US embassy cable - 02ROME1457

ITALIAN WHITE PAPER ON AGRICULTURAL UNCLASSIFIED

Identifier: 02ROME1457
Wikileaks: View 02ROME1457 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Rome
Created: 2002-03-21 15:48:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: EAGR ETRD SENV EU ETRD SENV EU ETRD SENV EU ETRD SENV EU IT ICSCA ITEAGR ICSCA ITEAGR ICSCA ITEAGR ICSCA
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 04 ROME 001457 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE PASS USDA FOR HEGWOOD 
USDA FOR FAS/OA/TERPSTRA AND SLUTSKY; 
ITP/SHEIKH AND MACKE; FAA/NE/WILSON; 
DOS/EB/TPP/ATT; EUR/ERA; E-ASHUM; EB-GADSDEN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAGR, ETRD, SENV, EU, ETRD, SENV, EU, ETRD, SENV, EU, ETRD, SENV, EU, IT, ICSCA, ITEAGR, ICSCA, ITEAGR, ICSCA, ITEAGR, ICSCA 
SUBJECT: ITALIAN WHITE PAPER ON AGRICULTURAL 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01457  01 OF 04  211632Z 
BIOTECHNOLOGY 
 
1. SUMMARY: AN UNDATED WHITE PAPER ENTITLED 
"TRANSGENIC ORGANISMS AND AGRICULTURE: A TIME 
FOR CHOICES" WAS PUT INTO CIRCULATION IN 
ITALY AFTER MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE GIANNI 
ALEMANNO PRESENTED AN OUTLINE OF THIS 
STRATEGY AT AN AGRICULTURAL FAIR IN THE 
SECOND WEEK OF MARCH. THIS PAPER RECOUNTS THE 
HISTORY OF AND DEFENDS THE ITALIAN BAN ON 
FOUR EU-APPROVED GM CORN VARIETIES AND 
SUGGESTS IT BE CONTINUED UNDER PLANNED EU 
RULE CHANGES. FURTHERMORE, THE PAPER SUGGESTS 
NATIONAL LEGISLATION SHOULD BE CONSIDERED 
THAT WOULD RESTRICT THE ITALIAN MARKET TO 
BIOTECHNOLOGY BEYOND PROPOSED EU NORMS. IT 
EMPHASIZES THE NEED FOR TRACEABILITY AND 
LABELING LAWS. 
2.  THE PAPER ARGUES THAT THE UNIQUE 
GEOGRAPHY OF ITALY, THE SMALL AGRICULTURAL 
LAND HOLDINGS WHICH BORDER ON ONE ANOTHER AND 
THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT, AND THE NEED TO 
PRESERVE REGIONAL AND TYPICAL PRODUCTS OF 
HIGH VALUE IN DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN MARKETS 
MEANS THAT THE MARKET NICHE HELD BY ITALIAN 
QUALITY PRODUCTS COULD BE DAMAGED BY THE 
INTRODUCTION OF BIOTECHNOLOGY.  CONVERSELY, A 
DECISION TO MAKE ITALIAN AGRICULTURE GMO 
FREE, COULD STRENGTHEN THE NICHE MARKET 
OCCUPIED BY ITALIAN QUALITY PRODUCTS. END 
SUMMARY 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  01457  01 OF 04  211632Z 
 
