US embassy cable - 02VATICAN6141

AMBASSADOR PRESSES VATICAN DIPLOMATIC COLLEAGUES FOR SUPPORT ON AFRICAN FAMINE AND BIOTECH FEARS

Identifier: 02VATICAN6141
Wikileaks: View 02VATICAN6141 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Vatican
Created: 2002-12-27 13:51:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: SENV ETRD TBIO EAGR EAID VT 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 VATICAN 006141 
 
SIPDIS 
 
2ND C O R R E C T E D COPY (ADDED ADDRESSEE(S), PARAS RENUMBERED) 
 
STATE FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER 
EUR/ERA FOR HEN-NIL 
EB FOR CEKUTA AND SCHONANDER 
OES 
STATE PASS USDA FOR APHIS:SMCCAMMON, USDA/FAS:BLUM 
USDA/FAS/ITT:EJONES, USDA/FAS/OA:SLUTSKY 
USDA/OS/HEGWOOD 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  06141  010934Z 
STATE PASS FDA FOR EFLAMM 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SENV, ETRD, TBIO, EAGR, EAID, VT, Biotechnology 
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR PRESSES VATICAN DIPLOMATIC COLLEAGUES 
FOR SUPPORT ON AFRICAN FAMINE AND BIOTECH FEARS 
 
1.  SUMMARY:  AMBASSADOR HOSTED A MEETING ON THE AFRICA 
FAMINE AND U.S. BIOTECH RELIEF FOOD DECEMBER 18 FOR THIRTY 
HOLY SEE DIPLOMATIC COLLEAGUES FROM EUROPE, AFRICA, ASIA, 
AND LATIN AMERICA.  WORLD FOOD PROGRAM DEPUTY EXECUTIVE 
DIRECTOR JEAN JACQUES GRAISSE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO FODAG 
TONY HALL, AND ITALIAN GENETICIST FROM THE ITALIAN NATIONAL 
RESEARCH CENTER IN NAPLES DR. ROBERTO DEFEZ BRIEFED THE 
HOLY SEE AMBASSADORS ON THE STATE OF THE AFRICAN FAMINE AND 
URGED THEM TO WORK BOTH WITH THEIR CAPITALS AND WITH THE 
HOLY SEE TO DEVELOP MORE HUMANITARIAN RELIEF.  ALL 
PRESENTERS, INCLUDING AMBASSADOR NICHOLSON, OFFERED CLEAR 
AND COMPELLING COMMENTARY ON THE NEED TO DO MORE TO RESPOND 
TO THIS CRISIS AND EMPHASIZED THE SAFETY OF US FOOD.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
2.  WFP DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JEAN JACQUES GRAISSE LAID 
OUT THE FOOD NEEDS FOR AFRICA OVER THE COMING MONTHS, 
FOCUSING ON THE FOLLY OF REFUSING TO ACCEPT "COMPLETELY 
SAFE" U.S. FOOD.  HE TERMED THIS "THE MOST ABSURD 
SITUATION" HE HAD SEEN IN A CAREER OF RELIEF WORK. 
AMBASSADOR HALL REVIEWED HIS RECENT MISSION TO AFRICA AND 
URGED THE AMBASSADORS TO GET THEIR GOVERNMENTS TO STEP UP 
THEIR ASSISTANCE LEVELS, BOTH OF COMMODITIES AND OF CASH. 
HE UNDERSCORED THE MORAL ISSUES AT HAND, AND NOTED THAT HOW 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        VATICA  06141  010934Z 
POLITICAL LEADERS RESPOND -- BOTH IN FAMINE-STRUCK 
COUNTRIES AND DONOR COUNTRIES, WILL BE HELD IN JUDGMENT BY 
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.  DR. DEFEZ' PRESENTATION 
UNDERSCORED BOTH THE RELATIVE AND ABSOLUTE SAFETY OF 
BIOTECH FOODS WHEN COMPARED TO CONVENTIONAL AND ORGANIC 
FOODS.  DEFEZ ALSO EXPLAINED THE ENVIRONMENTAL 
INNOCUOUSNESS OF BIOTECH CROPS, WHICH HE DESCRIBED AS "WEAK 
COMPETITORS IN A NATURAL ENVIRONMENT." 
 
3.  THE HOLY SEE AMBASSADORS' COMMENTS WERE GENERALLY 
POSITIVE, WITH THE GERMAN AMBASSADOR NOTING THAT THE 
AFRICAN FAMINE HAS SEIZED THE ATTENTION OF THE EU, WHICH 
WILL DEVOTE OVER 100 MILLION EURO TO IT IN COMING MONTHS. 
THE GREEK AMBASSADOR QUESTIONED WHETHER AFRICAN OPPOSITION 
TO US FOOD WAS "POLITICAL" (WE TOLD HIM IT WAS ROOTED IN 
FEAR OF EU REACTIONS, NOT FEAR THAT THE FOOD WAS AMERICAN). 
CANADIAN AMBASSADOR LICARI, AN OLD AFRICA HAND, EXPRESSED 
HIS COUNTRY'S FRUSTRATION WITH THE ZAMBIAN GOVERNMENT'S 
DECISION TO REFUSE US FOOD ASSISTANCE, BUT TOLD THE 
ASSEMBLED GUESTS THAT MORE AFRICAN VOICES NEEDED TO BE 
HEARD.  HE SAID THE US NEEDED TO ENGAGE IN A MORE EFFECTIVE 
"INFORMATION CAMPAIGN" TO EDUCATE AFRICAN LEADERS ABOUT US 
FOOD.  THE DUTCH AMBASSADOR'S WIFE LATER REPORTED TO MRS. 
NICHOLSON THAT HER HUSBAND THOUGHT THE MEETING WAS THE MOST 
MEANINGFUL TWO HOURS HE HAD SPENT IN HIS ENTIRE DIPLOMATIC 
CAREER. 
 
4.  COMMENT:  IN BRINGING TOGETHER THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS, WE 
HAVE SOUGHT TO STIMULATE OUR DIPLOMATIC COLLEAGUES TO 
GREATER AWARENESS AND ACTIVITY VIS-A-VIS THE AFRICA FAMINE 
AND STEP UP INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE ON THE HOLY SEE TO 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        VATICA  06141  010934Z 
ABANDON THE CAUTION THAT HAS CHARACTERIZED ITS POSITION ON 
THE SAFETY OF US FOOD ASSISTANCE TO DATE.  MOST OF THE 
AMBASSADORS/CHARGES TOOK DETAILED NOTES, AND MANY INDICATED 
THEY WOULD REPORT U.S. CONCERNS BACK TO CAPITALS.  WE HAVE 
PRESSED AND WILL CONTINUE TO PRESS THE DEAN OF THE VATICAN 
DIPLOMATIC CORPS (FROM SAN MARINO) TO MAKE THIS ISSUE A 
THEME OF HIS ANNUAL GREETING TO THE POPE ON JANUARY 13. 
THE POPE'S RESPONSE, WHICH IS PICKED UP BY MEDIA ALL OVER 
THE WORLD, COULD VERY WELL PROVIDE AMMUNITION TO USE WITH 
BISHOPS CONFERENCES AND OTHER ELEMENTS OF THE CHURCH THAT 
HAVE BEEN UNHELPFUL ON THE BIOTECH MESSAGE IN RECENT 
MONTHS. 
NICHOLSON 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
> 
 

 2002VATICA06141 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED 


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