US embassy cable - 02ROME2999

GOOD AND BAD SCIENCE TAKE CENTER STAGE IN BIOTECH DEBATE

Identifier: 02ROME2999
Wikileaks: View 02ROME2999 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Rome
Created: 2002-06-19 13:50:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: EAGR ETRD TSPL TBIO EAID ETRD TSPL TBIO EAID ETRD TSPL TBIO EAID ETRD TSPL TBIO EAID ETRD TSPL TBIO EAID IT ITEAGR ITEAGR ITEAGR ITEAGR
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 05 ROME 002999 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
EUR/ERA FOR HEN-NIL 
EB FOR GADSEN 
EB/TPP/ATT FOR PEREZ 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  02999  01 OF 05  191328Z 
E FOR SHUB 
OES A/S TURNER, PDAS ROCK 
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, CLOUD 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAGR, ETRD, TSPL, TBIO, EAID, ETRD, TSPL, TBIO, EAID, ETRD, TSPL, TBIO, EAID, ETRD, TSPL, TBIO, EAID, ETRD, TSPL, TBIO, EAID, IT, ITEAGR, ITEAGR, ITEAGR, ITEAGR 
SUBJECT: GOOD AND BAD SCIENCE TAKE CENTER STAGE IN BIOTECH 
DEBATE 
 
REF: A. A. ROME 1965 
 
     B. B. ROME 2765 
 
1.  (U) THIS CABLE IS SENSTIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED.  IT IS NOT 
INTENDED FOR DISTRIBUTION ON THE INTERTET. 
 
2.  (U) THIS IS AN ACTION MESSAGE FOR OES WHICH REQUESTS 
REPLY TO REF A TRANSMITTED APRIL 22, 2002.  ALSO SEE PARA 19. 
 
3.  (SBU) SUMMARY.  THE ROLE OF SCIENCE IN THE ITALIAN 
BIOTECHNOLOGY DEBATE IS GROWING, THANKS IN PART TO EMBASSY 
EFFORTS.  IN THE LAST TEN DAYS, TWO DEBATES FEATURING LEADING 
U.S. AND ITALIAN SCIENTISTS HAVE BEEN WELL COVERED BY THE 
MEDIA AND HAVE THROWN INTO QUESTION THE UNSCIENTIFIC 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  02999  01 OF 05  191328Z 
FOUNDATIONS USED BY AGMIN ALEMANNO TO POSIT HIS "TIME FOR 
CHOICES" WHITE PAPER.  ALEMANNO'S TEAM IS REGARDED WITH 
SKEPTICISM AND EVEN CONTEMPT BY THE ITALIAN SCIENTIFIC 
COMMUNITY.  AT THE MINISTER'S JUNE 4 STAGE-MANAGED PUBLIC 
ROLL-OUT OF HIS WHITE PAPER, OUTDATED AND SUPERSEDED RESEARCH 
WAS PRESENTED AS GOSPEL, SECONDED BY A THEOLOGIAN, AND 
COMMENTED ON FROM THE FLOOR BY A PRESELECTED GROUP OF 
PRO-ALEMANNO, ANTI-GMO PROPONENTS. 
 
4.  (SBU) SUMMARY CONTINUED.  OTHER ELEMENTS OF THE GOI 
APPEAR MORE AND MORE WILLING TO ENDORSE SCIENCE AND RESEARCH 
AS A WAY TO OPPOSE THE ALEMANNO LUDDITES AND THEIR ANTI-GMO 
PROPOSALS. THE MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT, IN ON-THE-RECORD 
ADDRESSES AT THE DG AND U/S LEVELS, ENDORSED THE NEED FOR 
SCIENCE-BASED POLICY, STRONG U.S.-ITALIAN RESEARCH 
COOPERATION, AND USING THAT COOPERATION TO REOPEN A BROADER 
U.S.-EU DIALOGUE DURING THE 2003 ITALIAN PRESIDENCY. THE PM'S 
NATIONAL BIOTECHNOLOGY COMMISSION PRESIDENT HAS SPOKEN 
SIMILARLY, AND TOLD US WE SHOULD EXPECT ENDORSEMENT OF THE 
PRINCIPLES OF COOPERATION DOCUMENT DESCRIBED REF A FROM THE 
PM'S OFFICE BY THE END OF JUNE.  LAST, BUT BY NO MEANS LEAST, 
THE PRIME MINISTER, CONTINUING TO FIND HIS WAY WITH CAUTION, 
HAS SAID THAT ITALY MUST REMAIN OPEN TO RESEARCH, AND LOOK TO 
THE EXPERIENCE OF OTHER COUNTRIES. THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY WE 
SHOULD NOT FAIL TO EXPLOIT. SEE EMBASSY ANALYSIS STARTING 
PARA 16.END SUMMARY. 
 
