US embassy cable - 02ROME1726

ITALY'S WRONG TURN ON BIOTECH: WHAT WE SHOULD DO

Identifier: 02ROME1726
Wikileaks: View 02ROME1726 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Rome
Created: 2002-04-08 06:08:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: EAGR ECON ETRD IT PREL TBIO ECON ETRD IT PREL TBIO ECON ETRD IT PREL TBIO ECON ETRD IT PREL TBIO ECON ETRD IT PREL TBIO WTOEAGR WTOEAGR WTOEAGR WTOEAGR WTO
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 05 ROME 001726 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
EUR/ERA FOR HEN-NIL, 
EB FOR GADSDEN 
EB/TPP/ATT FOR PEREZ 
E FOR SHUB, 
OES A/S TURNER 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01726  01 OF 05  080658Z 
STATE PASS USTR FOR STROJE, NOVELLI 
STATE PASS USDA FOR APHIS:SMCCAMMON, USDA/FAS:BLUM 
USDA/FAS/ITT:EJONES, USDA/FAS/OA:SLUTSKY 
USDA/OS/HEGWOOD 
STATE PASS FDA FOR EFLAMM 
EPA FOR OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATOR 
NSC FOR EDSON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/07/2012 
TAGS: EAGR, ECON, ETRD, IT, PREL, TBIO, ECON, ETRD, IT, PREL, TBIO, ECON, ETRD, IT, PREL, TBIO, ECON, ETRD, IT, PREL, TBIO, ECON, ETRD, IT, PREL, TBIO, WTOEAGR, WTOEAGR, WTOEAGR, WTOEAGR, WTO 
SUBJECT: ITALY'S WRONG TURN ON BIOTECH: WHAT WE SHOULD DO 
 
REF: (A) ROME 1697 (B) ROME 1457 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: CLASSIFIED BY A/ECMIN DAVID MULENEX; REASON 1.5 B/D. 
 
 1. (C)  SUMMARY.  THIS COMPANION PIECE TO REF A PROVIDES 
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND, SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS FOR SENIOR 
WASHINGTON OFFICIALS, AND POST ACTION STRATEGY IN RESPONSE TO 
THE DELIBERATELY MISLEADING WHITE PAPER ON BIOTECHNOLOGY PUT 
IN CIRCULATION BY THE ITALIAN MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE. 
AMBASSADOR AND EMBOFFS HAVE STRONGLY CRITICIZED THE WHITE 
PAPER AT HIGH LEVELS OF THE GOI AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO. 
USING TALKING POINTS CONTAINED PARA 15, WE RECOMMEND THAT 
SENIOR USG OFFICIALS DIRECTLY CONFRONT KEY GOI LEADERS ON THE 
PAPER'S MOST SERIOUS MISSTATEMENTS -- THAT BIOTECH IS 
"POLLUTION," THAT U.S.-ORIGIN SEEDS ARE FLAWED, THAT BIOTECH 
MAY CAUSE THE NEXT BSE-TYPE EPIDEMIC, AND MORE.  BECAUSE SOME 
VARIETY OF POLICY PAPER INEVITABLY WILL BE INTRODUCED IN 
PARLIAMENT, THE USG SHOULD TRY TO PERSUADE THE GOI TO DRAFT A 
DOCUMENT BASED ON SOUND SCIENCE RATHER THAN SCARE-MONGERING. 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  01726  01 OF 05  080658Z 
SENIOR WASHINGTON INVOLVEMENT IS INDISPENSABLE TO REMIND PM 
BERLUSCONI THAT HE IS A FRIEND OF BIOTECH AND THAT ITALY'S 
INTERNATIONAL PRESTIGE DEMANDS A REVISITING OF THIS DOCUMENT. 
 DEPENDING ON THE RESULTS OF ACTIONS TAKEN PURSUANT TO REF A, 
POST MAY RECOMMEND THAT WASHINGTON INVOLVEMENT CULMINATE IN A 
DIRECT COMMUNICATION BETWEEN EITHER SECRETARY POWELL OR 
PRESIDENT BUSH AND BERLUSCONI (SEE PARA 12-14).  END SUMMARY. 
 
