US embassy cable - 04MADRID513

BIOTECH OUTREACH PROPOSAL: HIGHLIGHTING SPAIN'S BT CORN SUCCESS STORY

Identifier: 04MADRID513
Wikileaks: View 04MADRID513 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Madrid
Created: 2004-02-13 12:50:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: ECON TBIO TSPL ETRD SENV EAGR KPAL SP Trade Issues
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


 
UNCLAS MADRID 000513 
 
SIPDIS 
 
FOR EB/TPP/ABT/BTT - DEBORAH MALAC AND JACK BOBO 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ECON, TBIO, TSPL, ETRD, SENV, EAGR, KPAL, SP, Trade Issues 
SUBJECT: BIOTECH OUTREACH PROPOSAL: HIGHLIGHTING SPAIN'S BT 
CORN SUCCESS STORY 
 
REF: STATE 15050 
 
1. In response to reftel, Embassy's Biotechnology Working 
Group would like to propose creating a video to record and 
widely disseminate Spain's positive experience with planting 
and commercializing Bt corn.  While local estimates for 
executing our project proposal are likely too high to be 
completely funded with EB's anticipated FY2004 public 
diplomacy money, we offer a couple of ideas on how to proceed 
if there is sufficient interest. 
 
SPAIN AND Bt CORN: A SUCCESS STORY 
 
2. Spain is the only country in the EU planting Bt corn 
commercially (for feed).  The GOS first approved a Bt variety 
for planting in 1998, largely to combat losses inflicted by 
the European Corn Borer (ECB), and followed with approval of 
five additional varieties in 2003.  Nine further approvals 
are reportedly forthcoming.  The GOS originally limited 
planting surface to 25,000 hectares, but raised the level in 
2003 to 50,000 hectares.  A total of 32,000 hectares were 
planted in 2003, and the number is expected to rise this 
year. 
 
3. Spain's experience is not only novel in that Bt corn has 
been planted and commercialized here for over 5 years with 
minimal opposition, but also in that there are no known cases 
of Spanish farmers who have suffered losses or damages 
because of "contamination" of their grain.  Spanish corn 
traders have devised ways to ensure that the corn grain they 
buy in Spain has less than 0.1% GM content, including 
agreements with individual co-ops, a system of tracking the 
product starting from the seed invoice to the farmer, and an 
agreement with the Swiss company Societe Generale de 
Surveillance (SGS) to carry out testing and certification at 
various steps in the commercialization chain.  In other 
words, Spain has dealt successfully with coexistence issues 
even in the absence of formal coexistence regulations sought 
by some EU member states.  And they have done it while 
maintaining what many farmers have found to be a commercial 
advantage of Bt over non-Bt corn. 
 
PROPOSAL: SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS 
 
4. Our idea is to disseminate the message of Spain's success 
by creating a short video recounting the history of Spain's 
planting and commercialization of Bt corn and highlighting 
the perspective of the farmers and traders involved.  We 
believe that we would have cooperative Spanish partners in 
ASAJA, the main farmers union, CESFAC, the Feed Compounders 
Association, AGPME, the Corn Growers Association, FIAB, the 
Food and Beverage Industry Association, and, perhaps, the 
Spanish central and/or local governments.  The video would be 
filmed in Spanish, making it a useful tool for Embassies in 
Latin America in educating farmers, traders, NGOs and 
government officials on Spain's experience.  With subtitling, 
Embassies in Africa and Asia could do likewise. 
 
5. Local estimates for filming and editing a fifteen minute 
video ranged between 17,000-24,000 Euros for a high quality 
studio product and approximately 5,000 Euros for an amateur 
version.  While it may not be possible to fund the project 
exclusively out of EB public diplomacy monies, regional 
bureaus or other agencies (USTR, Agriculture) may be 
interested in pitching in.  We could also approach the 
Spanish government to co-fund, particularly given the 
product's potential utility in Latin America. 
 
6. Embassy would be happy to work with Washington on this 
project. 
MANZANARES 

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