US embassy cable - 02VATICAN5625

AMBASSADOR NICHOLSON'S MEETING ON BIOTECH WITH HOLY SEE PM EQUIVALENT LEONARDO SANDRI UNCLASSIFIED

Identifier: 02VATICAN5625
Wikileaks: View 02VATICAN5625 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Vatican
Created: 2002-11-19 14:51:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PREL ECON EAID EAGR SENV SOCI ZA RP ECON EAID EAGR SENV SOCI ZA RP VT VTPREL 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 005625 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/WE (MENUTTI); EB/TPP (CEKUTA); AF/S 
ROME PASS FODAG 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL, ECON, EAID, EAGR, SENV, SOCI, ZA, RP, ECON, EAID, EAGR, SENV, SOCI, ZA, RP, VT, VTPREL, Biotechnology 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR NICHOLSON'S MEETING ON BIOTECH WITH 
HOLY SEE PM EQUIVALENT LEONARDO SANDRI 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  05625  01 OF 02  191610Z 
 
1. (U) SUMMARY:  AMBASSADOR CALLED ON HOLY SEE DEPUTY 
PRIME MINISTER EQUIVALENT LEONARDO SANDRI NOVEMBER 16 TO 
EXPRESS U.S. CONCERN OVER THE LACK OF HOLY SEE 
INVOLVEMENT REGARDING THE GROWING THREAT OF HUNGER AND 
STARVATION IN SOUTHERN AFRICA AND, SPECIFICALLY, THE 
ZAMBIAN GOVERNMENT'S REJECTION OF U.S. FOOD ASSISTANCE 
BECAUSE OF ITS BIO-TECH CONTENT.   AFTER HEARING THE 
DETAILS OF THE SITUATION IN SOUTHERN AFRICA, AND IN 
RESPONSE TO THE AMBASSADORS' FORCEFUL PLEA FOR THE HOLY 
SEE TO STEP FORWARD IN RESPONSE TO THIS CLEAR MORAL 
ISSUE, SANDRI SAID HE WOULD DISCUSS THE ISSUE WITH PRIME 
MINISTER EQUIVALENT SODANO AND FOREIGN MINISTER TAURAN 
AND GET BACK TO THE AMBASSADOR THIS WEEK WITH A RESPONSE. 
TO INCREASE THE PRESSURE ON THE HOLY SEE, THE AMBASSADOR 
ALSO PUBLISHED AN OP-ED IN ITALY'S LARGEST CATHOLIC DAILY 
NEWSPAPER, AVVENIRE, OUTLINING THE MORAL DIMENSIONS OF 
THE ISSUE AND URGING THE WORLD COMMUNITY TO FEED THE 
HUNGRY FOOD RATHER THAN FEAR. 
2.  (U) IN A NOVEMBER 16 MEETING WITH DEPUTY PRIME 
MINISTER EQUIVALENT ARCHBISHOP LEONARDO SANDRI, 
AMBASSADOR OUTLINED U.S. CONCERNS OVER THE MOUNTING FOOD 
CRISIS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA AND THE BAFFLING DECISION OF 
THE ZAMBIAN GOVERNMENT TO REJECT U.S. FOOD ASSISTANCE OUT 
UNJUSTIFIED FEARS OF BIOTECH FOODS.  THE AMBASSADOR 
POINTED OUT THAT, IN THE FACE OF THE GRAVE HUMANITARIAN 
SITUATION IT CURRENTLY FACES, THE GOVERNMENT OF ZAMBIA 
HAD ASKED THAT THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM REMOVE U.S. MAIZE 
FROM THE COUNTRY EVEN THOUGH MILLING THE GRAIN WOULD 
COMPLETELY ADDRESS THE CONCERNS THEY HAVE PUBLICLY CITED 
FOR NOT ACCEPTING THE GRAIN.  THE AMBASSADOR POINTED OUT 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        VATICA  05625  01 OF 02  191610Z 
THE UNCONSTRUCTIVE, POTENTIALLY LIFE-THREATENING ROLE 
PLAYED BY THE JESUIT CENTER FOR THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION IN 
ZAMBIA, WHICH HAD ENCOURAGED THE GOVERNMENT TO REJECT 
BIOTECH FOODS, AND ALSO NOTED THAT ZAMBIA'S CATHOLIC 
BISHOPS IN ZAMBIA HAVE BEEN LARGELY SILENT IN THE FACE OF 
THIS CRISIS.  WITH LIVES AT RISK, THE AMBASSADOR 
EMPHASIZED, THE U.S. BELIEVED THE HOLY SHOULD FOLLOW THE 
UN, THE WHO, AND THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION IN ISSUING 
PUBLIC STATEMENTS THAT ACKNOWLEDGE THE SAFETY FOR HUMAN 
CONSUMPTION OF THE U.S. MAIZE AND THE IMPORTANCE OF 
FEEDING THE HUNGRY, ADDING THAT THE HOLY SEE'S STRONG 
MORAL VOICE ON THIS ISSUE COULD POTENTIALLY HELP SAVE 
THOUSANDS OF LIVES. 
3. (U) IN RESPONSE, SANDRI ASKED IF THE U.S. WAS 
PROVIDING THE FOOD FREE OR SELLING THE FOOD.  THE 
AMBASSADOR SAID IT WAS PROVIDED TO THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM 
FREE OF CHARGE, ADDING THAT WE PROVIDE NEARLY 70 PERCENT 
OF THE FOOD TO THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM FOR SOUTHERN 
AFRICA. WITH THE HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN SOUTHERN 
AFRICA WORSENING AND DEMANDS ON DONORS INCREASING, 
DECISIONS TO WITHHOLD U.S.-SUPPLIED FOOD RELIEF WOULD 
HAVE A POTENTIALLY DEVASTATING EFFECT, THE AMBASSADOR 
NOTED. 
 