--------------- ------------------- ------------------- 
--------- 
ALEMANNO'S WHITE PAPER: ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY 
--------------- ------------------- ------------------- 
--------- 
 
2. (SBU)  AS DETAILED REF B, THE ITALIAN AGRICULTURE MINISTRY 
IS CIRCULATING AN UNDATED AND UNSIGNED WHITE PAPER ENTITLED 
"TRANSGENIC ORGANISMS AND AGRICULTURE: A TIME FOR CHOICES" 
ULTIMATELY INTENDED TO STIMULATE BIOTECH DEBATE IN 
PARLIAMENT. ANNOUNCING ON ITS SECOND OF 37 PAGES THAT THE EU 
IS SLOWLY LIBERALIZING RULES FOR USE OF "TRANSGENIC 
ORGANISMS," THE PAPER SOUNDS AN ALARM THAT ITALY'S CONTINUED 
DELAY IN DEBATING BIOTECHNOLOGY COULD LEAD BY DEFAULT TO A 
PROGRESSIVE PENETRATION OF THE ITALIAN MARKET BY TRANSGENIC 
PRODUCTS.  THE PAPER URGES IMMEDIATE DEBATE BEFORE THE 
QUESTION BECOMES MOOT AND ITALIANS HAVE BEEN DEPRIVED OF 
FREEDOM OF CHOICE ON AN ISSUE WITH PROFOUND ETHICAL, 
SANITARY, AND ECONOMIC REPERCUSSIONS. 
 
3. (SBU)  THE PAPER ALLEGES THAT EFFORTS TO DATE TO CALMLY 
EVALUATE THE POTENTIAL RISKS AND BENEFITS OF BIOTECHNOLOGY IN 
ITALY HAVE RESULTED ONLY IN IDEOLOGICAL POLARIZATION. 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  01726  01 OF 05  080658Z 
PRESUMABLY IN ORDER TO HELP FRAME A HIGHER ORDER OF DEBATE IN 
PARLIAMENT, THE PAPER SUGGESTS THAT THE ISSUE PRESENTED FOR 
CONSIDERATION SHOULD BE: "WHETHER THE TRANSGENIC OPTION IS 
COHERENT AND COMPATIBLE WITH THE PRODUCTIVE CHARACTERISTICS 
AND THE PROSPECTS FOR DEVELOPMENT OF OUR FOOD SYSTEM, LET 
ALONE WITH THE EXPECTATIONS THAT THE CITIZENS NURTURE 
REGARDING THE ROLE OF AGRICULTURE IN SOCIETY."  NOTE.  QUOTES 
FROM THE WHITE PAPER ARE INFORMAL EMBASSY TRANSLATIONS 
THROUGHOUT.  END NOTE 
 
4. (SBU) THE REMAINDER OF THE PAPER IS OSTENSIBLY AN EFFORT 
TO EXPLORE THIS QUESTION AND TO POSE DERIVATIVE QUESTIONS 
WITHOUT PRESUMING TO PRE-EMPT THE DEBATE BY SUGGESTING DIRECT 
ANSWERS.  THE DEBATE CONTEXTS THE PAPER WOULD EVIDENTLY LIKE 
PARLIAMENT TO ADOPT APPEAR IN THREE SUBSECTIONS, ENTITLED: 
"TRANSGENIC PRODUCTS AND THE PRODUCTIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF 
THE ITALIAN FOOD SYSTEM;" TRANSGENIC PRODUCTS AND THE 
TERRITORIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHARACTERISTICS OF OUR 
AGRICULTURE;" AND "TRANSGENIC PRODUCTS AND THE CONSUMER."  AT 
BASE, THE "PRODUCTIVE CHARACTERISTICS" OF THE ITALIAN 
AGRICULTURE SYSTEM TURN OUT TO BE VARIOUS ITALIAN PROGRAMS 
ATTACHING "TRADITIONAL" DESIGNATIONS TO SOME 3,000 
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS AND THE INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION FOR 
"QUALITY" THESE PRODUCTS HAVE WON FOR ITALIAN AGRICULTURE, 
AND THE "EXPECTATION" OF ITALIANS TURNS OUT TO BE THAT ITALY 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ6532 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  01726  02 OF 05  080658Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   AIT-03   ACQ-00   CEA-01 
      CIAE-00  COME-00  CTME-00  DODE-00  DOTE-00  PERC-00  SRPP-00 
      DS-00    EB-00    EXIM-01  E-00     FAAE-00  VC-00    FRB-00 
      HHS-01   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01   L-00     VCE-00 
      AC-01    NSAE-00  OES-01   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PC-01 
      PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SCT-00   SP-00    SSO-00 
      SS-00    STR-00   TRSE-00  T-00     USIE-00  BBG-00   EPAE-00 
      PMB-00   DSCC-00  DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /015W 
                  ------------------8073E3  080658Z /38 
P 080608Z APR 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3131 
HQ EPA WASHDC 
NSC 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 05 ROME 001726 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
EUR/ERA FOR HEN-NIL, 
EB FOR GADSDEN 
EB/TPP/ATT FOR PEREZ 
E FOR SHUB, 
OES A/S TURNER 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01726  02 OF 05  080658Z 
STATE PASS USTR FOR STROJE, NOVELLI 
STATE PASS USDA FOR APHIS:SMCCAMMON, USDA/FAS:BLUM 
USDA/FAS/ITT:EJONES, USDA/FAS/OA:SLUTSKY 
USDA/OS/HEGWOOD 
STATE PASS FDA FOR EFLAMM 
EPA FOR OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATOR 
NSC FOR EDSON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/07/2012 
TAGS: EAGR, ECON, ETRD, IT, PREL, TBIO, WTO 
SUBJECT: ITALY'S WRONG TURN ON BIOTECH: WHAT WE SHOULD DO 
 
WILL CONTINUE TO EMPHASIZE QUALITY OVER QUANTITY IN 
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION. 
 