RAISING THE BAR ON FEAR-MONGERING? 
 
5.  (U) THE ITALIAN SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY HAS REMAINED 
STEADFASTLY PRO-BIOTECHNOLOGY, BUT HAS BEEN RELUCTANT TO 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  02999  01 OF 05  191328Z 
EXPRESS ITS VIEWS DUE TO FEARS OF REPRISALS FROM 
GOVERNMENT(E.G. DISCRIMINATORY CUTBACKS IN ALREADY SCARCE 
RESEARCH FUNDING) AND ACTIONS BY ANTI-GMO GROUPS WHO HAVE 
DISRUPTED OR DESTROYED EXPERIMENTS INVOLVING GMO PLANTS AT A 
RESEARCH PLOT NEAR VITERBO AS RECENTLY AS TWO WEEKS AGO.  IN 
THE FIRST DAYS OF THE BERLUSCONI GOVERNMENT, THERE WAS HOPE 
THAT A PRO-SCIENCE, PRO-BUSINESS GOVERNMENT WOULD ACT QUICKLY 
TO OPEN THE WAY FOR RESUMED BIOTECHNOLOGY RESEARCH.  IN THE 
LAST SIX MONTHS, AS THE CONTOURS OF ALEMANNO'S ANTI-BIOTECH 
POLICIES HAVE BECOME CLEARER, THAT HOPE HAS FADED. 
SCIENTISTS NOW BELIEVE THAT THE PRIME MINISTER ALONE CAN 
OPPOSE ALEMANNO'S PROPOSED POLICY, AND THEY ARE TRYING TO 
HELP EXPOSE THE SHABBY SCIENTIFIC UNDERPINNINGS OF THE 
AGRICULTURE MINISTER'S WHITE PAPER BY CONDUCTING THEIR OWN 
PROGRAMS WHICH SHOW THE BENEFITS OF THE TECHNOLOGY. 
 
6.  (SBU) THE SCIENTISTS ARE ASSISTED IN THEIR EFFORTS TO 
CREATE A PUBLIC FOR THEIR DISCUSSIONS BY A HANDFUL OF 
ORGANIZATIONS.  PROMINENT AMONG THEM HAS BEEN THE EINAUDI 
FOUNDATION, WHOSE "OBSERVATORY FOR BIOETHICS" HAS SPONSORED A 
NUMBER OF PRO-BIOTECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS IN THE LAST YEAR.  MOST 
RECENTLY, ON MAY 31 AND JUNE 1, THE EINAUDI FOUNDATION 
ORGANIZED A TWO DAY PROGRAM ON PLANT VACCINES AND ENHANCING 
NUTRITION IN FOODS USING BIOTECHNOLOGY.  ABOUT 250 PEOPLE, 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ4238 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  02999  02 OF 05  191328Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00  COME-00 
      CTME-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  ITCE-00  DOTE-00  SRPP-00  MEDE-00 
      EB-00    EXME-00  E-00     FAAE-00  UTED-00  VC-00    FRB-00 
      HHS-01   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01   L-00     NASA-01 
      AC-01    NSAE-00  OES-01   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PM-00    ACE-00 
      SP-00    SSO-00   SS-00    STR-00   TEST-00  TRSE-00  USIE-00 
      EPAE-00  ECA-00   PMB-00   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00 
        /011W 
                  ------------------BF77D2  191329Z /38 
R 191350Z JUN 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4327 
HQ EPA WASHDC 
USDA WASHDC 
NSC WASHDC 
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE 
AMCONSUL FLORENCE 
AMCONSUL MILAN 
AMCONSUL NAPLES 
 
UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 05 ROME 002999 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
EUR/ERA FOR HEN-NIL 
EB FOR GADSEN 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  02999  02 OF 05  191328Z 
EB/TPP/ATT FOR PEREZ 
E FOR SHUB 
OES A/S TURNER, PDAS ROCK 
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, CLOUD 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAGR, ETRD, TSPL, TBIO, EAID, IT 
SUBJECT: GOOD AND BAD SCIENCE TAKE CENTER STAGE IN BIOTECH 
DEBATE 
 
MOSTLY PRO-BIOTECH, ATTENDED THIS PROGRAM AT THE CENTER FOR 
NATIONAL RESEARCH. DR. CHARLES ARNTZEN OF ARIZONA STATE 
UNIVERSITY, SUPPORTED IN PART BY THE EMBASSY, WAS THE MAIN 
U.S. SPEAKER.  DR. INGO POTRYKUS, INVENTOR OF GOLDEN RICE, 
LED THE NUTRITIONAL ENHANCEMENT DISCUSSIONS.  THE MAIN TALKS 
WERE BROADCAST ON RADIO RADIKALE, AND LOCAL MEDIA AND PRESS 
INTERVIEWED DR. ARNTZEN. 
 
7.  (U) THE WORKSHOP WAS OPENED BY THE MINISTRY OF 
ENVIRONMENT(DG CLINI, WHO HAD TOLD US THE PREVIOUS DAY THAT 
THE MINISTER HAD AGREED TO EXPLORE A MORE OPEN APPROACH TO 
BIOTECHNOLOGY). THE BRIEF STATEMENT POINTED OUT THAT EUROPE 
WAS NOT, AND COULD NOT BE, GM FREE, THAT RESEARCH, INCLUDING 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  02999  02 OF 05  191328Z 
STRONG PARTNERSHIP WITH THE U.S, WAS ESSENTIAL TO 
UNDERSTANDING THE POTENTIAL OF BIOTECHNOLOGY, AND THAT ITALY 
HAD TO TAKE POLICY DECISIONS IN A EUROPEAN AND LARGER 
CONTEXT.  EST COUNS SPOKE ON THE NEED FOR POSITIVE 
STEWARDSHIP IN POLICY FORMULATION WITH PARTICULAR NEED TO 
SEPARATE EMOTIONAL SPECULATION AND OPINION POLLS FROM THE 
VERIFIABLE AND SYSTEMATIC INQUIRIES OF SCIENCE. LEONARDI 
SANTI, PRESIDENT OF THE PRIME MINISTER'S COMMITTEE ON 
BIOTECHNOLOGY, SAID THAT ITALY WOULD SOON CONCLUDE AN 
AGREEMENT ON RESEARCH WITH THE U.K. AND THAT THE PM'S OFFICE 
STRONGLY SUPPORTED A RESEARCH AGREEMENT WITH THE UNITED 
STATES. 
 
8.  (U) ARNTZEN AND POTRYKUS WERE THE MOST EFFECTIVE 
SPEAKERS. ARNTZEN OUTLINED RESEARCH WHICH PROMISED AN EDIBLE 
PLANT-BASED VACCINE FOR HEPATITIS B WITHIN 5 YEARS.  POTRYKUS 
DELIVERED A CHILLING CRITICISM OF THE EU REGULATORY SYSTEM 
THAT WAS HAMPERING THE DISSEMINATION OF GOLDEN RICE AND OTHER 
NUTRITIONAL ENHANCEMENTS, SUCH AS IRON, WHICH HE CLAIMED 
COULD SAVE UP TO 40,000 LIVES A DAY IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD. 
 
