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Cablegate: President Did Not Veto Gmo Provisions in Health Code

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHQT #2928 3341319
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301319Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY QUITO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5797
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 6219
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2195
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV LIMA 1192
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL 1501

UNCLAS QUITO 002928

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/AND AND EB/TPP/ABT
USTR FOR BENNETT HARMAN
USDA/FAS/OA/BIOTECH
USDA/APHIS/BRS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD EAGR PGOV EC
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT DID NOT VETO GMO PROVISIONS IN HEALTH CODE

REF: Quito 2698

1. (U) Summary and action request. President Palacio did not veto
the GMO provisions of the draft Health Code, which is expected to
enter into force in mid to late December. Post will work with the
private sector and interested GOE agencies to develop implementing
regulations that do not impede trade in GMO products. Post requests
Washington support in identifying experts to visit Ecuador to
discuss the regulatory process to approve foods that include GMO
products. End summary and action request.

2. (U) President Palacio declined to veto provisions in Ecuador's
draft Health Code that would require regulation of foods that
include genetically modified organisms. As noted in reftel, several
provisions of the Health Code require certification that foods
containing GMOs be certified as safe before they can be imported,
sold or accepted as food aid. In addition, the code requires that
labeling for GMO foods.

3. (SBU) EconCons and AgAttache raised U.S. concerns with the
Ministers of Commerce on November 9 and on November 13 with the
Minister of Health and the Acting Minister of Agriculture. All
expressed concerns that the GMO provisions would disrupt trade, and
that they would recommend to President Palacio that he veto
provisions.

4. (SBU) Subsequently, post heard from industry and GOE contacts
that President Palacio expressed reservations about vetoing the GMO
provisions, and requested information about the safety of GMO food
products. Post provided Ministries of Commerce and Agricultural
information prepared by the WHO and FAO explaining the regulatory
process for establishing the safety of GMO products. Time
constraints precluded a visit by USG experts.

5. (SBU) A Ministry of Commerce contact confirmed that President
Palacio was not persuaded by the arguments made by his cabinet and
declined to veto the GMO provisions because of his concerns about
the safety of GMO foods.

6. (U) President Palacio did veto some other provisions in the
Health Code and returned it to Congress November 24. Congress has
up to 30 days to react to those changes, and Congress's decision
will be the final hurdle for the Health Code. Therefore we expect
the Code will enter into force in mid to late December. The
administration has 90 days to develop the implementing regulations,
although this time span will cross over into the incoming
administration, which will take office January 15.

7. (U) Post will work with the private sector and interested GOE
agencies to encourage regulations that will not impede trade of GMO
products. We will also work with them to urge that trade not be
disrupted in the interim between the Health Code entering into force
and the issuance of implementing regulations.

8. (U) Action request. Visits by experts on the GMO regulatory
process would be helpful as Ecuador develops implementing
regulations for the Health Code. Post would appreciate USDA and
Department assistance in identifying experts who could explain to
Ecuadorian government and private sector officials (and, possibly,
the media) international regulatory experiences in approving GMO
food products. Post would also appreciate Washington agencies
assistance in identifying data that can be share with GOE agencies
to demonstrate the GMO products are safe.

Jewell

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