US embassy cable - 02ROME1697

OUR MESSAGE ON BIOTECH: GOI NEEDS TO HEAR IT DIRECT

Identifier: 02ROME1697
Wikileaks: View 02ROME1697 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Rome
Created: 2002-04-04 14:58:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: EAGR ECON ETRD IT PREL SENV ECON ETRD IT PREL SENV TBIO EUN TBIOEAGR EUN
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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ROME 001697 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SECSTATE DELIVER/PASS TO DAVID HEGWOOD/USDA WASHDC 
FROM THE AMBASSADOR TO USDA SECRETARY VENEMAN 
EPA FOR ADMINISTRATOR WHITMAN 
DEPT FOR U/S LARSON AND SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC EDSON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2012 
TAGS: EAGR, ECON, ETRD, IT, PREL, SENV, ECON, ETRD, IT, PREL, SENV, TBIO, EUN, TBIOEAGR, EUN 
SUBJECT: OUR MESSAGE ON BIOTECH: GOI NEEDS TO HEAR IT DIRECT 
 
REF: STATE 42136 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: AMBASSADOR MEL SEMBLER FOR REASONS 1.5 (B AND D) 
 
1. (U)  THIS IS AN URGENT ACTION MESSAGE. 
 
2. (C)  SUMMARY AND ACTION REQUEST:  I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP 
THE GOI FROM SLIDING INTO THE ANTI-BIOTECH CAMP.  SINCE THE 
OCTOBER 2001 EXCHANGE BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT AND PRIME 
MINISTER AND THE VISIT OF AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VENEMAN IN 
NOVEMBER, THE PM HAS NOT MADE GOOD ON HIS PLEDGE TO OPEN 
ITALY TO BIOTECHNOLOGY.  IN THE MEANTIME, AN EVER BOLDER 
MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE HAS DEVISED A CLEVER STRATEGY WHICH 
LEADS IN THE DIRECTION OF CLOSING ITALY TO ALL AGRICULTURAL 
BIOTECHNOLOGY.  MINISTER ALEMANNO'S WHITE PAPER, DESCRIBED 
AND ANALYZED SEPARATELY, IS TO BE INTRODUCED INTO PARLIAMENT 
FOR WHAT WILL SURELY BE A HIGHLY PREJUDICIAL DEBATE ABOUT THE 
MERITS OF AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY FOR ITALY.  IF THE PAPER 
IS INTRODUCED IN ITS CURRENT FORM, I BELIEVE THE PRIME 
MINISTER WILL BE POLITICALLY HARD-PRESSED TO MOVE ITALY 
TOWARD A BIOTECH POLICY FRIENDLIER TO OUR INTERESTS. 
ACTION REQUEST: I NEED YOU TO HELP ME SEND A WAKE-UP MESSAGE 
TO THE PRIME MINISTER.  WE NEED HIM TO PUT BIOTECHNOLOGY NEAR 
THE TOP OF HIS AGENDA WITH US FOR A FEW CRITICAL DAYS.  I'M 
ASKING EACH OF YOU TO CALL OR WRITE GOI MINISTERS AND SENIOR 
ADVISORS AS OUTLINED IN THE GAME PLAN BELOW.  OUR GOAL IS TO 
BURY ALEMANNO'S PAPER IN THE PM'S NATIONAL COMMISSION ON 
BIOTECHNOLOGY, AND TO ENSURE THAT FULL GOVERNMENT REVIEW 
PRECEDES THE OPEN DEBATE IN PARLIAMENT.  WE NEED TO GET OUR 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  01697  01 OF 02  041547Z 
MESSAGE THROUGH BEFORE THE WHITE PAPER'S INTRODUCTION INTO 
PARLIAMENT, WHICH COULD BE AS EARLY AS APRIL 15.  END SUMMARY 
AND ACTION REQUEST. 
 
3. (C)  PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI IS PREOCCUPIED WITH MESSY 
FIGHTS OVER THE BUDGET AND LABOR REFORM, NOT TO MENTION 
FOREIGN POLICY CONCERNS.  (HE RETAINS THE FOREIGN MINISTER 
PORTFOLIO.)  ABSENT HIS DIRECT ENGAGEMENT, OR AT LEAST A 
CLEAR SIGNAL FROM HIM, MOST OF THE GOVERNMENT FALLS BACK ON 
EXCUSES AND DELAYING TACTICS.  THERE'S ONE EXCEPTION, THOUGH: 
 AGRICULTURE MINISTER ALEMANNO.  HE IS TRYING TO USE HIS 
POWER BASE AMONG GREENS AND THE WELL-ORGANIZED, HIGHLY 
CHARGED ANTI-BIOTECH FARM ORGANIZATION COLDIRETTI TO LEAPFROG 
OVER THE MAJORITY OF ITALIAN STAKEHOLDERS AND THE REST OF THE 
GOI AND LOCK ITALY INTO AN ANTI-BIOTECH POSTURE. 
 
