Search

 

Cablegate: The Gmo Debate in Luxembourg

VZCZCXRO3921
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHLE #0558 2920946
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 190946Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY LUXEMBOURG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5625
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES

UNCLAS LUXEMBOURG 000558

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EB/TPP/ABT/BTT JACK BOBO
THE HAGUE FOR ROGER WENTZEL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR TBIO PREL PGOV LU
SUBJECT: THE GMO DEBATE IN LUXEMBOURG

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Three members of the Luxembourg government
were featured participants at a recent Greenpeace-sponsored
anti-genetically modified organisms (GMO) event. GOL
officials stated their intent to do only the absolute minimum
in order to comply with EU directives concerning GMOs, and
indicated they had no plans to change their policy of staunch
opposition to GMOs. Statements like these and the high-level
of GOL participation in this event underscore the depth of
the GOL,s willingness to pander to a highly vocal group.
END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Luxembourg Minister of Transportation and
Environment Lucien Lux and Minister of Health Mars di
Bartolomeo were joined by Secretary of State for Agriculture
Octavie Modert and MP Jean Paul Schaff at an October 8th
Greenpeace-sponsored event entitled "Luxembourg Without
GMOs." As suggested by the title, this was an unbalanced
event as every presenter and organization represented was
firmly opposed to GMOs. Most participants wanted Luxembourg
to do more to combat GMOs and invoked Luxembourg,s
UNESCO-designated World Heritage fortifications coining the
phrase "Luxembourg: A Fortress Against GMOs."

3. (SBU) Schaff, who is the MP responsible for shepherding
the co-existence legislation through Luxembourg,s Parliament
(Note: This legislation has been an ongoing work-in-progress
since 2004. End note), said that Luxembourg was not changing
its position regarding its ban on the marketing and sales of
GMOs. He said that the government was seeking a way to
placate the European Commission and implement the EU
directives regarding co-existence, but not change its
position on GMOs at all. Several speakers, including Health
Minister Bartolomeo said that they were not opposed to
biotechnology research which would benefit humans; just GMOs.
They gave no details as to how they thought this division
could be drawn.

4. (SBU) Even though GOL officials presented a unified front
at the Grenpeace event, Embassy officers spoke with an
official from the Ministry of Agriculture who told us that he
was disturbed at the one-sidedness of this conference and
even confided that he personally was undecided on GMOs. He
added that despite his concerns, he had been instructed by
his Ministry superiors to represent the GOL position as
firmly opposed to GMOs.

5. (SBU) Press reporting of the event was mostly positive,
receiving coverage in three of the four major daily
newspapers. The one notable negative exception was a radio
and newspaper editorial by former Luxembourg Minister of the
Economy and current Luxembourg MEP Robert Goebbels. In his
comments, Goebbels blasted the GOL's anti-GMO position as
anti-growth and derided the state of debate over GMOs in
Luxembourg as "ridiculous" for being completely unscientific
and dominated by groups such as Greenpeace. He applauded
efforts of those forward-looking members of Luxembourg,s
cabinet, such as Economic Minister Jeannot Krecke, to promote
biotechnology companies relocating to Luxembourg, but warned
"those companies would never come to Luxembourg when they
discovered...the GOL's anti-GMO position."

6. (SBU) COMMENT: The festive atmosphere at this event
included a satirical presentation entitled "The Genetically
Modified Peach," games and face painting for children, and a
certified GMO-free lunch. The event provided a great
opportunity for members of the GOL to cozy up to a highly
vocal group which has managed to gain a stranglehold on the
issue in Luxembourg. It is obvious that the GOL has taken
this position because it garners them the support of this
active segment of society at little political cost.
Unfortunately, the voices of those such as MEP Goebbels who
plead for a scientific debate are drowned out by this group.
Post will continue to engage with GOL decision-makers and
through its public outreach efforts to promote a more
balanced debate on GMOs.
KRAFT

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

OECD: COVID-19 Crisis Puts Migration And Progress On Integration At Risk, Says

Watch the live webcast of the press conference Migration flows have increased over the past decade and some progress has been made to improve the integration of immigrants in the host countries. But some of these gains may be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic ... More>>


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>