5. (C)  THE READER NEED NOT BE PARTICULARLY DISCERNING IN 
ORDER TO FIND A STRONG ANTI-BIOTECH THEME BETWEEN THE LINES 
OF THE PAPER.  THE SHAPE OF THE DEBATE THE PAPER WOULD FOSTER 
EMERGES FROM THE DERIVATIVE PRESUMPTIONS AND QUESTIONS 
PRESENTED IN THESE THREE SUBSECTIONS.  THE PAPER CLEVERLY 
LINKS BIOTECHNOLOGY TO TWO OF THE MAJOR BOGEYMEN IN ITALIAN 
PUBLIC OPINION -- GLOBALIZATION AND MAD COW DISEASE. 
GLOBALIZATION IN THIS CONTEXT REFERS TO A SMALL CLIQUE OF 
HUGE MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS (MOSTLY AMERICAN) THAT 
MANUFACTURE HIGH VOLUME, LOW COST, "ENGINEERED" FOODS THAT 
"TEND INEVITABLY TO INTRODUCE A FLATTENING" OF QUALITY IN 
FAVOR OF COST CONTAINMENT AND PROFIT MAXIMIZATION.  THE 
CONSUMER VIEW IS PRESENTED PRIMARILY BY SUMMARIZING A PUBLIC 
OPINION SURVEY FINDING THAT ITALIANS MAY ACCEPT AGRICULTURAL 
BIOTECH AS A MEANS OF FEEDING THE THIRD WORLD, BUT 79 PERCENT 
BELIEVE ITS INTRODUCTION HERE WOULD DAMAGE THE ITALIAN FOOD 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  01726  02 OF 05  080658Z 
SYSTEM.  BSE IS SLIPPED INTO A DISCUSSION OF THE POTENTIAL 
PROPAGATION OF BIOTECH SEEDS AS AN EXAMPLE OF THE HORRORS 
THAT CAN DERIVE FROM A BIOLOGICAL  PHENOMENON THAT MAY BE 
CONTROLLABLE TODAY BUT MAY NOT BE CONTROLLABLE TOMORROW. 
 
HAVE YOU STOPPED BEATING YOUR WIFE AND OTHER QUESTIONS FOR 
DEBATE 
-------------------- -------------- -------------- 
------------ ------------ ---------- 
 
6. (C) THE PAPER WINDS THROUGH A MURKY MIXTURE OF DERIVATIVE 
QUESTIONS OFFERED FOR DEBATE AND PUTATIVE SCIENTIFIC AXIOMS 
THAT PROGRESSIVELY STEER THE DISCUSSION TOWARDS ANTI-BIOTECH 
POLITICAL CONCLUSIONS AND AWAY FROM SCIENCE-BASED DEBATE. 
THE SUBSECTION ON THE ITALIAN FOOD SYSTEM IS ILLUSTRATIVE. 
THE SUBSECTION FIRST SUGGESTS, RATHER NEUTRALLY, THAT "THE 
QUESTION POSED IS WHETHER AND IN WHAT MEASURE THE DECISION TO 
IMPROVE QUALITY CAN BE COMPATIBLE WITH USE OF TRANSGENIC 
ORGANISMS."  IN CASE THE READER HAS DIFFICULTY ANSWERING THE 
QUESTION, THE PAPER OFFERS A LESS SUBTLE REPHRASING: "WE MUST 
CALMLY EVALUATE WHETHER THE IMAGE AND CREDIBILITY OF OUR FOOD 
SYSTEM CAN BE DAMAGED BY THE PRESENCE OF TRANSGENIC ORGANISMS 
THAT, LEAVING ASIDE CONSIDERATION OF NEGATIVE AFFECTS ON 
HEALTH AND FOOD QUALITY, CARRY A STIGMA OF INDUSTRIAL 
ENGINEERING THAT APPEARS TO BE IN COMPLETE CONFLICT WITH THE 
WORLD'S IMAGE OF OUR FOOD PRODUCTS."  FOR THE TRULY DENSE, 
THE PAPER PROVIDES A SLEDGEHAMMER THIRD FORMULATION: "THIS 
EVALUATION MUST, MOREOVER, TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE COLLECTIVE 
INTEREST IN PRESERVING THE BIOLOGIC PATRIMONY OF OUR 
AGRICULTURE FROM THE INEVITABLE GENETIC POLLUTION DERIVING 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  01726  02 OF 05  080658Z 
FROM THE INTRODUCTION OF TRANSGENIC ORGANISMS." 
 