9.  (U) ON JUNE 6, ASSOBIOTECH, THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL 
ASSOCIATION,  PRESENTED A HALF-DAY PROGRAM TO PRESENT A STUDY 
OF ITALIAN "TYPICAL" PRODUCTS AT RISK FROM PESTS AND DISEASES 
WHICH COULD BE IMPROVED BY BIOTECHNOLOGIES.  PROFESSOR 
FRANCESCO SALA OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MILAN INTRODUCED THE 
STUDY, AND HIS PRESENTATION WAS SUPPORTED BY OTHER 
SCIENTISTS, WHOSE REMARKS WERE INTERRUPTED BY THE SHOUTS OF 
ABOUT A DOZEN LEGAMBIENTE (ITALY'S MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL NGO) 
PROTESTORS FROM THE STREET BELOW. 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  02999  02 OF 05  191328Z 
10.  (SBU) IMPORTANT REMARKS WERE MADE BY MINISTRY OF 
ENVIRONMENT U/S TORTOLI, WHO PLACED BIOTECHNOLOGIES IN 
AGRICULTURE IN A SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CONTEXT, SPOKE IN 
FAVOR OF U.S.-ITALY RESEARCH COOPERATION, A EUROPEAN NETWORK 
(AN IDEA PRESENTED A FEW DAYS EARLIER TO EST COUNS BY FORZA 
ITALIA SCIENCE ADVISOR ARATA), AND THE KEY ROLE ITALY COULD 
PLAY IN ITS 2003 EU PRESIDENCY. COMMENT: TORTOLI'S SPEECH WAS 
DRAFTED BY DG CLINI FOR THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT. 
ASSOBIOTECH HAD SEEN AN EARLIER DRAFT OF THE SPEECH, AND 
ADVISED TORTOLI TO BE CAREFUL. HE WAS NOT, WHICH WE ASSUME 
REFLECTS A DECISION BY MIN OF ENVIRONMENT MATTEOLI TO MOVE 
MORE OPENLY IN OPPOSITION TO ALEMANNO'S MORE NATIONALISTIC 
POSITION. END COMMENT. 
 
11.  (U) THE MOST SURPRISING REMARKS OF THE DAY WERE MADE BY 
THE CHAIR OF THE SENATE AGRICULTURAL COMMITTEE, MAURIZIO 
RONCONI.  OPENLY CRITICAL OF ALEMANNO'S POSITIONS, RONCONI 
CALLED FOR A POLICY OF REALISM, FOUNDED ON SCIENCE.  HE 
ARGUED THAT GM FREE AGRICULTURE DID NOT EXIST IN ITALY NOW, 
THAT GMO FREE SEEDS WERE NOT AVAILABLE IN SUFFICIENT 
QUANTITIES, AND THAT A ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY WOULD NOT 
BENEFIT, BUT WOULD DAMAGE SMALL FARMERS WHO WOULD HAVE TO PAY 
A PREMIUM PRICE FOR SEEDS UNDER THE ALEMANNO POLICY. HE NOTED 
THAT NO "GM-FREE" CERTIFICATION SCHEMES WERE IN PLACE, AND 
THAT DESIGNING AND IMPLEMENTING A RELIABLE SCHEME WOULD BE 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ4237 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  02999  03 OF 05  191329Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00  COME-00 
      CTME-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  ITCE-00  DOTE-00  SRPP-00  MEDE-00 
      EB-00    EXME-00  E-00     FAAE-00  UTED-00  VC-00    FRB-00 
      HHS-01   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01   L-00     NASA-01 
      AC-01    NSAE-00  OES-01   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PM-00    ACE-00 
      SP-00    SSO-00   SS-00    STR-00   TEST-00  TRSE-00  USIE-00 
      EPAE-00  PMB-00   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /011W 
                  ------------------BF77F7  191329Z /38 
R 191350Z JUN 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4328 
HQ EPA WASHDC 
USDA WASHDC 
NSC WASHDC 
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE 
AMCONSUL FLORENCE 
AMCONSUL MILAN 
AMCONSUL NAPLES 
 
UNCLAS SECTION 03 OF 05 ROME 002999 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
EUR/ERA FOR HEN-NIL 
EB FOR GADSEN 
EB/TPP/ATT FOR PEREZ 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  02999  03 OF 05  191329Z 
E FOR SHUB 
OES A/S TURNER, PDAS ROCK 
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, CLOUD 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAGR, ETRD, TSPL, TBIO, EAID, IT 
SUBJECT: GOOD AND BAD SCIENCE TAKE CENTER STAGE IN BIOTECH 
DEBATE 
 
COSTLY. HE ADDED THAT LOMBARDIA, AMONG ITALY'S MOST IMPORTANT 
AGRICULTURAL AREAS, WAS SOLIDLY AGAINST A GM-FREE POLICY. 
CONCLUSION? ITALY NEEDS MORE RESEARCH AND FIELD TRIALS, AND 
LABELLING AIMED AT CONSUMERS' RIGHT TO MAKE AN INFORMED 
CHOICE. 
 
