Cablegate: Animal Cloning Attitudes in Poland

DE RUEHWR #1141/01 2731425
R 291425Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Animal Cloning Attitudes in Poland

REF: Warsaw 1114

WARSAW 00001141 001.2 OF 002

1. (SBU) Summary. This cable reports a round table discussion
Sept. 19 in Warsaw on the subject of scientists' views on animal
cloning and the food supply. January's announcement of deregulation
for clones by FDA has sparked controversy, with a vote by the
European Parliament against the technique and the use of progeny in
the food supply. Polish scientists want more information about the
United States' actions on cloning, and express support for cloning
safety, but are exasperated by the unscientific approach taken by
the politicians with oversight responsibility for food safety
issues. U.S. policymakers should be wary about potential trade
disruption for dairy and products if the United States allowed
significant amounts of products from clones and their progeny into
the food supply. Traceability is needed to keep those products from
being shipped to markets like the EU and Poland. End Summary.

2. (SBU) American Holstein Association (AHA) Vice President for
International Marketing, Dr. Gerardo Quaassdorff, met with Polish
scientists and veterinary health officials to discuss AHA's position
on cloning and what it may mean eventually to Europe. Quaassdorff
distributed AHA's guidelines for registering clones. Quaassdorff
explained the International Holstein-Friesian Association (IHFA)
would take up the issue of animal clones and likely will adopt the
position of the AHA for a clone registration at its upcoming
meetings in Ireland. Quaassdorff said that there are 150 cloned
dairy animals in the United States. Quaassdorff said cloning
already follows international (IHFA) embryo transfer protocols. He
said AHA members were not as interested in clones as they are in
genetically engineered animals (GE); members are focused on
improving genetics not preserving them. He said his industry wants
to know where clones are so they will be tracked. He said the
industry was really only interested in cloning animals for show and
then using the technique in the development of GE animals. He said
cloning would be used as a niche, in a very limited way and to
maintain a breed.

3. (SBU) Attending the meeting were Professors Edmund Dymnicki,
Chief of the Institute of Animal Genetics and Breeding of the Polish
Academy of Science, in Jastrzebiec, near Warsaw; vice director of
research from the same institute, Professor Lech Zwierzchowski;
Poland's deputy chief veterinary officer, Dr. Krzystof Jazdzewski;
and Professor Ewa Bartnik, Warsaw University, Department of Genetics
and Biotechnology. These scientists serve in the Polish Academy of
Science, are advisors to the Ministries of Agriculture and
Environment, and are unequivocal supporters of the application of
sound science in food and environmental safety. Each admires the
United States with its cutting-edge innovations in agricultural
science and frequently comments to the media.

4. (SBU) Scientists expressed relief at AHA's statement that there
were no large scale, immediate plans for cloning. They thought the
EU regulatory regime was behind and needed now to focus on
rulemaking. Scientists reported there are no cloned dairy cattle in
Poland. Their laboratories do clone pets; the Balice Institute for
Animal Breeding near Krakow has developed a non-allergenic cat.
They said Europeans already mistrust cloned plants and that public
acceptance of cloned animals will be lower. On cloned and GE
animals as bioreactors to create new medicines, they see a clear
pathway to regulatory use. They said that they agreed with FDA and
EFSA rulings on clones as safe. Anyone with an understanding of
basic biochemistry understands cloning is safe, one stated.

5. (SBU) They expressed support for the idea of cloning techniques
in species' preservation. Polish scientists use cloning to preserve
the European Bison (Bison bonasus) and in Italy the wild mountain
goat Muflon (Ovis musimon). They cautioned cloning was not a slam
dunk for preservationists since the problem with endangered animal
populations was a lack of genetic variability. Cloning provides a
tool to catalog and study methods that might lead to preservation
solutions by GE or cross breeding to maintain populations with
desperate measures, they said. Poland has plans to preserve some
cattle such as its historic Polish red. There are 400 Polish reds,
none purebred, but a large enough population that cloning and GE may
be useful, even to eliminate the crossbreeding with Danish reds that
occurred 120 years ago.

6. (SBU) Scientists expressed fatigue with the process of food
policy development in Europe. They complained about the religiosity
they face from pressure groups and politicians against new
scientific applications. They expressed concern the United States

WARSAW 00001141 002.2 OF 002

misunderstands policymaking in Europe and focuses on regulatory
rulemaking and is not pragmatic with an EU food safety system
dominated by public opinion polling. Scientists thought their
political leaders would not admit clones or progeny to the food
supply of Europe. They reacted positively to the ideas of AHA, that
cloning will be limited. They said that the announcements coming
from FDA and USDA indicate to Europeans that the US is moving ahead
quickly. They are uncomfortable with the speed the issue is hitting
Europe without preparation of the public or political mind,
recalling the 1995 introduction of GM crops or the inadvertent
release of unapproved biotechnology events in 2001. They thought
for markets negative on new agricultural science it was important to
make strong regulations in Brussels so that nations such as Poland
might face EU disciplines on its approach to clones.

7. (SBU) The greatest threat to scientific progress in cloning
today, they said, is whether clones will be regulated as genetically
modified organisms. The proposed draft Polish law on the
cultivation of plant GMO's (reftel) and the criteria for scientific
study indicates to some scientists that the Ministry of Environment
will regulate clones as GMO's. Scientists believed this regulatory
approach may prevent them from using cloning techniques and they
were being vocal to their superiors that this approach was
scientifically unjustified. The Environment Ministry regularly
rejects requests for scientific studies, overruling scientist's
recommendations. No one wanted the Ministry of Environment involved
in the issue of clones and all were overwhelmingly negative about
the Environment Ministry and its political approach to science.

8. (SBU) Dr. Quaassdorff visited September 17-19 with officials and
association representatives in Warsaw to discuss mutual recognition
of herd registers. Poland is an important, fast growing market for
U.S. dairy genetics. AHA and USDA/FAS Warsaw are creating a
strategy to overcome the additional barriers third-country livestock
genetics imports face with Poland's breeding registry law. Dr.
Quaassdorff's points on his industry's approach to cloning shows the
benefits for stakeholders in the United States to be engaged with
European scientists and that many scientists share U.S. views.
Scientists left the meeting more comfortable with the U.S. approach
to cloning and with the issue of cloning in its proper, perspective
as a niche.

9. (SBU) Europe and Poland import processed U.S. dairy products, and
here there is some need for attention. Deputy Chief Veterinary
Officer Jazdzewski said that the prospect of cloning and progeny in
the food supply was being faced for the first time. Jazdzewski
said that the issue has been ignored, but was heating up.
Agricultural Counselor asked whether U.S. non-fat dry milk and whey
powder shipments to Poland and Europe that included products from
clones and their progeny would face a shutdown if it was suspected
that clones' products were in export channels. Jazdzewski replied
U.S. industries with EU market access for animal products should
adopt traceability requirements on clones and communicate actively
about whether clones and their progeny will be in U.S. foods until
such time as they have clearance from Europe.

10. (SBU) Comment. Industry outreach might be effective if it used
well spoken producers and/or wildlife preservationists and targeted
the need for clones in GE animals for new medicines, genetic
preservation, development of human transplantation, and for
pets/show animals. Working on clones and GE animals at present
distracts from larger issues like agricultural biotechnology and the
asynchronous approval problem for U.S. soybeans. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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