7. (C) THE SUBSECTION ON ITALIAN LAND AND ENVIRONMENT ALSO 
SHOWS PROGRESSIVE SHRILLNESS AND LOSS OF OBJECTIVITY.  THE 
SUBSECTION FIRST SUGGESTS THAT "RELATIONS OF THE DIVERSE 
FORMS OF AGRICULTURE AMONG THEMSELVES AND BETWEEN THEM AND 
NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS ARE TWO ASPECTS TO CONSIDER WITH 
PARTICULAR ATTENTION AS WE EVALUATE THE BENEFITS OF USING OR 
NOT USING TRANSGENIC PRODUCTS."  A BLAND DISCUSSION OF THE 
DESIRABILITY OF AVOIDING POLLUTION QUICKLY MORPHS TO A 
CONDEMNATION OF "GENETIC POLLUTION" AND WE HAVE: "WE MUST BE 
AWARE THAT THE EVENTUAL IMPOSSIBILITY OF SEPARATING THE TWO 
LINES (GMO AND GMO-FREE) AND AVOIDING GENETIC POLLUTION COULD 
PRODUCE A SITUATION OF OBVIOUS INCOMPATIBILITY WITH THE 
MAINTENANCE OF ACTIVITIES -- SUCH AS ORGANIC FARMING AND 
PRODUCTION OF QUALITY PRODUCTS (FOR EXAMPLE PARMIGIANO 
CHEESE) -- THAT DO NOT ALLOW EITHER USE OR CONTAMINATION BY 
TRANSGENIC PRODUCTS."  THE SUBSECTION ENDS BY REMOVING ANY 
PRETENSE OF OBJECTIVITY: "IT IS EVIDENT THAT USE OF 
TRANSGENIC PRODUCTS COULD PRODUCE POLLUTION THAT COULD MEAN 
THE LOSS OF THOSE CHARACTERISTICS THAT TODAY DIFFERENTIATE 
OUR AGRICULTURE IN THE MARKETPLACE."  PRESUMABLY, PARLIAMENT 
IS LEFT TO DEBATE WHETHER ITALY SHOULD ALLOW CHEAP, LOW 
QUALITY IMPORTS INTO ITS MARKET IN THE CERTAIN KNOWLEDGE THAT 
DOING SO WILL DESTROY ITALIAN AGRICULTURE. 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ6533 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  01726  03 OF 05  080659Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   AIT-03   ACQ-00   CEA-01 
      CIAE-00  COME-00  CTME-00  DODE-00  DOTE-00  PERC-00  SRPP-00 
      DS-00    EB-00    EXIM-01  E-00     FAAE-00  VC-00    FRB-00 
      HHS-01   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01   L-00     VCE-00 
      AC-01    NSAE-00  OES-01   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PC-01 
      PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SCT-00   SP-00    SSO-00 
      SS-00    STR-00   TRSE-00  T-00     USIE-00  BBG-00   EPAE-00 
      PMB-00   DSCC-00  DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /015W 
                  ------------------8073EA  080659Z /38 
P 080608Z APR 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3132 
HQ EPA WASHDC 
NSC 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 03 OF 05 ROME 001726 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
EUR/ERA FOR HEN-NIL, 
EB FOR GADSDEN 
EB/TPP/ATT FOR PEREZ 
E FOR SHUB, 
OES A/S TURNER 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01726  03 OF 05  080659Z 
STATE PASS USTR FOR STROJE, NOVELLI 
STATE PASS USDA FOR APHIS:SMCCAMMON, USDA/FAS:BLUM 
USDA/FAS/ITT:EJONES, USDA/FAS/OA:SLUTSKY 
USDA/OS/HEGWOOD 
STATE PASS FDA FOR EFLAMM 
EPA FOR OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATOR 
NSC FOR EDSON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/07/2012 
TAGS: EAGR, ECON, ETRD, IT, PREL, TBIO, WTO 
SUBJECT: ITALY'S WRONG TURN ON BIOTECH: WHAT WE SHOULD DO 
 
