FULL LABELING
AND REGISTRATION REGULATIONS IN PLACE, IMPORTERS SAY THEIR
CUSTOMERS (ESPECIALLY SUPERMARKETS) ARE ASKING FOR PROOF
THAT PRODUCTS ARE GMO-FREE AND BORDER INSPECTORS ARE
REQUESTING LAB CERTIFICATES THAT IMPORTS ARE GMO FREE. THIS
IS A PROBLEM FOR INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES WHICH SOURCE THEIR
INPUTS ON WORLD MARKETS WHERE IT IS CUSTOMARY TO ACCEPT A
STATEMENT FROM A SUPPLIER THAT THE PRODUCT IS GMO-FREE.
THEY ONLY REQUEST A LAB CERTIFICATE IF THEY DISCOVER THAT
THE SUPPLIER IS NOT RELIABLE.

9. (U) EVEN SOME CROATIAN EXPORTERS HAVE TO GIVE GMO-FREE
CERTIFICATES TO THEIR FOREIGN CUSTOMERS. ONE EXAMPLE IS A
SLOVENIAN COOKING OIL FACTORY THAT IS ASKING ITS CROATIAN
SUPPLIER TO CERTIFY ITS SUNFLOWER OIL AS GMO-FREE, DESPITE
THE FACT THAT THERE ARE NO GMO SUNFLOWERS BEING
COMMERCIALIZED.

THE GOVERNMENT'S NEXT STEPS
---------------------------

10. (U) THE COMPANY THAT PRODUCED THE SAUSAGE WITH GMO
PRESENCE HAD TO WITHDRAW IT FROM THE MARKET (THEY DID SO
VOLUNTARILY), AND MAY BE PUNISHED FOR NOT LABELING GMO
PRESENCE, FOR WHICH FINES ARE SEVERE. IN THEIR FAVOR IS THE
FACT THAT THERE WERE NO REGULATIONS THAT ESTABLISHED
THRESHOLDS, DETAILS OF LABELING, OR TESTING REQUIREMENTS.

11. (U) IN REACTION TO THE UPROAR, THE CROATIAN GOVERNMENT
SPED UP THE PROCEDURE OF FORMING THE FOOD AGENCY AND QUICKLY
DRAFTED REGULATIONS FOR GMO LABELING AND THRESHOLDS.
REGULATIONS ON REQUIREMENTS FOR BIOTECH TESTING LABS WILL BE
PREPARED WITHIN A MONTH, AND PROCEDURES ON "NOVELTY FOOD
APPROVALS" IN SIX MONTHS.

12. (U) AT ITS MARCH 12 SESSION, THE GOVERNMENT ADOPTED
THE REGULATION ON THE LEVEL OF GMO IN PRODUCTS PLACED ON
THE MARKET. THIS REGULATION STIPULATES THAT PRODUCTS
CONTAINING ACCIDENTAL OR TECHNOLOGICALLY UNAVOIDABLE TRACES
OF ALLOWED GMO AT THE LEVEL OF 0.9 PERCENT OR LESS IN A
PRODUCT OF ONE INGREDIENT, OR 0.9 PERCENT OR LESS OF
ALLOWED GMO OF EACH INGREDIENT OF THE PRODUCT, NEED NOT BE
MARKED AS PRODUCTS CONTAINING GMO. AN EXCEPTION TO THIS
THRESHOLD IS REPRODUCTIVE PLANT MATERIAL (SEED) CONTAINING
GMO IN ANY AMOUNT, WHICH MUST BE MARKED.

13. (U) UNTIL ALL IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS ON PERMISSION
TO PLACE GMOS AND PRODUCTS CONTAINING GMOS ON THE MARKET IN
THE CROATIA ARE ADOPTED, ONLY THE EU-APPROVED LIST OF 15
VARIETIES OF SOY, CORN, RAPESEED AND COTTON ARE PERMITTED.

STRANGE DEFINITION OF "GMO-FREE"
--------------------------------

14. (SBU) CROATIAN HEALTH MINISTER ANDRIJA HEBRANG, WHO IS
ALSO THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER FOR THE ECONOMY, COMMENTED,
"THE POSITION OF THE GOVERNMENT IS THAT CROATIA MUST BE A
GMO-FREE COUNTRY AND GMO PRODUCTS WILL NOT BE PRODUCED IN
CROATIA. THOSE IMPORTED FROM ABROAD MUST BE SUBJECT TO
STRINGENT CHECKS." HOWEVER, THERE IS NO LEGAL WAY TO
DECLARE THE COUNTRY OR A REGION "GMO-FREE," ALTHOUGH THE LAW
ON PROTECTION OF NATURE DOES HAVE PROVISIONS TO DECLARE
CERTAIN AREAS GMO-FREE TO PROTECT NATURE PRESERVES, TOURISM
OR ORGANIC PRODUCTION. THAT DID NOT STOPPED ISTRIA COUNTY
FROM DECLARING ITSELF "GMO-FREE" LAST YEAR. AT THE TIME,
THE COUNTY PREFECT SHEEPISHLY ADMITTED TO US THAT HE HAD NO
LEGAL BASIS TO DO SO, AND NO WAY TO ENFORCE IT. BUT "IT'S A
TYPE OF MARKETING," HE DECLARED. POZESKO-SLAVONSKA AND
KRAPINSKO-AAGORSKA COUNTIES FOLLOWED SUIT. RECENTLY EIGHT
HSS (CROATIAN PEASANT'S PARTY) COUNTRY PREFECTS SUGGESTED
TO THEIR COUNTY ASSEMBLIES TO DECLARE GMO-FREE ZONES AS
WELL.