4. (C)  THERE ARE PLENTY OF PEOPLE WITHIN THE GOI OPPOSED TO 
ALEMANNO'S APPROACH; I BELIEVE THEY CONSTITUTE THE MAJORITY. 
BUT THEIR POSITION IS UNCOORDINATED, AND THEY NEED MORE TIME 
TO DEVELOP A COHERENT FRONT.  WE NEED TO WORK HARD NOW TO BUY 
THEM THAT TIME, VIA SOME INTERCESSION FROM THE TOP.  TO GIVE 
THEM EQUAL HEARING I URGENTLY ASK EACH OF YOU TO CONSIDER THE 
FOLLOWING PROPOSED ACTIONS: 
 
FOR SECRETARY VENEMAN: THAT YOU WRITE A LETTER TO MINISTER 
ALEMANNO EXPLAINING U.S. CONCERNS WITH THE MINISTRY'S BIASED 
ASSESSMENT OF BIOTECHNOLOGY AND URGING HIM TO BASE HIS 
ASSESSMENT OF BIOTECHNOLOGY ON SOUND SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE.  I 
WILL PERSONALLY DELIVER YOUR LETTER TO THE MINISTER.  EMBASSY 
FAS MINISTER-COUNSELOR WILL WORK WITH YOUR OFFICE ON A DRAFT 
AND TRANSLATION. 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  01697  01 OF 02  041547Z 
 
FOR EPA ADMINISTRATOR WHITMAN:  THAT YOU MEET WITH MINISTER 
OF ENVIRONMENT MATTEOLI AT BANFF ON APRIL 12, AND LET HIM 
KNOW THAT BIOTECHNOLOGY IS NEAR THE TOP OF OUR PRESIDENT'S 
AGENDA, AND THAT WE LOOK TO ITALY FOR HELP.  EMBASSY EST 
COUNSELOR IS WORKING WITH YOUR OFFICE. 
 
FOR U/S LARSON:  THAT YOU TALK WITH AMBASSADOR SALLEO BEFORE 
APRIL 15, AND SHARE WITH HIM YOUR VIEWS ON BIOTECHNOLOGY, AND 
OUR CONCERN THAT ITALY IS ABOUT TO TAKE A SERIOUS WRONG TURN. 
 SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS TO FOLLOW SEPTEL. 
 
FOR WHITE HOUSE NSC GARY EDSON:  YOU KNOW THE PM'S DIPLOMATIC 
COUNSELOR, AMBASSADOR GIANNI CASTELLANETA, FROM G-8 MEETINGS. 
 I ASK THAT YOU CALL HIM, REMIND HIM OF THE OCTOBER EXCHANGE 
BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT AND PM, AND EXPLAIN THAT THE PRIME 
MINISTER'S LEADERSHIP IS NEEDED NOW, MORE THAN EVER, TO 
ENSURE THAT ITALIAN BIOTECH POLICY DOES NOT GO OFF THE RAILS. 
 MY DCM HAS ADDRESSED THIS ISSUE WITH CASTELLANETA, AND WE 
KNOW THAT HE SHARED OUR PAPER WITH THE PM.  NONETHELESS, IT 
WOULD BE USEFUL FOR HIM TO HEAR IT AGAIN FROM YOU.  HE'LL GET 
YOUR MESSAGE, AS WELL, TO THE PM. 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ9482 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  01697  02 OF 02  041548Z 
ACTION SSO-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AMAD-00  ACQ-00   CIAE-00  COME-00 
      DODE-00  DOEE-00  DOTE-00  DS-00    EB-00    EUR-00   E-00 
      FAAE-00  VC-00    HHS-01   TEDE-00  INR-00   VCE-00   AC-01 
      NSAE-00  OES-01   ACE-00   STR-00   TRSE-00  EPAE-00  DSCC-00 
      DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /005W 
                  ------------------7F1222  041632Z /38 
R 041458Z APR 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 3104 
WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC 
HQ EPA WASHDC 
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE 
AMCONSUL FLORENCE 
AMCONSUL MILAN 
AMCONSUL NAPLES 
 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 ROME 001697 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SECSTATE DELIVER/PASS TO DAVID HEGWOOD/USDA WASHDC 
FROM THE AMBASSADOR TO USDA SECRETARY VENEMAN 
EPA FOR ADMINISTRATOR WHITMAN 
DEPT FOR U/S LARSON AND SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC EDSON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2012 
TAGS: EAGR, ECON, ETRD, EUN, IT, PREL, SENV, TBIO 
SUBJECT: OUR MESSAGE ON BIOTECH: GOI NEEDS TO HEAR IT DIRECT 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01697  02 OF 02  041548Z 
 
FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER:  THAT YOU WRITE TO MINISTER OF 
EDUCATION, UNIVERSITIES AND RESEARCH LETIZIA MORATTI AND TO 
MINISTER OF HEALTH GIROLAMO SIRCHIA TO EXPRESS CONCERN THAT 
ITALY IS ABOUT TO UNDERTAKE A POLICY DISCUSSION THAT HAS 
APPARENTLY OVERLOOKED THE ESSENTIAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF 
SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE AND RESEARCH TO ANY SOUND DEBATE ON THIS 
SUBJECT.  I HAVE RAISED THIS ISSUE WITH BOTH OF THEM 
RECENTLY, AND THEY INDICATED AN INTEREST IN WORKING WITH US. 
EMBASSY EST COUNSELOR IS AVAILABLE TO WORK WITH YOUR OFFICE 
ON DRAFTING THIS MESSAGE. 
 
5. (C) I WILL MAKE ADDITIONAL CALLS RE BIOTECH ON THE PRIME 
MINISTER IN ORDER TO ENSURE THAT HE CANNOT DOUBT THE 
IMPORTANCE WE ATTACH TO ITALY'S HELP WITH BIOTECHNOLOGY AND 
THE POSSIBLE IMPACT ITALIAN SUPPORT COULD HAVE ON OTHER 
BILATERAL ISSUES. 
SEMBLER 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 
2002ROME01697 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL 


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