8. (C) THE ITALIAN FOOD SYSTEM SUBSECTION NEVER RETURNS TO 
THE LEFT ASIDE DISCUSSION OF POSSIBLE HEALTH AND FOOD QUALITY 
EFFECTS OF BIOTECH.  IN FACT, SO MARGINALIZED IS SCIENCE IN 
THIS DOCUMENT THAT NOWHERE IN ITS 37 PAGES ARE THE SUPPOSEDLY 
AXIOMATIC HEATH AND FOOD QUALITY EFFECTS DOCUMENTED. 
ALEMANNO'S EVIDENT FEAR OF SCIENCE (HE IS A HIGH-SCHOOL 
GRADUATE WHO CLAIMED NO EXPERTISE IN AGRICULTURE PRIOR TO 
LANDING THE JOB AS MINISTER) LEAVES MANY OF THE PAPER'S 
CONCLUSIONS HANGING WITHOUT FOUNDATION AND MAY MAKE EASIER 
THE TASK OF OPPOSING THE PROPOSED POLICY.  RATHER THAN 
SUMMARIZING REASONED SCIENTIFIC CONCERN ABOUT PROSPECTS FOR 
MAINTAINING A BIOTECH-FREE PRODUCTION OPTION WHEN 
CONVENTIONAL SEEDS ARE PLANTED IN PROXIMITY TO BIOTECH SEEDS, 
THE SUBSECTION ON LAND AND THE ENVIRONMENT CONDEMNS ALL 
BIOTECH PRODUCTS AS EVENTUALLY AND INEVITABLY POLLUTING 
ITALIAN PRODUCTION OR CONTAMINATING THE IMAGE OF ITALIAN 
PRODUCTS. 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  01726  03 OF 05  080659Z 
---------------------- 
WORST OF THE REST 
---------------------- 
 
9. (SBU) FOLLOWING IS COMMENTARY ON OTHER PROBLEMATIC ASPECTS 
OF THE WHITE PAPER. 
 
-- REJECT U.S. SEEDS.  THE PAPER SUGGESTS THAT "THE 
PHENOMENON OF UNCONTROLLED CONTAMINATION" BY TRANSGENIC 
ORGANISMS CAN BE AVOIDED ONLY BY ENACTING INCENTIVES FOR 
ITALIAN SEED SELF-SUFFIENCY AND, IN THE MEANWHILE, BY 
DEVELOPING SUPPLY CHANNELS WITH COUNTRIES THAT CAN CERTIFY 
SEEDS AS BIOTECH-FREE AND AVOIDING IMPORT OF SEEDS FROM OTHER 
SOURCES AND, IN PARTICULAR, THE "UNITED STATES FROM WHERE, 
ACCORDING TO THE CHECKS EFFECTED BY THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH, 
MOST CONTAMINATED SEEDS ORIGINATE."  IN MAKING THIS 
DISCRIMINATORY SUGGESTION, THE PAPER MAKES NO MENTION THAT 
THE U.S. SEED PRODUCERS CAN, FOR A PREMIUM, PRODUCE CERTIFIED 
GMO-FREE SEED. 
 
-- SCIENCE: PERSUASION BY OMISSION.  IN THE NAME OF 
ELIMINATING "USELESS AND DAMAGING" POLEMICS, THE PAPER SIMPLY 
OMITS OPPOSING ARGUMENTS.  NOT A SINGLE SCIENTIFIC CITATION 
IS INCLUDED IN THE 37 PAGE PAPER, AND THE FIFTEEN YEARS OF EU 
FUNDED RESEARCH RECENTLY SUMMARIZED IN A EUROPEAN COMMISSION 
REPORT IS NOT MENTIONED.   THE ADVANCES IN ITALIAN 
BIOTECHNOLOGY, INCLUDING VIRAL AND FUNGAL RESISTANT PRODUCTS 
NOW READY FOR FIELD TESTING, ARE IGNORED.  THE ENVIRONMENTAL 
BENEFITS OF REDUCED USAGE OF HERBICIDES AND PESTICIDES, AS 
WELL THE PRODUCTION BENEFITS OF DROUGHT TOLERANCE AND STRESS 
RESISTANCE ARE OVERLOOKED.  THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS TO 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  01726  03 OF 05  080659Z 
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES ARE QUICKLY SHUNTED ASIDE AS NOT 
RELEVANT TO QUALITY CONSCIOUS ITALIAN CONSUMERS. 
 
-- INTERPRET EU SAFEGUARDS CLAUSE AS OPT-OUT CLAUSE.  THE 
PAPER DESCRIBES ARTICLE 16 OF EU DIRECTIVE 90/220 AND ARTICLE 
12 OF RULE 258/97 AS RESERVING TO INDIVIDUAL MEMBER STATES 
THE RIGHT "TO SUSPEND COMMERCIALIZATION ON ITS TERRITORY OF A 
TRANSGENIC PRODUCT WHENEVER THAT STATE DETERMINES, FOR VALID 
SCIENTIFIC REASONS, THAT IT IS NOXIOUS FOR HUMAN HEALTH AND 
THE ENVIRONMENT.  ARTICLE 23 OF NEW EU DIRECTIVE 2001/18, 
ACCORDING TO THE WHITE PAPER, CONTINUES TO ALLOW INDIVIDUAL 
MEMBER STATES TO LIMIT OR PROHIBIT THE USE OR SALE ON ITS 
TERRITORY OF ANY PRODUCT AUTHORIZED BY THE COMMISSION." 
PERHAPS LOOKING TO EXPAND ON ITALY'S OWN PRECEDENT, THE PAPER 
MAKES NO MENTION OF THE "VALID SCIENTIFIC REASON" 
PREREQUISITE TO WHICH THE GOI AT LEAST PAID LIP SERVICE IN 
ENACTING ITS 2000 BAN ON FOUR VARIETIES OF BIOTECH CORN 
APPROVED FOR COMMERCIALIZATION BY THE EU. 
 