12.  (U) THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE WAS NOT PRESENT DURING 
THE FOREGOING PRESENTATIONS.  WHEN HE ARRIVED, THE HECKLERS 
STOPPED HECKLING, AND ALEMANNO HAD THE FULL ATTENTION OF THE 
ROOM. FROM A NEUTRAL STATEMENT ABOUT THE VALUE OF RESEARCH, 
HE BRIDGED TO HIS FAMILIAR CLAIMS OF RISKS, OF THE 
CONTAMINATION OF ITALIAN VARIETIES BY GM VARIETIES, 
MENTIONING IN PASSING THAT THRESHOLDS WERE NOT A SCIENTIFIC, 
BUT A POLITICAL ISSUE, AND THAT ITALY'S PROBLEM IS QUALITY 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  02999  03 OF 05  191329Z 
AND SAFETY, NOT INCREASED PRODUCTION.  ON FIELD TRIALS FOR 
GMOS, ALEMANNO SAID THAT COULD NOT TAKE PLACE UNTIL THE 
VARIETIES WERE PROVED SAFE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT--HE CONCEDED 
THAT HEALTH IS NO LONGER AN ISSUE--AND AN EFFECTIVE 
GM/GM-FREE "FILTER" HAD BEEN DEMONSTRATED.  HE DID NOT OBJECT 
TO BEING COMPARED BY THE AUDIENCE TO FORMER GREEN PARTY AG 
MINISTER PECORARO SCANIO, AND SAID HE WOULD NOT ENCOURAGE 
INVESTORS IN AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY. 
 
13.  (SBU) COMMENT: REACTION TO ALEMANNO FROM THOSE ATTENDING 
WAS CONSIDERED DISMAY.  MOST FOUND A SILVER LINING IN THE 
PRIME MINISTER'S REFUSAL TO CLOSE ITALY TO BIOTECHNOLOGY, 
ANNOUNCED IN BRIEF REMARKS AT THE JUNE 4 TAVOLA 
AGRIALIMENTARE IN THE PRESENCE OF ALEMMANO, BUT MANY 
CONCLUDED NO REAL DECISION WOULD BE TAKEN ON POLICY UNLESS 
ALEMANNO MOVED TO A DIFFERENT POSITION IN THE GOVERNMENT. 
ASSOBIOTECH PRESIDENT SERGIO DOMPE TOLD ESTCOUNS HE BELIEVES 
THAT BERLUSCONI WILL MOVE FORWARD, BUT WILL BE IN NO HURRY. 
THE GAME PLAN SEEMS TO BE CONTAINED REACTION TO ALEMANNO, NOT 
INITIATIVE BY THE PM. END COMMENT. 
 
SCIENCE BOWS TO POLITICS: ALEMANNO AND A TIME FOR CHOICE 
 
14.  (U) ON JUNE 4, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TWO WORKSHOPS 
DESCRIBED ABOVE, ALEMANNO CONDUCTED HIS OWN "SCIENTIFIC 
PROGRAM" AT LA SAPIENZA(UNIVERSITY OF ROME), WHERE HE DEBUTED 
PUBLICLY HIS WHITE PAPER TO AN AUDIENCE OF ABOUT 300. THERE 
WAS VIRTUALLY NO OVERLAP BETWEEN THE AUDIENCES ATTENDING THE 
SCIENTIFIC WORKSHOPS REPORTED ABOVE AND THE AUDIENCE 
ATTENDING THE ALEMANNO PROGRAM.  ALEMANNO'S WARM-UP SPEAKERS 
INCLUDED NO BIOTECHNOLOGISTS, AND RESEARCH SUPPORTING THE 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  02999  03 OF 05  191329Z 
HIGH RISK OF GMOS TO THE ENVIRONMENT INCLUDED THE DISCREDITED 
MONARCH BUTTERFLY FINDINGS ORGINALLY REPORTED IN NATURE. ONE 
SERIOUS SCIENTIST ATTENDING THE PROGRAM TOLD EST COUNS THAT 
THE MOST CITED SCIENTIST ON THE ALEMANNO PANEL WAS A 
MICROBIOLOGIST WITH FOUR CITATIONS, TWO OF THEM IN A NON-PEER 
REVIEWED JOURNAL. 
 