COMMENT
-------

15. (SBU) WHILE THE OSIJEK LAB WAS SHOWN TO BE INCOMPETENT,
IT IS LIKELY THAT THE FOES OF BIOTECHNOLOGY SCORED PUBLIC
RELATIONS POINTS, AT LEAST IN THE SHORT-TERM. AT THE MARCH
12 GOVERNMENT MEETING, THE CABINET DECIDED TO BASE THE NEW
FOOD AGENCY -- WHICH WILL APPROVE NEW BIOTECH PRODUCTS FOR
MARKETING -- IN OSIJEK. THE GENESIS OF THIS DECISION WAS
NOT ENTIRELY RELATED TO THE GMO-TESTING ISSUE -- THERE HAS

ZAGREB 00000578 002.2 OF 003

HAVE FULL LABELING
AND REGISTRATION REGULATIONS IN PLACE, IMPORTERS SAY THEIR
CUSTOMERS (ESPECIALLY SUPERMARKETS) ARE ASKING FOR PROOF
THAT PRODUCTS ARE GMO-FREE AND BORDER INSPECTORS ARE
REQUESTING LAB CERTIFICATES THAT IMPORTS ARE GMO FREE. THIS
IS A PROBLEM FOR INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES WHICH SOURCE THEIR
INPUTS ON WORLD MARKETS WHERE IT IS CUSTOMARY TO ACCEPT A
STATEMENT FROM A SUPPLIER THAT THE PRODUCT IS GMO-FREE.
THEY ONLY REQUEST A LAB CERTIFICATE IF THEY DISCOVER THAT
THE SUPPLIER IS NOT RELIABLE.

9. (U) EVEN SOME CROATIAN EXPORTERS HAVE TO GIVE GMO-FREE
CERTIFICATES TO THEIR FOREIGN CUSTOMERS. ONE EXAMPLE IS A
SLOVENIAN COOKING OIL FACTORY THAT IS ASKING ITS CROATIAN
SUPPLIER TO CERTIFY ITS SUNFLOWER OIL AS GMO-FREE, DESPITE
THE FACT THAT THERE ARE NO GMO SUNFLOWERS BEING
COMMERCIALIZED.

THE GOVERNMENT'S NEXT STEPS
---------------------------

10. (U) THE COMPANY THAT PRODUCED THE SAUSAGE WITH GMO
PRESENCE HAD TO WITHDRAW IT FROM THE MARKET (THEY DID SO
VOLUNTARILY), AND MAY BE PUNISHED FOR NOT LABELING GMO
PRESENCE, FOR WHICH FINES ARE SEVERE. IN THEIR FAVOR IS THE
FACT THAT THERE WERE NO REGULATIONS THAT ESTABLISHED
THRESHOLDS, DETAILS OF LABELING, OR TESTING REQUIREMENTS.

11. (U) IN REACTION TO THE UPROAR, THE CROATIAN GOVERNMENT
SPED UP THE PROCEDURE OF FORMING THE FOOD AGENCY AND QUICKLY
DRAFTED REGULATIONS FOR GMO LABELING AND THRESHOLDS.
REGULATIONS ON REQUIREMENTS FOR BIOTECH TESTING LABS WILL BE
PREPARED WITHIN A MONTH, AND PROCEDURES ON "NOVELTY FOOD
APPROVALS" IN SIX MONTHS.

12. (U) AT ITS MARCH 12 SESSION, THE GOVERNMENT ADOPTED
THE REGULATION ON THE LEVEL OF GMO IN PRODUCTS PLACED ON
THE MARKET. THIS REGULATION STIPULATES THAT PRODUCTS
CONTAINING ACCIDENTAL OR TECHNOLOGICALLY UNAVOIDABLE TRACES
OF ALLOWED GMO AT THE LEVEL OF 0.9 PERCENT OR LESS IN A
PRODUCT OF ONE INGREDIENT, OR 0.9 PERCENT OR LESS OF
ALLOWED GMO OF EACH INGREDIENT OF THE PRODUCT, NEED NOT BE
MARKED AS PRODUCTS CONTAINING GMO. AN EXCEPTION TO THIS
THRESHOLD IS REPRODUCTIVE PLANT MATERIAL (SEED) CONTAINING
GMO IN ANY AMOUNT, WHICH MUST BE MARKED.