3. THE PAPER CAME TO US FROM ASSOBIOTEC AND 
MONSANTO, ORIGINATING FROM THE MINISTRY OF 
AGRICULTURE U/S AMBROSIO. WE UNDERSTAND THAT 
THE PAPER WILL BE USED TO INITIATE A PUBLIC 
DEBATE IN PARLIAMENT TOWARD THE END OF APRIL. 
COMMENT: BECAUSE THERE ARE FEW POLITICIANS 
WHO WILL RISK TAKING A POSITION AGAINST THE 
ANTI-BIOTECH CROWD, ONCE DEBATED PUBLICLY IN 
PARLIAMENT IT WILL BE HARD TO ENLIST SUCH 
SUPPORT. IF DEBATE TRANSFORMS THE PAPER INTO 
GOI POLICY BY LEGISLATION OR DECREE, IT 
THREATENS, AT A MINIMUM, U.S. SOY AND CORN 
SEED IMPORTS, AND SOYBEAN AND MEAL IMPORTS, 
WORTH ABOUT DOLS 150 MILLION, OR ABOUT ONE 
FOURTH OF THE VALUE OF U.S. FOOD AND FEED 
EXPORT MARKET TO ITALY. END COMMENT.  EMBASSY 
ROME IS CONFERRING WITH INTERLOCUTORS AND IN 
A SEPTEL WILL REPORT THE REACTION OF FARM 
INTEREST GROUPS. POST HAS EXPRESSED CONCERNS 
ABOUT THE PAPER TO THE PRIME MINISTER'S 
OFFICE AND HAS RECEIVED ASSURANCES THAT THOSE 
CONCERNS WILL BE ADDRESSED. 
 
4. THE PAPER STATES THAT EU LEGISLATION DOES 
NOT SUFFICIENTLY RESTRICT GMO "CONTAMINATION" 
FROM ENTERING THE FOOD CHAIN. COMMENT: THIS 
IS NOT A SCIENTIFIC PAPER. IN FACT THIS WHITE 
PAPER REBUFFS SCIENTIFIC REASONING ON AG 
BIOTECH AS USELESS AND REPETITIVE. IT UPHOLDS 
THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE OVER ALL 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  01457  01 OF 04  211632Z 
APPROACHES TO BIOTECH, WHETHER THE SUBJECT BE 
SCIENCE, ETHICS, OR PRODUCTION ECONOMICS. BY 
OMITTING ANY SCIENTIFIC FINDINGS OR 
CONSIDERING THE BENEFITS OF BIOTECHNOLOGY, 
THE PAPER IS ABLE TO CONSTRUCT A SIMPLISTIC 
ARGUMENT WHICH PORTRAYS BIOTECHNOLOGY AS A 
THREAT TO ITALIAN HIGH VALUE PRODUCTS, AND 
THAT BY EXCLUDING THEM ITALY WILL PURSUE AN 
OPPORTUNITY TO ENHANCE ITALY'S INTERNATIONAL 
REPUTATION. THE PAPER CONCLUDES THAT 
BIOTECHNOLOGY HOLDS NO PROMISE, AND INDEED IS 
A THREAT TO ITALIAN CONSUMERS, THE ITALIAN 
ECONOMY, AND ITALIAN FOOD PRODUCERS.  THE 
PAPER'S INTENT, NOTWITHSTANDING THE TITLE, 
IS TO ESTABLISH A NEED FOR NATIONAL 
REGULATIONS TO FURTHER RESTRICT EU 
LEGISLATION ON BIOTECH TOLERANCES, TO OPPOSE 
BIOTECH APPROVALS, AND TO ENHANCE 
TRACEABILITY AND LABELING. END COMMENT. 
 
5.  THE PAPER'S 37 PAGES OF ARGUM 
ENT FOLLOW 
THESE LINES:  BEGIN WHITE PAPER SUMMARY 
 
6. FARMERS SKEPTICAL ABOUT BENEFITS OF 
AGRICULTURAL BIOTECH.  BIOTECH AIMS TO 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ3159 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  01457  02 OF 04  211633Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00  COME-00  CTME-00 
      DINT-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  ITCE-00  SRPP-00  EB-00    EXME-00 
      E-00     UTED-00  VC-00    FRB-00   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00 
      IO-00    ITC-01   L-00     AC-01    DCP-01   NSAE-00  NSCE-00 
      NSF-01   OES-01   OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PC-01    PM-00 
      PRS-00   ACE-00   SP-00    SSO-00   SS-00    STR-00   TEST-00 
      TRSE-00  T-00     USIE-00  EPAE-00  ECA-00   PMB-00   DRL-02 
      G-00     SAS-00     /014W 
                  ------------------789D4E  212023Z /38 
R 211548Z MAR 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2881 
USDA FAS WASHDC 2066 
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE 
 
UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 04 ROME 001457 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE PASS USDA FOR HEGWOOD 
USDA FOR FAS/OA/TERPSTRA AND SLUTSKY; 
ITP/SHEIKH AND MACKE; FAA/NE/WILSON; 
DOS/EB/TPP/ATT; EUR/ERA; E-ASHUM; EB-GADSDEN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAGR, ETRD, SENV, ICSCA, EU, IT 
REF: ROME 01405 
 
SUBJECT: ITALIAN WHITE PAPER ON AGRICULTURAL 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01457  02 OF 04  211633Z 
BIOTECHNOLOGY 
 
INCREASE YIELDS QUANTITATIVELY, WHILE ITALY 
IS TRYING TO SATISFY THE DEMANDS OF 
DISCRIMINATING CONSUMERS WHO WANT QUALITY, 
GENUINE FOOD.  INCREASING YIELDS MAKES SENSE 
ON A GLOBAL SCALE, BUT IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE 
IN EVERY AGRICULTURAL SETTING. IN THE ITALIAN 
AGRICULTURAL COMPLEX, BIOTECH SHOULD BE 
SCRUTINIZED ACCORDING TO ITALY'S 
CHARACTERISTICS: ITS PREDILECTION FOR NICHE 
PRODUCTS, THE TOPOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT; 
SOCIAL ASPECTS INCLUDING HOW CONSUMERS VIEW 
AGRICULTURE, THE PRESENCE OF BIOTECH IN FEED 
INGREDIENTS, THE ROLE OF RESEARCH AND 
EXPERIMENTATION; AND EU LEGISLATIVE NORMS, 
ESPECIALLY THOSE REGARDING THE SEED REGIME. 
AGRICULTURE IN THE EU COMMUNITY IS ALLOWING A 
PROGRESSIVE PENETRATION BY BIOTECHNOLOGY 
WHICH WILL DEPRIVE CITIZENS AND THOSE WHO 
WORK IN AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRIES FROM A CHOICE 
TO REMAIN GMO-FREE. 
 
7. QUALITY FOOD 
THE FOOD AND BEVERAGE INDUSTRY SECTOR 
CONTRIBUTES 23 PERCENT TO ITALIAN GNP. THE 
"QUALITY" OR "TRADITIONAL" FOOD PRODUCTS HAVE 
EARNED ITALY A REPUTATION THROUGHOUT THE 
WORLD. HIGH QUALITY PRODUCTS UNDER PROTECTION 
OF GEOGRAPHIC INDICATIONS OR OTHER 
DESIGNATIONS REPRESENT 15 PERCENT OF THE 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  01457  02 OF 04  211633Z 
VALUE OF TOTAL FOOD PRODUCTION. THESE COULD 
BE THE ENGINE FOR MORE VALUE ADDED IF THE 
EXPORT OF "QUALITY" PRODUCTS EXPANDS. THERE 
ARE 114 PRODUCTS UNDER EU PROTECTION BY 
DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN, GEOGRAPHICAL 
INDICATION, OR TRADITIONAL SPECIALTY.  ADD TO 
THIS 440 WINES WITH VARIOUS DESIGNATIONS. BY 
GETTING MORE PRODUCTS TO COME UNDER PROTECTED 
DESIGNATIONS, WHETHER BY VIRTUE OF ITALY'S 
AGRICULTURAL TRADITIONS OR BY THE OTHER 
DEFINITIONS, ITALY COULD BOOST THE 
UNPROTECTED INTO THE REALM OF THE PROTECTED. 
GLOBALIZATION HAS THE OPPOSITE POTENTIAL;  IT 
COULD DEGRADE THESE UNIQUE PRODUCTS INTO THE 
REALM OF THE COMMONPLACE AND BORING. THE 
OBJECTIVE SHOULD BE TO INCREASE THE VALUE OF 
ITALIAN PRODUCTION BY PROMOTING ITALIAN 
PRODUCTS OF HIGH, GMO-FREE QUALITY. 
 