15.  (U) THE PANEL AVOIDED PUBLIC DEBATE BY ALLOWING ONLY 
PRE-SCHEDULED INTERVENTIONS FROM ALEMANNO SUPPORTERS, 
EXCEPTING ONE INTERVENTION BY AN ASSOBIOTECH SPOKESMAN WHO 
WAS QUICKLY DISMISSED FOR HIS INDUSTRY BIAS.  WHEN ALEMANNO 
TOOK THE STAGE FOR WHAT BECAME A HALF-HOUR BARBURNER OF A 
SPEECH, HE PROCLAIMED THAT HE HAD HELED THE DIVIDE BETWEEN 
SCIENTISTS AND ENVIRONMENALISTS/FARMERS/CONSUMERS, AND THAT 
HIS POLICY PROPOSAL, SOON TO BE INFORMED BY THE WORK OF A 
MULTIDISCIPLINARY TASK FORCE, WOULD INTRODUCE INTO THE 
PARLIAMENT A DEBATE TO HELP ITALY MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE ABOUT 
GMOS.  SINCE HE TOOK NO QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE, THERE 
WAS NO CHALLENGE TO HIS CLAIMS. 
 
EMBASSY ANALYSIS: DOES SCIENCE MATTER IN THIS DEBATE? 
 
16.  (SBU) BIOTECH OPONENTS AND PROPONENTS ARE LAYING OUT 
THEIR POSITINS BASED ON SCIENCE.  IT'S JUST NOT THE SAME 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ4239 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  02999  04 OF 05  191329Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00  COME-00 
      CTME-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  ITCE-00  DOTE-00  SRPP-00  MEDE-00 
      EB-00    EXME-00  E-00     FAAE-00  UTED-00  VC-00    FRB-00 
      HHS-01   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01   L-00     NASA-01 
      AC-01    NSAE-00  OES-01   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PM-00    ACE-00 
      SP-00    SSO-00   SS-00    STR-00   TEST-00  TRSE-00  USIE-00 
      EPAE-00  PMB-00   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /011W 
                  ------------------BF7809  191329Z /38 
R 191350Z JUN 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4329 
HQ EPA WASHDC 
USDA WASHDC 
NSC WASHDC 
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE 
AMCONSUL FLORENCE 
AMCONSUL MILAN 
AMCONSUL NAPLES 
 
UNCLAS SECTION 04 OF 05 ROME 002999 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
EUR/ERA FOR HEN-NIL 
EB FOR GADSEN 
EB/TPP/ATT FOR PEREZ 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  02999  04 OF 05  191329Z 
E FOR SHUB 
OES A/S TURNER, PDAS ROCK 
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, CLOUD 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAGR, ETRD, TSPL, TBIO, EAID, IT 
SUBJECT: GOOD AND BAD SCIENCE TAKE CENTER STAGE IN BIOTECH 
DEBATE 
 