 -- ITALY CAN REJECT BIOTECH WITHOUT VIOLATING EU NORMS.  THE 
PAPER SUGGESTS THAT ITALY MAY CHOOSE TO GO ITS OWN WAY ON 
BIOTECH POLICY.  "WITHOUT DOUBT RECENT EVOLUTION OF EU 
LEGISLATION INTRODUCES A GROWING OPENING TO THE USE OF 
BIOTECHNOLOGY.  THIS, HOWEVER, DOES NOT MEAN THAT, WITH ALL 
DUE RESPECT FOR THE NORMS, OUR FOOD SYSTEM CANNOT CHOOSE ITS 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ6534 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  01726  04 OF 05  080659Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   AIT-03   ACQ-00   CEA-01 
      CIAE-00  COME-00  CTME-00  DODE-00  DOTE-00  PERC-00  SRPP-00 
      DS-00    EB-00    EXIM-01  E-00     FAAE-00  VC-00    FRB-00 
      HHS-01   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01   L-00     VCE-00 
      AC-01    NSAE-00  OES-01   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PC-01 
      PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SCT-00   SP-00    SSO-00 
      SS-00    STR-00   TRSE-00  T-00     USIE-00  BBG-00   EPAE-00 
      PMB-00   DSCC-00  DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /015W 
                  ------------------8073F1  080659Z /38 
P 080608Z APR 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3133 
HQ EPA WASHDC 
NSC 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 04 OF 05 ROME 001726 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
EUR/ERA FOR HEN-NIL, 
EB FOR GADSDEN 
EB/TPP/ATT FOR PEREZ 
E FOR SHUB, 
OES A/S TURNER 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01726  04 OF 05  080659Z 
STATE PASS USTR FOR STROJE, NOVELLI 
STATE PASS USDA FOR APHIS:SMCCAMMON, USDA/FAS:BLUM 
USDA/FAS/ITT:EJONES, USDA/FAS/OA:SLUTSKY 
USDA/OS/HEGWOOD 
STATE PASS FDA FOR EFLAMM 
EPA FOR OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATOR 
NSC FOR EDSON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/07/2012 
TAGS: EAGR, ECON, ETRD, IT, PREL, TBIO, WTO 
SUBJECT: ITALY'S WRONG TURN ON BIOTECH: WHAT WE SHOULD DO 
 
OWN WAY OF DEVELOPMENT UNLINKED TO TRANSGENICS.  FORSEEING A 
GREATER OPENING FOR TRANSGENIC ORGANISMS DOES NOT MEAN, IN 
FACT, A PROHIBITION THAT, IF DEEMED BENEFICIAL, WE COULD 
FOLLOW THE OBJECTIVE OF HAVING AN GMO-FREE FOOD SYSTEM." 
 
----------------------------------- 
WHAT WE ARE DOING ABOUT IT 
----------------------------------- 
 
10. (C) POST REACTED QUICKLY AND STRONGLY TO THE ADVENT OF 
THE WHITE PAPER.  AMBASSADOR SEMBLER MET SEPARATELY WITH 
MINISTER OF HEALTH SIRCHIA AND MINISTER OF EDUCATION AND 
RESEARCH MORATTI, FOUND EACH UNAWARE OF THE PAPER, PRESENTED 
COPIES, AND -- AFTER ELICITING REACTIONS FAVORABLE TO OUR 
INTERESTS -- POINTED THEM TO EACH OTHER AS POTENTIAL ALLIES 
WITHIN THE BERLUSCONI CABINET.  SIRCHIA HAS ASKED FOR A 
POSITION PAPER FROM US AND MORATTI ASKED FOR TALKING POINTS 
SHE MIGHT USE WITHIN THE GOI.  BOTH WILL BE DELIVERED THIS 
WEEK.  THE AMBASSADOR ALSO WROTE ENVIRONMENT MINISTER 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  01726  04 OF 05  080659Z 
MATTEOLI TO ASK HIS ASSISTANCE IN FURTHERING SCIENCE-BASED 
DISCUSSIONS.  VISITING CONGRESSMAN BILL YOUNG MADE SIMILAR 
APPROACHES TO HIS LONG-TIME FRIEND AND PROTEGE  DEPUTY PRIME 
MINISTER GIANFRANCO FINI AND TO DEPUTY MINISTER FOR 
INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADOLFO URSO AT THE AMBASSADOR'S REQUEST. 
THE DCM MET WITH GIANI CASTELLANETA, PM BERLUSCONI'S TOP 
DIPLOMATIC ADVISOR, EDUCATED HIM ON THE ISSUE, AND ELICITED A 
PROMISE TO LOOK CAREFULLY INTO OUR CONCERNS. 
 