8. DOWNSIDE POTENTIAL ON IMAGE OF ITALIAN 
PRODUCTS 
ANYTHING NEGATIVE THAT MIGHT DETRACT FROM THE 
WHOLESOMENESS OR THE QUALITY OF A PRODUCT 
SHOULD BE AVOIDED. BIOTECHNOLOGY COULD MAR 
THE BIOLOGICAL PATRIMONY OF THE AGRICULTURAL 
COMPLEX. ITALIAN CONSUMERS ARE INCREASINGLY 
SENSITIVE TO TYPICAL PRODUCTION AND 
HEALTHFULNESS OF FOOD, NOT JUST DUE TO FOOD 
EMERGENCIES. THIS IS ALSO THE RESULT OF 
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS WHICH HAVE INCREASED 
CONSUMERS' DISPOSABLE INCOME AND 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  01457  02 OF 04  211633Z 
SOPHISTICATION. THERE IS NO TURNING BACK FROM 
THIS INCREASED AWARENESS. AGRICULTURE IS NO 
LONGER SOLELY THE PROVIDER OF SUSTENANCE, IT 
ALSO PROVIDES PEOPLE WITH COLLECTIVE GOODS 
SUCH AS CONSERVATION OF NATURE AND THE 
ENVIRONMENT, OF THE COUNTRYSIDE AND FOOD 
TRADITIONS.  SOCIETY LOOKS TO AGRICULTURE TO 
SATISFY ITS NEED FOR QUALITY OF LIFE. 
 
9. BIODIVERSITY AND GENE FLOW 
ITALY'S HILLY TOPOGRAPHY AND ITS AGRICULTURE 
GIVE IT UNIQUE TERRITORIAL CHARACTERISTICS. 
THE MIX OF AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL 
ENVIRONMENTS MEANS THAT THEY SHARE BORDERS 
WHICH WOULD HAVE EFFECTS ON EACH OTHER. ALSO, 
THE DIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE WITHIN SMALL 
TERRITORIAL CONFINES COULD BE EFFECTED BY THE 
CHOICE OF BIOTECH PRODUCTION. IN ITALY IT 
WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE TO ISOLATE METHODS OF 
CULTIVATION BY DISTANCES BETWEEN THE 
DIFFERENT TYPES, INCLUDING ORGANIC 
AGRICULTURE. ITALY'S ORGANIC FOOD INDUSTRY, 
THE LARGEST IN EUROPE, CANNOT PERMIT 
CONTAMINATION BY BIOTECH PRODUCTION. 
 
10. QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ3160 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  01457  03 OF 04  211633Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00  COME-00  CTME-00 
      DINT-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  ITCE-00  SRPP-00  MEDE-00  EB-00 
      EXME-00  E-00     UTED-00  VC-00    FRB-00   H-01     TEDE-00 
      INR-00   IO-00    ITC-01   L-00     AC-01    NSAE-00  NSCE-00 
      NSF-01   OES-01   OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PC-01    PM-00 
      PRS-00   ACE-00   SP-00    SSO-00   SS-00    STR-00   TEST-00 
      TRSE-00  T-00     USIE-00  EPAE-00  ECA-00   PMB-00   DRL-02 
      G-00     SAS-00     /013W 
                  ------------------789D58  212023Z /38 
R 211548Z MAR 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2882 
USDA FAS WASHDC 2067 
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE 
 
UNCLAS SECTION 03 OF 04 ROME 001457 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE PASS USDA FOR HEGWOOD 
USDA FOR FAS/OA/TERPSTRA AND SLUTSKY; 
ITP/SHEIKH AND MACKE; FAA/NE/WILSON; 
DOS/EB/TPP/ATT; EUR/ERA; E-ASHUM; EB-GADSDEN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAGR, ETRD, SENV, ICSCA, EU, IT 
REF: ROME 01405 
 
