US embassy cable - 01VATICAN3621

VATICAN - POST WORKS TO BUILD CONSENSUS ON AG- SCIENCE ETHICS UNCLASSIFIED

Identifier: 01VATICAN3621
Wikileaks: View 01VATICAN3621 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Vatican
Created: 2001-07-09 16:02:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: TBIO EAGR ETRD PGOV EAGR ETRD PGOV VT VTTBIO Biotechnology
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 SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 003621 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/WE, EUR/PD/PA 
 
FROM EMBASSY VATICAN/MESSAGE NO. 113/01 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: TBIO, EAGR, ETRD, PGOV, EAGR, ETRD, PGOV, VT, VTTBIO, Biotechnology 
SUBJECT: VATICAN - POST WORKS TO BUILD CONSENSUS ON AG- 
SCIENCE ETHICS 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  03621  01 OF 02  091519Z 
 
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SUMMARY 
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1.   THE VATICAN'S CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM ABOUT BIOTECHNOLOGY WAS 
GIVEN A BOOST BY A JULY 5 MEETING POST ORGANIZED BETWEEN 
SENIOR GOVERNMENT EXPERTS AND DR. CHANNAPATNA PRAKASH, 
PROFESSOR OF PLANT MOLECULAR GENETICS AT TUSKEGEE 
UNIVERSITY, ALABAMA AND MEMBER OF THE USDA'S AGRICULTURAL 
BIOTECHNOLOGY ADVISORY COMMITTEE. THE VATICAN CONFIRMED THAT 
IT HAS FEWER PROBLEMS WITH THE SCIENCE OF BIOTECHNOLOGY THAN 
WITH THE SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND ETHICAL ISSUES LINKED TO THE 
PROCESSES. THE PROTAGONISTS AGREED THAT BIOTECHNOLOGY HAD 
THE POTENTIAL TO COMBAT WORLD HUNGER BY DEVELOPING DISEASE 
AND PEST RESISTANT PLANTS. VATICAN OFFICIALS EXPRESSED 
PARTICULAR INTEREST IN THE PROCESSES TO INCREASE THE 
NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF SOME GRAINS AND PLANTS. THE VATICAN 
APPROACH TO BIOTECHNOLOGY AND BIO-ETHICS IN GENERAL IS BASED 
ON "REASONABLE PRUDENCE." POST ARRANGED VATICAN MEDIA EVENTS 
TO FURTHER DISSEMINATE PRAKASH'S MESSAGE. END SUMMARY. 
 
--------------------- 
LOVE THE IDEA, BUT... 
--------------------- 
 
2.   MEMBERS AND CONSULTANTS OF THE VATICAN'S BIO-ETHICAL 
INSTITUTE, THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE, DISCUSSED THE 
PROS AND CONS OF BIOTECHNOLOGY WITH PROFESSOR CHANNAPATNA 
PRAKASH DURING A JULY 5 MEETING ORGANIZED BY POST IN VATICAN 
CITY. THE SCIENTIFIC ENCOUNTER WAS CHAIRED BY THE VATICAN'S 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        VATICA  03621  01 OF 02  091519Z 
"MINISTER" FOR BIO-ETHICAL ISSUES, BISHOP ELIO SGRECCIA. 
SGRECCIA WELCOMED THE OPPORTUNITY TO FURTHER THE VATICAN'S 
REFLECTION ON BIOTECHNOLOGY AND FROM THE START OF THE 
MEETING IT WAS CLEAR THAT VATICAN PARTICIPANTS WERE, IN 
THEORY, FAVORABLE TO THE BENEFITS OF BIOTECHNOLOGY, 
PARTICULARLY FOR DEVELOPING NATIONS. THE SCIENTISTS DID 
EXPRESS CONCERN OVER THE PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF GMOS AS 
PRODUCTS OF DOMINEERING WESTERN MULTINATIONALS, OFTEN 
LABELED AS "DIABOLICAL." PONTIFICAL ACADEMY MEMBERS 
SUGGESTED THAT DEVELOPING NATIONS SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED AND 
ASSISTED TO DEVELOP IN-HOUSE SOLUTIONS TO THEIR FOOD AND 
AGRICULTURE PROBLEMS. THERE WAS GENERAL AGREEMENT ABOUT THE 
POTENTIAL OF BIOTECHNOLOGY BUT THE VATICAN DELEGATION 
INSISTED ON ADEQUATE CONTROLS TO MANAGE EXTRINSIC RISKS. 
PRAKASH POINTED OUT THAT IN THE US THE EPA, USDA AND FDA 
KEEP CLOSE SCRUTINY ON NEW BIOTECH PRODUCTS. ALL AGREED THAT 
KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING IMPACTED DIRECTLY ON THE PUBLIC 
PERCEPTION OF BIOTECHNOLOGY AND GMOS. 
 