SCIENCE.  BIOTECH OPPONENTS USED OUTDATED, OFTEN DISCREDITED 
OR NON-PEER REVIEWED "RESEARCH" TO JUSTIFY THEIR POSITION. 
BIOTECH PROPONENTS, WHO KNOW THE SCIENCE, CAN EXPOSE THE 
SPECIOUS LOGIC UNDERLYING ALEMANNO'S POSITION BY REFERRING TO 
INTERNATIONALLY PEER-REVIEWED FINDINGS, AND STUDIES BY THE 
EUROPEAN COMMISSION AND OTHER BODIES.  BY INTERNATIONALIZING 
THE DEBATE, BIOTECH SUPPORTERS REDUCE THE RISK OF PERSONAL 
RETRIBUTION, AND FORCE ALEMANNO'S NATIONALISTIC VIEW (WE WILL 
PROTECT OUR NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL HERITAGE BY CLOSING OUR 
POLITICAL BORDERS TO ALL BIOTECHNOLOGY) TO BE LOOKED AT IN 
INTERNATIONAL BIOLOGICAL, ECOLOGICAL, AND TRADE TERMS.  THE 
POTENTIAL OF BIOTECHNOLOGY TO ADDRESS THE HEALTH AND 
AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY NEEDS OF THE DEVELOPING WORLD, 
DISMISSED BY ALEMANNO AS MINIMAL, CAN BE DEMONSTRATED BY 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        ROME  02999  04 OF 05  191329Z 
ARNTZEN AND POTRYKUS, BY SCIENTIFIC LEADERS LIKE NORMAN 
BORLAUG AND PER PINSTRUP ANDERSEN WHO HAVE FIRST HAND 
EXPERIENCE IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD, AND BY DEVELOPING WORLD 
SCIENTISTS LIKE ROMANO KIOME FROM KENYA. 
 
17.  (SBU) ALEMANNO SIMPLY HAS NO SCIENTISTS OF DISTINCTION 
WHO SUPPORT HIS POINT OF VIEW.  THE MORE WE TAKE HIM AT HIS 
WORD IN HIS ENDORSEMENT OF RESEARCH AND SPECIFICALLY OF 
RESEARCH WITH THE U.S.--HIS DG AMBROSIO TOLD EST COUNS AND 
AGMINCOUNS OVER LUNCH JUNE 7 THAT THE MINISTER WAS FULLY 
COMMITTED TO COLLABORATION, AND THAT ALL 24 OF THE 
AGMINISTRY'S INSTITUTES WERE AVAILABLE AND FAVORABLY 
DISPOSED-- THE MORE WE RAISE THE BAR ON THE SCIENTIFIC 
STANDARD ITALY WILL USE TO EVALUATE ITS POLICY OPTIONS ON 
BIOTECHNOLOGY.  FURTHER, A STRONG PROGRAM OF VISITING U.S. 
SCIENTISTS, WHO ARE HELD IN HIGH REGARD, CREATES 
OPPORTUNITIES FOR PUBLIC MEETINGS WHICH INCREASE THE AMOUNT 
OF SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION IN CIRCULATION IN THE MEDIA AND 
AMONG CONSUMER AND ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS AS WELL AS THE 
GENERAL PUBLIC. IN THE MEDIUM TERM WE COULD CREATE SOME 
HEALTHY SKEPTICISM ABOUT ALEMANNO'S NOSTALGIC VIEW OF ITALIAN 
AGRICULTURE AND THE THREATENING MANNER WHICH HE PRESENTS 
BIOTECHNOLOGY. 
 
18.  (SBU) THIS DOESN'T MEAN SCIENCE WILL EASILY WIN THE DAY. 
AS HE LOSES GROUND IN THE SCIENCE DEBATE--AND WE WILL REPORT 
SEPTEL ON THE BILATERAL DIMENSIONS OF THE BIOTECH DEBATE 
SPARKED BY THE FAO SUMMIT-- WE FULLY EXPECT A RENEWED RESORT 
TO EMOTIONALISM AND ANTI-GMO DEMONSTRATIONS BY GREEN 
ORGANIZATIONS.  THESE WILL ATTRACT MEDIA ATTENTION, AND 
REINFORCE THE UNCERTAINTY ABOUT THE SAFETY OF BIOTECHNOLOGY 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        ROME  02999  04 OF 05  191329Z 
IN THE MIND OF THE ITALIAN PUBLIC.  WE NOTE, HOWEVER, THAT 
RECENT ANTI-GMO DEMONSTRATIONS HAVE BEEN POORLY ATTENDED -- 
EVEN THE JUNE 6-7 ANTIGLOBAL DEMONSTRATORS NUMBERED ONLY 
10-12,000 INSTEAD OF THE 40,000 PREDICTED.  MEDIA-COVERED 
SCIENCE DEBATES LIKE THOSE REPORTED HERE ARE ONE 
COUNTERMEASURE WE CAN EMPLOY TO FURTHER USG POLICY ENDS. 
 
