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Cablegate: French Sugar Beet Growers Support Biotech

VZCZCXRO2173
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHFR #4719 3481524
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 141524Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1489
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 2785
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC

UNCLAS PARIS 004719

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

BRUSSELS PASS USEU FOR AGMINCOUNSELOR
STATE FOR OES; EUR/ERA(GRAY); EEB/TPP/ABT/BTT (BOBO);
STATE PASS USTR FOR MURPHY/CLARKSON;
OCRA/CURTIS;
STA/SIMMONS/JONES/HENNEY/SISSON;
EU POSTS PASS TO AGRICULTURE AND ECON
GENEVA FOR USTR, ALSO AGRICULTURE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR SENV ECON ETRD EU FR

SUBJECT: FRENCH SUGAR BEET GROWERS SUPPORT BIOTECH

1. During its annual conference in Paris on December 4, the French
Sugar Beet Growers' Association (CGB), representing 35,000 French
sugar beet growers, openly expressed its support for biotechnology.
The chairman, Dominique Ducroquet, reiterated that in order to
remain competitive, French sugar beet growers need to have access to
all available technological improvements, including biotechnology.
The farm audience applauded this statement. Ducroquet also urged the
Minister of Agriculture, who was present, not to listen to the
"merchants of fear," a term used to describe anti-biotech NGOs.
2. Ducroquet criticized the attitude of the Government which, in his
view, listens more to NGOs ("the groups who talk") than to farm
groups and farm unions ("the groups who act"). In his speech at the
conference, Ag Minister Barnier did not mention biotech.

3. Seed companies and scientists made presentations on the benefits
of biotech. The German seed company KWS claimed its biotech programs
was able increase sugar beet yields, enhance quality and reduce
costs of production.

4. A specialist from the French Technical Institute for Sugar Beets
cautioned that, unlike in the U.S., there are wild native plants
related to the sugar beet in the EU, increasing the risk of pollen
contamination. He stated that a sterile biotech sugar beet could
address this problem. A scientist and deputy General Director from
INRA (French Agricultural Research Institute) delivered a statement
supporting biotechnology which the audience applauded, emphasizing
its potential to increase production and productivity.

5. Comment: This widely-attended (500 plus) conference was
significant as it demonstrated biotech support beyond the corn
growers. Until now, the corn farmers' union has been the most
solidly pro-biotech producers' union. End Comment.

STAPLETON

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