SUBJECT: ITALIAN WHITE PAPER ON AGRICULTURAL 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01457  03 OF 04  211633Z 
BIOTECHNOLOGY 
 
ITALIANS ARE MOVING TOWARDS CHOICES BASED ON 
QUALITY, SO DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO EVALUATE 
BIOTECH IN A QUANTITATIVE MANNER?  ITALIAN 
AGRICULTURE'S OBJECTIVE IS NOT TO INCREASE 
PRODUCTION. IT IS TO PRODUCE QUALITY 
PRODUCTS. ITALIAN CITIZENS DON'T BELIEVE THEY 
ARE GOING TO FACE ANY GAPS BETWEEN FOOD 
SUPPLY AND DEMAND. REFERENCE IS MADE TO AN 
OCTOBER 2001 OPINION POLL WHICH IS GIVEN AS 
EVIDENCE THAT PEOPLE HAVE HOPE FOR BIOTEC 
H 
ONLY IN MEDICINE AND SCIENCE OR IF IT COULD 
BE USED TO ADDRESS FAMINE. AS FOR ITALIAN 
CONSUMERS, BIOTECH SHOWS PROMISE FOR 
EXPERIMENTATION OUTSIDE OF AGRICULTURE OR TO 
RESOLVE PROBLEMS WHICH ITALIANS DON'T FACE. 
THE SAME STUDY IS CITED AS SAYING THAT THE 
MINORITY WHO FAVOR BIOTECH LOOK AT 
QUANTITATIVE EVIDENCE LINKED TO INCREASES IN 
YIELDS OR REDUCTIONS IN THE COST OF 
PRODUCTION. 
 
11. SEEDS FOR PLANTING 
WHEN ACCIDENTAL CONTAMINATION IS IN SEEDS FOR 
PLANTING, THESE ARE PARTICULARLY THREATENING. 
THIS CAN LEAD TO A LACK OF CONTROL OVER 
PROPAGATED SPECIES. THE LACK OF NATIONALLY 
PRODUCED SEEDS FREE FROM GMOS MEANS ITALY 
MUST RELY ON IMPORTED SEED. THIS IS TRUE 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  01457  03 OF 04  211633Z 
ESPECIALLY FOR SOY AND CORN. NATIONAL 
PRODUCTION ONLY COVERS 30 PERCENT AND 50 
PERCENT, RESPECTIVELY, OF THE DEMAND FOR 
THESE SEEDS.  TO BECOME SELF SUFFICIENT IN 
SEED PRODUCTION WOULD REQUIRE THAT SEED 
PRODUCTION MUST INCREASE. ALTERNATIVELY, 
ITALY COULD LOOK FOR SEED SOURCES FROM 
COUNTRIES WHICH CAN GUARANTEE GMO-FREE SEEDS. 
THE USE OF UNPOLLUTED-BY-BIOTECH SEEDS SHOULD 
BE ASSURED. 
 
12. VULNERABILITY FROM FEED IMPORTS; THE AIMS 
OF EUROPEAN AGRICULTURAL POLICY 
THE WORLD'S EXPANSION OF ACREAGE UNDER 
BIOTECH PRODUCTION IS IN A FEW COUNTRIES AND 
CONCERNS ONLY A HANDFUL OF CROPS. OF THESE 
ITALY IS MOST "VULNERABLE" TO CONTAMINATION 
FROM SOY AND CORN. MOST BIOTECH CROPS ARE 
HERBICIDE RESISTANT OR INSECT RESISTANT, 
CHARACTERISTICS THAT AIM TO INCREASE 
PRODUCTION AND LOWER COST. IN CONTRAST, 
EUROPEAN AGRICULTURAL PROGRAMS ARE DESIGNED 
TO LIMIT PRODUCTION AND TO IMPROVE QUALITY. 
MOREOVER, ITALIAN AGRICULTURE IS THE CHIEF 
PROVIDER OF ORGANIC PRODUCTION IN THE EU. 
EUROPEAN CONSUMERS WANT HIGH QUALITY, 
HEALTHFUL, GENUINE FOOD. ITALIAN PRODUCTS 
SHOULD AIM TO SATISFY THAT CONSUMER DEMAND. 
 
