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Cablegate: French Agriculture Ministry Firmly Condemns Biotech Crop

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Lucia A Keegan 08/04/2006 10:01:54 AM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan

Cable
Text:


UNCLAS PARIS 05262

SIPDIS
cxparis:
ACTION: AGR
INFO: UNESCO SCI POL ECNO DCM AMB ECON TRDO

DISSEMINATION: AGRX
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: AGR: MMEADOR
DRAFTED: AGR: MCHENARD
CLEARED: EMIN: OVANMAERSSEN SCI:VBELON

VZCZCFRI431
RR RUEHC RUEHRC RUCNMEM RUEHMRE RUEHSR RUEHGV
RHEHAAA
DE RUEHFR #5262 2151403
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031403Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0085
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHMRE/AMCONSUL MARSEILLE 1237
RUEHSR/AMCONSUL STRASBOURG 0159
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2464
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC

UNCLAS PARIS 005262

SIPDIS

BRUSSELS PASS USEU FOR AGMINCOUNSELOR
STATE FOR OES; EUR/ERA AND EB (SPIRNAK);
STATE PASS USTR FOR MURPHY;
USDA/OS/JOHANNS AND PENN/TERPSTRA;
USDA/FAS FOR OA/ROBERTS/SIMMONS/JONES;
ITP/SHEIKH/HENKE/MACKE/TOM POMEROY/MIKE WOOLSEY/GREG YOUNG; BOB
RIEMENSCHNEIDER
FAA/SEBRANEK/BLEGGI;
EU POSTS PASS TO AGRICULTURE AND ECON
GENEVA FOR USTR, ALSO AGRICULTURE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD EUN FR
SUBJECT: FRENCH AGRICULTURE MINISTRY FIRMLY CONDEMNS BIOTECH CROP
DESTRUCTIONS

REF: PARIS 5154

1. On July 30, anti-biotech activists struck again in southwestern
France destroying a Pioneer biotech test plot and, for the first
time, commercial fields of biotech corn. Although activists are
continuing to express their anti-biotech stance in this manner
(reftel), we have noted that a growing number of French corn
producers are embracing the technology in 2006. The corn fields
targeted by the group of "Voluntary Cutters" (Faucheurs Volontaires)
belonged to farmers who had publicly affirmed their position in
favor of biotechnology and acknowledged that they were themselves
growing biotech corn this year.

2. While police on the scene did not stop the protesters from
destroying the biotech corn fields, they subsequently arrested and
detained five suspects and held them in custody for two days. These
protesters are likely to be brought to trial in September. More
protesters may be arrested, including the infamous activist Jose
Bove, who recently received a two month jail term for a prior
destruction.

3. Anti-biotech activists continue to be very vocal in support of
their position and receive wide coverage in the daily French press.
Nevertheless, approximately two hundred French corn growers,
representing both biotech and non-biotech interests, rallied at a
demonstration of support on Tuesday for the farmers whose biotech
fields were destroyed.

4. The French Ministry of Agriculture (MinAg) quickly issued a
press communique on July 31st condemning the acts which destroyed
biotech plots and commercial cultivation of crops which are produced
legally in France. The MinAg stated that, to date, 40 percent of
the biotech test plots authorized in 2006 have been destroyed. The
latest MinAg communique is particularly noteworthy, since before
this incident, they did not have a strong track record of condemning
such behavior.

5. The press release said that Agriculture Minister Bussereau
"strongly condemns these acts of vandalism contrary to rule of law
and to the respect for private property." He affirmed his support
to farmers and researchers who are "victims of illegal cutting."
Finally, the communiqu stated that firm instructions have been
given to local authorities to guarantee the security of biotech test
plots and that legal proceedings will be launched systematically
against those who destroy biotech crops.

6. Comment: Political tension on the issue of biotech cultivation
continues to run high in France. A biotech bill is currently
lingering in the legislative process, but further action will
probably be viewed as politically unpalatable prior to the
Presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007. In addition,
France's regional Chambers of Agriculture will be holding elections
in January 2007. The current majority at the regional Chambers is
held by the farming association FNSEA, which is not opposed to
biotech. Alternative organizations less favorable to biotech (such
as the activist Confederation Paysanne) and with differing views on
the EU's Common Agricultural Policy, could win a sizeable number of
seats in the next election, should popular opinion in France's
farming sector change. We will monitor this closely as the winter
election approaches. End Comment.

Stapleton

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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