13. (U) UNTIL ALL IMPLEMENTING REGULATIONS ON PERMISSION
TO PLACE GMOS AND PRODUCTS CONTAINING GMOS ON THE MARKET IN
THE CROATIA ARE ADOPTED, ONLY THE EU-APPROVED LIST OF 15
VARIETIES OF SOY, CORN, RAPESEED AND COTTON ARE PERMITTED.

STRANGE DEFINITION OF "GMO-FREE"
--------------------------------

14. (SBU) CROATIAN HEALTH MINISTER ANDRIJA HEBRANG, WHO IS
ALSO THE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER FOR THE ECONOMY, COMMENTED,
"THE POSITION OF THE GOVERNMENT IS THAT CROATIA MUST BE A
GMO-FREE COUNTRY AND GMO PRODUCTS WILL NOT BE PRODUCED IN
CROATIA. THOSE IMPORTED FROM ABROAD MUST BE SUBJECT TO
STRINGENT CHECKS." HOWEVER, THERE IS NO LEGAL WAY TO
DECLARE THE COUNTRY OR A REGION "GMO-FREE," ALTHOUGH THE LAW
ON PROTECTION OF NATURE DOES HAVE PROVISIONS TO DECLARE
CERTAIN AREAS GMO-FREE TO PROTECT NATURE PRESERVES, TOURISM
OR ORGANIC PRODUCTION. THAT DID NOT STOPPED ISTRIA COUNTY
FROM DECLARING ITSELF "GMO-FREE" LAST YEAR. AT THE TIME,
THE COUNTY PREFECT SHEEPISHLY ADMITTED TO US THAT HE HAD NO
LEGAL BASIS TO DO SO, AND NO WAY TO ENFORCE IT. BUT "IT'S A
TYPE OF MARKETING," HE DECLARED. POZESKO-SLAVONSKA AND
KRAPINSKO-AAGORSKA COUNTIES FOLLOWED SUIT. RECENTLY EIGHT
HSS (CROATIAN PEASANT'S PARTY) COUNTRY PREFECTS SUGGESTED
TO THEIR COUNTY ASSEMBLIES TO DECLARE GMO-FREE ZONES AS
WELL.

COMMENT
-------

15. (SBU) WHILE THE OSIJEK LAB WAS SHOWN TO BE INCOMPETENT,
IT IS LIKELY THAT THE FOES OF BIOTECHNOLOGY SCORED PUBLIC
RELATIONS POINTS, AT LEAST IN THE SHORT-TERM. AT THE MARCH
12 GOVERNMENT MEETING, THE CABINET DECIDED TO BASE THE NEW
FOOD AGENCY -- WHICH WILL APPROVE NEW BIOTECH PRODUCTS FOR
MARKETING -- IN OSIJEK. THE GENESIS OF THIS DECISION WAS
NOT ENTIRELY RELATED TO THE GMO-TESTING ISSUE -- THERE HAS

ZAGREB 00000578 003.1 OF 003

IN THE RURAL EAST.
HOWEVER, THE GOVERNMENT ALSO FELT A NEED TO PLACATE THE
PUBLIC AND LOCAL OFFICIALS IN EASTERN CROATIA.

16. (SBU) EVEN WHILE MORE AND MORE CROATIANS MAY HAVE SOME
UNDERSTANDING THAT GMOS ARE NOT HARMFUL, THEY WANT TO KNOW
IF GMOS ARE IN THEIR FOOD, AND IF POSSIBLE, TO AVOID THEM.
WHILE THE GOVERNMENT DECISION TECHNICALLY OPENS THE MARKET
TO EU-APPROVED VARIETIES, WE DOUBT THAT LABELED GMOS WILL BE
APPEARING ON SUPERMARKET SHELVES ANY TIME SOON, ALTHOUGH
THEY MAY BE MAKING A (REPEAT) APPEARANCE IN FEED LOTS.

FRANK

ZAGREB 00000578 003.2 OF 003

IN THE RURAL EAST.
HOWEVER, THE GOVERNMENT ALSO FELT A NEED TO PLACATE THE
PUBLIC AND LOCAL OFFICIALS IN EASTERN CROATIA.

16. (SBU) EVEN WHILE MORE AND MORE CROATIANS MAY HAVE SOME
UNDERSTANDING THAT GMOS ARE NOT HARMFUL, THEY WANT TO KNOW
IF GMOS ARE IN THEIR FOOD, AND IF POSSIBLE, TO AVOID THEM.
WHILE THE GOVERNMENT DECISION TECHNICALLY OPENS THE MARKET
TO EU-APPROVED VARIETIES, WE DOUBT THAT LABELED GMOS WILL BE
APPEARING ON SUPERMARKET SHELVES ANY TIME SOON, ALTHOUGH
THEY MAY BE MAKING A (REPEAT) APPEARANCE IN FEED LOTS.

FRANK

NNNN

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