13. TRACEABILITY AND LABELING 
FOR FINISHED PRODUCTS GENETIC CONTAMINATION 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  01457  03 OF 04  211633Z 
CAN BE LIMITED BY MEANS OF TRACEABILITY AND 
LABELING.  ITALY CAN AND SHOULD MAINTAIN 
STRICT T&L TO ENSURE GMO-FREE PRODUCTS ARE 
KEPT SEPARATELY FROM ANY THAT HAVE GMO 
CONTENTS, INCLUDING MEAT FROM ANIMALS FED GMO 
FEED. 
 
14. BIOTECH RESEARCH 
IT IS POSSIBLE TO DO ADVANCED BIOTECH 
RESEARCH EVEN WITHOUT PRODUCING TRANSGENIC 
ORGANISMS.  PUBLIC RESOURCES CAN BE USED FOR 
PRUDENT RESEARCH, TO ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE 
WITHOUT GOING INTO THE REALM OF AGRICULTURAL 
RISK.  THIS CALL TO CAUTION, COMBINED WITH 
THE ABSENCE OF NEED TO INCREASE ITALIAN 
YIELDS OR LOWER COSTS, CALLS INTO QUESTION 
FURTHER DEBATE BY SCIENTISTS. A HYPOTHETICAL 
RESEARCH PLAN SHOULD HAVE THREE PRIORITIES: 
PROTECTING AND IMPROVING THE BEST VARIETIES, 
EVALUATING THE IMPACT OF TRANSGENIC 
ORGANISMS, AND PROTECTING THE CONSUMER. 
 
15. PATENTS ON GENETIC MATERIAL 
THERE IS A CONCENTRATION OF OWNERSHIP OF 
GENETIC RESOURCES SUCH AS BIOTECH SEED 
PATENTS, INTO VERY FEW HANDS.  THE OPTIONS 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ3161 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  01457  04 OF 04  211633Z 
ACTION EB-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AID-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00  COME-00  CTME-00 
      DINT-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  ITCE-00  SRPP-00  EXME-00  EUR-00 
      E-00     UTED-00  VC-00    FRB-00   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00 
      IO-00    ITC-01   L-00     AC-01    DCP-01   NSAE-00  NSCE-00 
      NSF-01   OES-01   OIC-02   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PC-01    PM-00 
      PRS-00   ACE-00   SP-00    IRM-00   SSO-00   SS-00    STR-00 
      TEST-00  TRSE-00  T-00     USIE-00  EPAE-00  PMB-00   DRL-02 
      G-00     SAS-00     /014W 
                  ------------------789D60  212023Z /38 
R 211548Z MAR 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2883 
USDA FAS WASHDC 2068 
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE 
 
UNCLAS SECTION 04 OF 04 ROME 001457 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE PASS USDA FOR HEGWOOD 
USDA FOR FAS/OA/TERPSTRA AND SLUTSKY; 
ITP/SHEIKH AND MACKE; FAA/NE/WILSON; 
DOS/EB/TPP/ATT; EUR/ERA; E-ASHUM; EB-GADSDEN 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAGR, ETRD, SENV, ICSCA, EU, IT 
REF: ROME 01405 
 
SUBJECT: ITALIAN WHITE PAPER ON AGRICULTURAL 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01457  04 OF 04  211633Z 
BIOTECHNOLOGY 
 
THAT THE HOLDERS OF GENE PATENTS HOLD IS OF 
CONCERN. ITALY COULD BE VULNERABLE TO THEIR 
DECISIONS BECAUSE OF THE IMPORTANT ROLE 
AGRICULTURE PLAYS WITHIN THE ECONOMY. 
 