3.   THE VATICAN DELEGATION INSISTED THAT EACH NEW BIOTECH 
PRODUCT SHOULD RECEIVE A SPECIFIC ASSESSMENT AND APPROVAL. 
IT REJECTED THE IDEA OF A GENERAL APPROVAL OF GMOS. THEY 
ALSO CALLED FOR COUNTRY SPECIFIC ASSESSMENT AND APPROVAL. 
ONE ACADEMICIAN POINTED OUT THAT ONLY 20 PERCENT OF U.S. 
LAND IS DEDICATED TO AGRICULTURE COMPARED TO 80 PERCENT OF 
ITALY'S. HE OPINED THAT THE RISK FACTOR IN A NEW BIOTECH 
PRODUCT WAS GREATER FOR A COUNTRY LIKE ITALY THAN FOR THE 
US. THE VATICAN DELEGATES SAID THEIR APPROACH TO GENETIC 
SCIENCES IN GENERAL WAS GLOBAL IN NATURE AND THAT THEY 
CONSISTENTLY PUT THE INTERESTS OF PEOPLE FIRST. THE MEETING 
CONCLUDED WITH A WORKING LUNCH HOSTED BY BISHOP SGRECCIA. 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        VATICA  03621  01 OF 02  091519Z 
 
-------------- 
MEDIA COVERAGE 
-------------- 
 
4.   POST ARRANGED FOR DR. PRAKASH TO BE INTERVIEW BY 
VATICAN RADIO. THE RECORDED INTERVIEW WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE 
TO ALL ENGLISH LANGUAGE PROGRAMS AT THE STATION. THESE 
INCLUDE TRANSMISSIONS TO THE MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA, INDIA, 
PAKISTAN, SOUTHEAST ASIA, AND THE PACIFIC. PRAKASH WAS ALSO 
INTERVIEWED BY THE VATICAN BUREAU OF CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE 
(CNS), THE MEDIA ARM OF THE US BISHOPS CONFERENCE. CNS 
PROVIDES SYNDICATED VATICAN NEWS TO CATHOLIC MEDIA OUTLETS 
AROUND THE WORLD. 
 
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COMMENT 
------- 
 
4.   PRAKASH'S VISIT WAS GREATLY APPRECIATED BY THE VATICAN, 
HAVING BEEN PREVIOUSLY SANCTIONED BY THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN 
AFFAIRS. PONTIFICAL ACADEMY EXPERT, BISHOP ELIO SGRECCIA, 
EXPRESSED HIS SATISFACTION THAT POST HAD FACILITATED A 
SERIOUS SCIENTIFIC ENCOUNTER TO FURTHER THE PONTIFICAL 
ACADEMY'S REFLECTION ON THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF 
BIOTECHNOLOGY. EXTENSIVE VATICAN MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE VISIT 
AND DR. PRAKASH'S MESSAGE HAS PROVIDED A STIMULUS FOR A 
POSITIVE ASSESSMENT OF BIOTECHNOLOGY IN VATICAN-RELATED 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ0426 
 
PAGE 01        VATICA  03621  02 OF 02  091519Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00  SMEC-00  COME-00 
      CTME-00  DODE-00  ITCE-00  SRPP-00  DS-00    EB-00    EXME-00 
      E-00     UTED-00  VC-00    FRB-00   HHS-01   H-01     TEDE-00 
      INR-00   ITC-01   L-00     VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  NSCE-00 
      OES-01   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00 
      P-00     SCT-00   SP-00    SSO-00   STR-00   TEST-00  TRSE-00 
      USIE-00  SNIS-00  NISC-00  PMB-00   DSCC-00  DRL-02   G-00 
      SAS-00     /010W 
                  ------------------031051  091534Z /38 
R 091602Z JUL 01 
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0000 
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE 
USDA FAS WASHDC 
 
UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 VATICAN 003621 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/WE, EUR/PD/PA 
 
FROM EMBASSY VATICAN/MESSAGE NO. 113/01 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: TBIO, EAGR, ETRD, PGOV, VT 
 
SUBJECT: VATICAN - POST WORKS TO BUILD CONSENSUS ON AG- 
SCIENCE ETHICS 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  03621  02 OF 02  091519Z 
 
CIRCLES WORLDWIDE. U.S. BASED AGRICULTURAL COMPANIES HAVE 
ASKED EMBASSY VATICAN FOR ASSISTANCE ON THIS ISSUE. 
BIOTECHNOLOGY IS ONE IMPORTANT U.S. INDUSTRY WHICH EMBASSY 
VATICAN CAN ACTIVELY AND CONSTRUCTIVELY SUPPORT WITH HOST 
COUNTRY. MERANTE 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 

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