4. (SBU) COMPARING THE HOLY SEE'S AND SOUTHERN AFRICAN 
BISHOPS SILENCE WITH THE CLEAR STATEMENTS OF OTHER 
ORGANIZATIONS AND COUNTRIES, THE AMBASSADOR POINTED OUT 
THAT "EVEN GREENPEACE HAD CAVED IN AND SAID, IN LIGHT OF 
THE CIRCUMSTANCES WITH PEOPLE STARVING THEY COULD NO 
LONGER SUSTAIN THEIR POSITION AGAINST FEEDING PEOPLE 
BIOTECH FOODS."  WITH EVEN GREENPEACE SHOWING THEIR 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        VATICA  05625  01 OF 02  191610Z 
COMPASSION IN THIS SITUATION, THE AMBASSADOR ASKED, 
"WHERE IS THE CHURCH"? 
 
5. (SBU) SANDRI RESPONDED BY ASSERTING THAT THE EUROPEAN 
UNION WAS AGAINST BIOTECH FOODS AND THAT WAS 
PROBLEMATICAL FOR THE HOLY SEE.  THE AMBASSADOR CLARIFIED 
THAT THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION HAD APPROVED FOR 
COMMERCIALIZATION A NUMBER OF GM PRODUCTS, AND NOTED THAT 
OBJECTIONS RELATED MORE TO HOW TO STRUCTURE 
COMMERCIALIZATION RATHER THAN CONCERN OVER THE SAFETY OF 
BIOTECH FOODS.  HE ALSO POINTED OUT THAT THE HOLY SEE'S 
SCIENTIFIC ADVISORS, THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCE, 
HAVE TOLD US THEY FOUND NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS FOOD, AND 
HAVE ISSUED REPORTS TO THAT EFFECT. IN CLOSING, THE 
AMBASSADOR SAID HE COULD NOT BELIEVE THAT THE POPE, WITH 
HIS EMPHASIS ON THE VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE AND HIS 
OPPOSITION TO EUTHANASIA AND ABORTION, KNOWS OF THIS 
SERIOUS SITUATION AND IS NOT EQUALLY OPPOSED TO 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ2124 
 
PAGE 01        VATICA  05625  02 OF 02  191610Z 
ACTION EUR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   NP-00    AF-00    AGRE-00  AID-00   CEA-01   CIAE-00 
      COME-00  CTME-00  DINT-00  DODE-00  DOEE-00  ITCE-00  DOTE-00 
      SRPP-00  DS-00    EAP-00   EB-00    ED-01    EXME-00  E-00 
      FAAE-00  FBIE-00  UTED-00  FDRE-01  VC-00    FRB-00   HHS-01 
      H-01     TEDE-00  INR-00   IO-00    ITC-01   LAB-01   L-00 
      VCE-00   AC-01    NSAE-00  NSCE-00  NSF-01   OES-00   OIC-02 
      OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    PER-00   PM-00    PRS-00   ACE-00 
      P-00     SCT-00   SP-00    SSO-00   STR-00   TEST-00  TRSE-00 
      USIE-00  EPAE-00  PMB-00   DSCC-00  PRM-00   DRL-02   G-00 
      NFAT-00  SAS-00     /015W 
                  ------------------0B3185  191610Z /38 
O 191451Z NOV 02 
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 
INFO AMEMBASSY ROME 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
USEU BRUSSELS 
AMEMBASSY LUSAKA 
AMEMBASSY HARARE 
AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 
AMEMBASSY MAPUTO 
AMEMBASSY LUANDA 
AMEMBASSY LILONGWE 
AMEMBASSY MANILA 
 
UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 VATICAN 005625 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/WE (MENUTTI); EB/TPP (CEKUTA); AF/S 
ROME PASS FODAG 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL, ECON, EAID, EAGR, SENV, SOCI, ZA, RP, VT 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR NICHOLSON'S MEETING ON BIOTECH WITH 
HOLY SEE PM EQUIVALENT LEONARDO SANDRI 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  05625  02 OF 02  191610Z 
 
STARVATION. 
6. (U) AT THIS POINT, SANDRI AGREED TO CONFER WITH PRIME 
MINISTER EQUIVALENT SODANO AND FM TAURAN, AND 
SUBSEQUENTLY WITH THE PAPAL NUNCIO IN ZAMBIA THIS WEEK. 
HE PLEDGED TO GET BACK TO THE AMBASSADOR AFTER THESE 
CONSULTATIONS. 
7. (SBU) THE AMBASSADOR DEFINITELY GOT SANDRI'S 
ATTENTION.  HE VISIBLY WINCED WHEN HE POINTED OUT THE 
CONTRAST BETWEEN GREENPEACE AND THE HOLY SEE. 
NICHOLSON 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
> 
 

 2002VATICA05625 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 


Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04