11. (C) BY SEPTEL, THE AMBASSADOR IS APPEALING DIRECTLY TO 
AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VENNEMAN, EPA ADMINISTRATOR WHITMAN, 
UNDERSECRETARY LARSON, AND NSC SENIOR ADVISOR EDSON TO 
COMMUNICATE DIRECTLY WITH THEIR ITALIAN COUNTERPARTS. 
APPROPRIATE TALKING POINTS, ETC. ARE BEING COORDINATED 
BETWEEN POST AND WASHINGTON AGENCIES. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
WHAT MORE WE SHOULD DO ABOUT IT 
------------------------------------------- 
 
12. (C) AS POST REPEATS IN EVERY AVAILABLE CONTEXT, THE GOI 
DECISIONS ON BIOTECH ULTIMATELY ARE TAKEN BY ONLY ONE SOURCE 
-- PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI.  MINISTER ALEMANNO HAS TAKEN 
THE INITIATIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE THE PM HAS BEEN SILENT FOR 
SEVERAL MONTHS, AND A VACUUM HAS THUS BEEN CREATED. 
BERLUSCONI CAN CERTAINLY REIN IN ALEMANNO AT THIS POINT, 
ALTHOUGH THAT CONTROL BECOMES MOOT WHEN PARLIAMENT GETS THE 
DOCUMENT AND BEGINS ITS OWN DEBATE. 
 
13. (C)  WE HAVE BEEN SURPRISED BY THE LACK OF AWARENESS EVEN 
OF THE EXISTENCE OF THE ALEMANNO WHITE PAPER WITHIN THE GOI. 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  01726  04 OF 05  080659Z 
THE COPIES DISTRIBUTED WITHIN THE VARIOUS MINISTRIES SEEM TO 
HAVE COME ONLY FROM US.  WE ARE PUTTING TOGETHER A CLIQUE OF 
RIGHT-MINDED MINISTERS WITHIN THE CABINET AND BRIEFING SENIOR 
ADVISORS ACROSS THE GOI. 
 
14. (C) HOWEVER, THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR USG COMMUNICATION 
WITH THE PM.  BERLUSCONI IS, AT LEAST FOR THE NEXT SEVERAL 
WEEKS, ITALY'S FOREIGN MINISTER AS WELL AS ITS PRIME 
MINISTER.  SECRETARY POWELL, THEREFORE, WOULD HAVE A PROTOCOL 
ENTREE WITH FOREIGN MINISTER BERLUSCONI THAT MAY PROVE OF 
GREAT VALUE AND PAVE THE WAY FOR A PRESIDENT BUSH-PRIME 
MINISTER BERLUSCONI COMMUNICATION.  DEPENDING ON THE RESULTS 
OF ACTIONS TAKEN PURSUANT TO REF A, POST MAY RECOMMEND THAT 
WASHINGTON INVOLVEMENT CULMINATE IN THIS HIGHER LEVEL DIRECT 
COMMUNICATION. 
 
15.  (SBU) THE FOLLOWING ARE SUGGESTED TALKING POINTS FOR USE 
IN PRIMING THE VARIOUS COMMUNICATION CHANNELS WE PROPOSE 
ACTIVATING. 
 
-- THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE IS CIRCULATING AN UNSIGNED 
DRAFT PAPER ENTITLED "TRANSGENIC ORGANISMS AND AGRICULTURE: 
THE TIME FOR CHOICES."   PRESUMABLY THIS IS AN EARLY VERSION 
OF THE POLICY PAPER MINISTER ALEMANNO HAS ANNOUNCED HE 
INTENDS TO BRING BEFORE THE PARLIAMENT. 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
                           CONFIDENTIAL     PTQ6535 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  01726  05 OF 05  080659Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   AIT-03   ACQ-00   CEA-01 
      CIAE-00  COME-00  CTME-00  DODE-00  DOTE-00  PERC-00  SRPP-00 
      DS-00    EB-00    EXIM-01  E-00     FAAE-00  VC-00    FRB-00 
      HHS-01   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01   L-00     VCE-00 
      AC-01    NSAE-00  OES-01   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PC-01 
      PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00   P-00     SCT-00   SP-00    SSO-00 
      SS-00    STR-00   TRSE-00  T-00     USIE-00  BBG-00   EPAE-00 
      PMB-00   DSCC-00  DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /015W 
                  ------------------8073F5  080659Z /38 
P 080608Z APR 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3134 
HQ EPA WASHDC 
NSC 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 05 OF 05 ROME 001726 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
EUR/ERA FOR HEN-NIL, 
EB FOR GADSDEN 
EB/TPP/ATT FOR PEREZ 
E FOR SHUB, 
OES A/S TURNER 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  01726  05 OF 05  080659Z 
STATE PASS USTR FOR STROJE, NOVELLI 
STATE PASS USDA FOR APHIS:SMCCAMMON, USDA/FAS:BLUM 
USDA/FAS/ITT:EJONES, USDA/FAS/OA:SLUTSKY 
USDA/OS/HEGWOOD 
STATE PASS FDA FOR EFLAMM 
EPA FOR OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATOR 
NSC FOR EDSON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/07/2012 
TAGS: EAGR, ECON, ETRD, IT, PREL, TBIO, WTO 
SUBJECT: ITALY'S WRONG TURN ON BIOTECH: WHAT WE SHOULD DO 
 