19.  (SBU) ACTION REQUEST: OES IS ASKED TO RESPOND TO ROME 
1965 TRANSMITTED APRIL 22, 2002.  THIS MESSAGE REQUESTS 
DEPARTMENT'S CONCURRENCE IN DISCUSSING COOPERATION ON 
BIOTECHNOLOGY RESEARCH, THROUGH A FORMAL BILATERAL MEETING AT 
THE EXPERT LEVEL, UNDER THE UMBRELLA S&T AGREEMENT.  THIS 
WILL ALLOW US TO TAKE FIRST MEASURES, AMONG THEM A 
AFFIRMATIVE RESPONSE TO OES/SCP'S SUGGESTION THAT EST COUNS 
AND A GOI REP EXAMINE THE US-EU BIOTECH TASKFORCE AS AN 
ADMINISTRATIVE MODEL, AND ATTEND A SESSION OF THE TASK FORCE 
AS OBSERVERS, AND AS A WAY TO RELATE POSSIBLE BILATERAL 
COOPERATION TO THE BROADER US-EU CONTEXT, CLEARLY SOMETHING 
THE GOI WISHES TO DO. IT WILL ALSO ALLOW US TO DISCUSS WITH 
THE GOI ITS HOPE OF CONVENING A BILATERAL MEETING OF EXPERTS 
SOMETIME BEFORE THE END OF 2002.  EMBASSY BELIEVES THAT A 
SCIENCE-BASED APPROACH TO THE GOI ON BIOTECH, SUPPORTED 
THROUGH A BILATERAL AGREEMENT, CAN GIVE US AN EFFECTIVE WEDGE 
TO CONTINUE TO ISOLATE AND EXPOSE THE INTELLECTUAL INADEQUACY 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ4240 
 
PAGE 01        ROME  02999  05 OF 05  191329Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00  COME-00 
      CTME-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  ITCE-00  DOTE-00  SRPP-00  MEDE-00 
      EB-00    EXME-00  E-00     FAAE-00  UTED-00  VC-00    FRB-00 
      HHS-01   H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01   L-00     NASA-01 
      AC-01    NSAE-00  OES-01   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PM-00    ACE-00 
      SP-00    SSO-00   SS-00    STR-00   TEST-00  TRSE-00  USIE-00 
      EPAE-00  PMB-00   DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /011W 
                  ------------------BF7817  191329Z /38 
R 191350Z JUN 02 
FM AMEMBASSY ROME 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4330 
HQ EPA WASHDC 
USDA WASHDC 
NSC WASHDC 
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE 
AMCONSUL FLORENCE 
AMCONSUL MILAN 
AMCONSUL NAPLES 
 
UNCLAS SECTION 05 OF 05 ROME 002999 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
EUR/ERA FOR HEN-NIL 
EB FOR GADSEN 
EB/TPP/ATT FOR PEREZ 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        ROME  02999  05 OF 05  191329Z 
E FOR SHUB 
OES A/S TURNER, PDAS ROCK 
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, CLOUD 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: EAGR, ETRD, TSPL, TBIO, EAID, IT 
SUBJECT: GOOD AND BAD SCIENCE TAKE CENTER STAGE IN BIOTECH 
DEBATE 
 
OF BIOTECH OPPONENTS, AND IN THE LONG RUN ERODE THE POLITICAL 
SUPPORT ALEMANNO AND HIS FOLLOWERS ENJOY NOT BY MERIT, BUT BY 
THE ABSENCE OF A STRONG AND WIDELY DISTRIBUTED 
COUNTER-MESSAGE. 
 
20.  (U) SCIENCE INTERN LEIGH SYLVAN CONTRIBUTED TO THE 
DRAFTING OF THIS MESSAGE. 
SEMBLER 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
> 
 2002ROME02999 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 


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