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Cablegate: Genetically Modified Organism Law Enacted in Mali

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DE RUEHBP #0920 3361218
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011218Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAMAKO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9813
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BAMAKO 000920

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BTIO EAGR PGOV TBIO ML
SUBJECT: GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISM LAW ENACTED IN MALI

1. On November 13, the Malian National Assembly passed
legislation regulating the use of genetically modified
organisms (GMOs) in Mali. Originally submitted to the
Assembly in 2006, the GMO legislation had sparked controversy
due to the complexity of the issue and the opposition of
Mali's well-organized anti-globalization movement. Prior to
the bill's passage last week, the Malian government actively
reached out to Mali's main anti-globalization advocate,
former Minister of Culture Aminata Dramane Traore, to address
and alleviate concerns that had previously kept the GMO bill
from reaching the Assembly floor for a vote. The measure
passed in the Assembly with 108 deputies voting in favor and
20 others voting against.

2. Passage of the GMO legislation is a step toward helping
Mali's ailing cotton sector match advances achieved in
neighboring Burkina Faso, which passed a law enabling the use
of GMOs in 2006. Mali's former Minister of Agriculture
visited Burkina in 2006 and left impressed that neither
pesticides nor herbicides were needed for raising modified Bt
cotton. The Minister subsequently pushed for the Malian
National Assembly to adopt GMO legislation similar to
Burkina's in order to cut costs and increase profits for
cotton producers.

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3. Mali's active anti-globalization movement successfully
derailed the GMO issue in Mali for several years. In 2006,
however, anti-globalization leader Traore agreed to join a
government committee charged with examining the GMO issue.
Traore's presence on the committee, and the resulting
recommendations, adequately addressed the anti-GMO forces'
fears, resulting in easy passage of the bill with the vote
falling along party, rather than rural-urban, lines.

4. The new law is based almost entirely on the African
Union's Model Law on Safety in Biotechnology and the
Cartegena Protocols. It is one of the largest pieces of
legislation ever enacted in Mali, comprised of 18 pages for
the law and another 17 pages of annexes. The law permits use
of GMOs in Mali only after strict testing has been completed
and the results are reviewed by the Ministry of the
Environment. It is unclear whether Mali currently possesses
the technical expertise or equipment needed to effectively
evaluate GMOs as is now required.
MILOVANOVIC

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