-- LATER THIS YEAR, THE EU WILL BEGIN IMPLEMENTING PROCEDURES 
FOR APPROVING NEW FOOD PRODUCTS, INCLUDING BIOTECHNOLOGY FOOD 
PRODUCTS, FOR COMMERCIALIZATION ACROSS THE EU COMMON MARKET. 
THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION WILL CONTINUE TO CONSIDER PROPOSALS 
FOR MONITORING BIOTECHNOLOGY FOOD PRODUCTS ALREADY APPROVED. 
 
-- AS A MEMBER STATE, IT IS OF COURSE PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE 
THAT ITALY DEVELOP NATIONAL POSITIONS AS EVENTS IN BRUSSELS 
GET UNDERWAY. 
 
-- MINISTER ALEMANNO INTENDS TO STIMULATE DISCUSSION LEADING 
ULTIMATELY TO A NATIONAL BIOTECHNOLOGY POLICY.  AGAIN, THAT 
IS OF COURSE PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE. 
 
-- THIS PAPER, HOWEVER, IS OF SERIOUS CONCERN TO MANY IN THE 
SCIENTIFIC AND BUSINESS COMMUNITIES.  THE PAPER DISMISSES 
SCIENCE AS A DISRUPTIVE INFLUENCE IN POLICY DELIBERATIONS AND 
WOULD BASE ITALIAN BIOTECHNOLOGY POLICY ON PUBLIC OPINION 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  01726  05 OF 05  080659Z 
SURVEYS AND THE BASELESS PRONOUNCEMENT THAT BIOTECHNOLOGY IS 
"POLLUTION" FROM WHICH ITALY MUST BE PROTECTED. 
 
-- CONTINUING IN THIS VEIN, THE PAPER PLAYS UPON PUBLIC FEARS 
BY ASSOCIATING BIOTECHNOLOGY WITH THE FORCES OF GLOBALIZATION 
AND EVEN HINTS, WITH NO SCIENTIFIC BASIS WHATSOEVER, THAT 
BIOTECHNOLOGY MAY TRIGGER THE NEXT BSE-TYPE EPIDEMIC. 
 
-- SOME MONTHS AGO, PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI REFORMED THE 
COMMISSION FOR BIOTECHNOLOGY AND BIOSECURITY, CHAIRED BY 
PROFESSOR LEONARDO SANTI, TO HELP SHAPE THE ITALIAN 
GOVERNMENT'S POLICY ON BIOTECHNOLOGY.  THE SANTI COMMISSION 
INCLUDES REPRESENTATIVES FROM ALL ITALIAN MINISTRIES AS WELL 
AS INTERESTED PARTIES FROM INDUSTRY AND CONSUMER GROUPS. 
 
-- THE PSEUDO-SCIENCE INCLUDED IN THE AGRICULTURE MINISTRY'S 
PAPER MAKES CLEAR THAT THE SANTI COMMISSION WAS NOT CONSULTED 
IN ITS DRAFTING.  NEITHER, EVIDENTLY, WAS THE BROADER 
SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY.  RATHER, THE PAPER APPEARS TO BE THE 
PRODUCT OF SPECIAL INTERESTS AND A SMALL GROUP OF 
ANTI-BIOTECH ZEALOTS PURSUING THEIR OWN AGENDA. 
 
-- THIS PAPER NEEDS TO BE CORRECTED BEFORE IT GETS TO 
PARLIAMENT AND STARTS TO BUILD MOMENTUM. 
 
-- THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS SHOULD ENSURE THAT THE PRIME 
MINISTER'S SANTI COMMISSION IS MADE INTEGRAL TO ITALIAN 
BIOTECHNOLOGY POLICY DEVELOPMENT.MADE INTEGRAL TO ITALIAN 
BIOTECHNOLOGY POLICY DEVELOPMENT. 
SEMBLER 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  01726  05 OF 05  080659Z 
 
                       CONFIDENTIAL 
 
> 
 2002ROME01726 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL 


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