16. CONSUMER CHOICE AND CONSUMER EDUCATION 
CONSUMERS SHOULD HAVE MORE INFORMATION 
REGARDING THE PRESENCE OR ABSENCE OF 
TRANSGENIC MATERIAL IN FOOD AND ANIMAL FEED 
ON THE MARKET. THERE SHOULD BE MORE 
INFORMATION ON THE PROVENANCE AND LOCALITY 
WHICH CHARACTERIZE TYPICAL FOOD, AND ON THE 
TRACEABILITY OF THE FOOD CHAIN TO ENSURE GMO- 
FREE FOOD.  COMPARING GMO CONTAMINATION TO A 
FOOD EMERGENCY, THE ADVICE IS THAT ITALY 
SHOULD NOT WAIT FOR A CATASTROPHE BUT PUT 
INTO ACTION NOW THOSE METHODS THAT COULD 
CONTAIN A FUTURE HEALTH CALAMITY.  CONSUMERS 
SHOULD NOT JUST BE PROTECTED FROM HARM, THEY 
SHOULD HAVE IN THEIR HANDS THE MEANS TO MAKE 
INFORMED CHOICES.  MORE INFORMATION FOR 
CONSUMERS IS NEEDED. TRACEABILITY AND 
LABELING IS BEING PUT FORWARD AS AN EU 
PRECONDITION TO OPENING UP THE APPROVAL 
PROCESS. THERE SHOULD BE, AS SOON AS 
POSSIBLE, A DIRECTIVE THAT PRECEDES THE 
OCTOBER 17 DEADLINE, TO MAINTAIN A SEPARATION 
OF GMO AND NON-GMO FOOD 
CHAINS; AND ASSURE 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  01457  04 OF 04  211633Z 
THAT A TRACEABILITY AND LABELING SCHEME WILL 
POINT OUT THE PRESENCE OF GMOS IN FOOD. 
 
16. EUROPEAN COMMUNITY AND NATIONAL 
REGULATIONS   MOST OF THE REGULATIONS 
COVERING BIOTECHNOLOGY ARE FROM THE EC. THE 
NOTABLE EXCEPTION IS THE AUGUST 4, 2000 
ITALIAN BAN ON FOUR EU-APPROVED BIOTECH CORN 
VARIETIES, WHICH IS PERMITTED UNDER ARTICLE 
12 OF 258/97.  THE REPLACEMENT OF 90/220 BY 
2001/18 ON OCTOBER 17, 2002, WILL MAKE IT 
EASIER FOR TRANSGENIC VARIETIES TO BE 
ADMITTED INTO THE EU.  THE USE OF THE 
SAFEGUARD CLAUSE UNDER ARTICLE 23 WILL ALLOW 
A MEMBER STATE TO LIMIT OR PROHIBIT A PRODUCT 
AUTHORIZED ENTRY BY THE COMMISSION. 
 
17. TOLERANCE FOR ADVENTITIOUS PRESENCE 
ITALY'S LEGISLATIVE DECREE 212/01, ADDRESSES 
THE USE OF SEEDS CONTAINING GMO MATERIAL. 
THERE IS ALSO SOME AMBIGUITY BECAUSE OF A 
LACK OF A TESTING METHOD WITH A RELIABLE 
INDICATOR OF GMO MATERIAL.  FOR THESE REASONS 
THERE IS NO COMMUNITY-WIDE REGULATION OVER 
BIOTECH IN SEEDS. LIKEWISE, THE MINISTRY OF 
AGRICULTURE CONTINUED FOR 2002, THE "ZERO 
TOLERANCE" POLICY. IT IS ALSO NECESSARY TO 
DETERMINE ITALIAN AGRICULTURE'S FUTURE WITH 
REGARD TO THIS POLICY, INDEPENDENTLY OF THE 
EC. 
END OF WHITE PAPER SUMMARY.  SEMBLER 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  01457  04 OF 04  211633Z 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
> 
 2002ROME01457 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 


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