Cablegate: Bogota Proposal for Biotech Outreach Funds


DE RUEHBO #0126/01 0141821
R 141819Z JAN 10



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 09 STATE 122732

1. SUMMARY: Per reftel A, Embassy Bogota requests the Bureau of
Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs (EEB) fund a
Spanish-speaking U.S. expert on biotech policy to engage Colombian
Congressional members and the private sector on the safety of
biotechnology and its advantages for developing countries like
Colombia. Post also suggests a second speaker with technical
knowledge of tropical agriculture for an academic program. A
visit in 2010 by both speakers will accomplish the following three
goals: 1) engage Colombian congressional representatives on the
safety of biotechnology and on developing biotech-friendly
legislation; 2) expand outreach to the private sector at Colombia's
largest agricultural conference in Medellin; and 3) promote
scientific exchanges with academic and research sectors on
biotechnology development for tropical agriculture. END SUMMARY.

2. Embassy Bogota requests biotech speakers to visit Colombia and
speak on policy and technology related issues. Post wishes to
engage members of the Colombian congress who are key voices when it
comes to votes on issues like labeling requirements and other
restrictions on biotech goods. We also seek to promote exchanges
with the private sector and agricultural research organizations in
Colombia, who are most supportive of biotech development.

3. Post's priority is to target policy-makers in small group
discussions. A secondary priority is to work with Colombian
research institutions on biotechnology development for tropical
crops that are of more importance to Colombia than traditional
biotech crops such as corn. A third priority is for a U.S. speaker
to attend and deliver a presentation at Colombia's largest
agriculture convention, AgroFuturo - an annual event sponsored by
the Ministry of Agriculture, where the speaker can discuss the
benefits of biotechnology to a larger and broader audience. This
three-pronged approach supports USG and Post economic policy
objectives by helping to develop a biotechnology legal framework
that has the potential to open new markets for U.S. exporters, and
the potential to increase Colombia's capacity to meet its food
security needs. Upon approval, Post will work on identifying
specific speaker candidates in coordination with the Department and
the USDA Biotechnology Office. The Foreign Agricultural Service
(FAS) is able to cost-share by providing representational funds for
events and meals.

4. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM: Colombian lawmakers' knowledge of
biotechnology is limited and local policymakers are subject to the
influence of consumer and environmental activists, who oppose
implementation and expansion of science-based biotechnology in
Colombia. Legislation to mandate labeling of genetically-modified
organisms (GMO) products and byproducts was defeated in both 2008
and 2009. If approved, however, this legislation would create a
restrictive legal framework for production, trade, and distribution
of biotech goods. This proposed legislation adversely affects
trade (especially imports) of biotech products, impacting key U.S.
GMO exports such as corn, soybeans and products made from these
commodities. A U.S. biotech speaker could expose anti-biotech
lawmakers to the safety of GMOs and their economic benefits.

5. Recently NGO's have been pushing harder for stronger
biotechnology regulations largely because of an incident in late
2008 involving an estimated 13 percent loss in cotton production.
The cotton crop in Colombia's northern coast was damaged by a pest
outbreak which was supposed to have been controlled by DP 164 seed,
sold by Monsanto. Producers accused Monsanto of selling bad GMO
seed. The controversy is still being debated in court. In
response, the GOC issued Resolution 682 demanding that GMO seed
companies adopt a life-cycle-stewardship program for producers.

6. COST: The speaker program would utilize funds from EEB as well
as contributions from the Foreign Agricultural Service for event
space and meals. Estimated total cost of this program is USD
15,622 which includes transportation, lodging, and interpretation
for speakers (if needed). However, FAS will cover $1500 of that
cost for meeting rooms and other miscellaneous expenses and
interpretation costs, estimated at $4500, will be zero if the
speaker is fluent in Spanish. Breakdown is as follows:

Speaker to engage Colombian congress members and address AgroFuturo

Transportation: USD 2,000 (R/T flight US-Bogota-US)

Local Travel: (R/T most likely to Medellin): USD 750

Per Diem: USD 360/day X 3 days: 1,080 USD; 411 USD for 2 travel
days: USD 1,491

Honorarium: USD 250 per day (3 program days and 2 preparation
days): USD 1,250

Interpretation (USD 750/day): USD 2,250 (as needed)

Interpretation. Equip: (USD 150/day): USD 450

Miscellaneous (FAS): (Meeting Room/invitations): USD 750

Total: USD 8,941; (Spanish speaker + FAS contributions, Total is
USD: 5,491)

Second Speaker for Agricultural/Scientific Exchange:

Transportation: USD 2,000 (R/T US-Bogota)

Per Diem: USD 360/day X 2 days: 720; 411 USD for 2 travel days: USD

Honorarium: USD 250/day (2 program days and 2 preparation days):
USD 1,000

Interpretation (USD 750/day): USD 1,500 (as needed)

Int. Equip: (USD 150/day): USD 300

Miscellaneous (FAS): (Meeting Room/invitations): USD 750

Total: USD 6,681; (Spanish speaker + FAS contributions, Total is
USD: 4,131)

7. TIME FRAME: Post is looking for the most qualified speaker on
biotech policy. Optimally, Post would like to have a speaker visit
in June 2010 to reach congressional members on recess as well as
attend AgroFuturo, one of the largest agricultural policy fora in
Colombia. A more technically-oriented speaker program to reach out
to the scientific community on the prospects of biotechnology for
tropical agriculture could take place at any time during the year.

speaker program on biotechnology will directly support Post's goals
of increasing bilateral economic ties and scientific cooperation.
It will also complement proposed activities under a bilateral
Science and Technology Agreement, scheduled to be signed in early
2010. The program contributes to the Enhanced Economic Engagement
initiative outlined in Post's MSP FY 2011 under "Promoting Economic
Growth and Security".

9. This speaker program could help encourage the creation of a
legal and scientific environment where new biotech products can
thrive. The development of a favorable biotech environment can
increase and open new markets for U.S. exporters, and help Colombia
increase its food security, especially on the Pacific coast where
malnutrition is common.

10. AUDIENCE: The speaker will primarily address policy-makers
such as representatives from the House and Senate; Ministries of
Agriculture, Environment, Energy, Social Protection, Commerce and
Foreign Affairs; the Colombian Institute of Science (Colciencias),
and the Colombian Institute for Agriculture (ICA). In addition,
the speaker will also address a broader audience at the AgroFuturo

forum. If funded, a second speaker will meet with biotech industry
associations such as Agrobio, and private research institutions
like CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture) and
Cenica????a (a sugarcane research center).

11. IIP INVOLVEMENT: Funding will come from the EEB Biotech Fund
through the IIP (International Information Programs) speaker
program, except for meeting room and miscellaneous costs which will
be covered by FAS. Post will coordinate activities in-country and
assist in selecting speakers.

12. LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS: Fluent Spanish strongly preferred.

13. POST CONTACT INFORMATION: ECON Program Officer is Kristin
Haworth; Email address:; Telephone number:
011-57-383-2451; Cell phone number: 320-488-0231. FAS Program
Officer: Todd Drennan; Email address:;
Telephone number: 011-57-315-2033; Cell phone number: 320-498-4250.

© Scoop Media

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