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Cablegate: French Farmers and Researchers Demonstrate in Favor Of

Published: Tue 3 Oct 2006 02:52 PM
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Lucia A Keegan 10/11/2006 09:50:27 AM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan
Cable
Text:
UNCLAS SENSITIVE PARIS 06576
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ACTION: AGR
INFO: UNESCO DCM AMB ECON TRDO SCI POL ECNO
DISSEMINATION: AGRX
CHARGE: PROG
APPROVED: AGR: MMEADOR
DRAFTED: AGR: MCHENARD
CLEARED: ECON: JHENNESSEY-NILAND SCI:RDRY
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RR RUEHC RUEHRC RUCNMEM RUEHMRE RUEHSR RUEHGV
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FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1892
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES
RUEHMRE/AMCONSUL MARSEILLE 1349
RUEHSR/AMCONSUL STRASBOURG 0193
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 006576
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
BRUSSELS PASS USEU FOR AGMINCOUNSELOR
STATE FOR OES; EUR/ERA AND EB (SPIRNAK);
STATE PASS USTR FOR MURPHY;
USDA/OS/JOHANNS/TERPSTRA;
USDA/FAS FOR OA/YOST/SIMMONS/JONES;
ITP/SHEIKH/MACKE/TOM POMEROY/MIKE WOOLSEY/GREG YOUNG; BOB
RIEMENSCHNEIDER
FAA/SEBRANEK/DEVER;
EU POSTS PASS TO AGRICULTURE AND ECON
GENEVA FOR USTR, ALSO AGRICULTURE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ETRD EU FR
SUBJECT: FRENCH FARMERS AND RESEARCHERS DEMONSTRATE IN FAVOR OF
BIOTECH; OTHER BIOTECH MATTERS
REF: (A) Paris 6159; (B) Paris 5262; (C) Paris 2439
Not for Internet Distribution - Contains Proprietary Information
1.(U) Summary: The streets of Pau, a large city close to the
Spanish border and the heart of French corn production, were filled
on September 20 with nearly 2,000 French farmers and researchers
demonstrating in support of agricultural biotechnology. There were
no counter demonstrations. Disappointingly, French media provided
scant coverage of the event. End Summary.
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DEMONSTRATION
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2. (U) Demonstrators from FNSEA (the largest French farmers union)
JeuneS AgriculteurS (Young Farmers' Union), ORAMA (Union of French
field crop growers), and Collectif Prservons la Recherche
(employees from planting seed companies), among others joined
together in Pau September 20th sporting T-shirts with "Ras-le-Bol!"
("Enough!") to express their shared frustration with the political,
judicial and cultural anti-biotech climate in France. (refs a and
B).
3. (U) Protesters, assembled in front of the local government
office, denounced the political weakness of the French government's
failure to adopt biotech coexistence measures (ref C) and systematic
use of the precautionary principle. Protesters further condemned
the feeble penalties imposed by French judicial authorities on those
found guilty of destroying biotech property. Protesters also fought
back against other recent problems including environmentalists
complaints that intensive irrigation necessary for corn production
is environmentally wasteful, and against the French government's
recent suspension of authorized pest treatments for corn seeds.
4. (U) Protesters emphasized that modern agriculture and farm
economy development is based on innovation. They made it clear that
their mission is to produce and live from their production, while
their opponents destructive acts are based on ideology and not
reality.
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WORKING COEXISTENCE MODEL
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5. (U) At the end of the march, participants headed to an exhibition
called "Mais au Futur" (in French, "Corn in the Future"), which is a
working field demonstration of GM and non-GM crop coexistence. For
example, Arvalis, the French public technical institute for crops,
offered an actual small-scale cornfield, incorporating their
recommended coexistence production plantings of buffer zones and
refuge zones around GM fields.
The two largest U.S. planting seed companies in France, Pioneer and
Monsanto, had stands at the exhibition, offering technical
information to ensure the coexistence of conventional with GM
varieties authorized in France for production.
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PIONEER
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6. (SBU) Pioneer works closely with its French corn seed customers,
providing input on production practices (including coexistence
production measures), harvest and trade of its French customers.
Pioneer does not make public the identity or location of the farmers
purchasing and growing Pioneer GM corn seeds. To date, Pioneer
believes this strategy has helped them avoid any crop destructions
of their customer's fields. However, French authorities informed
Pioneer that traders who purchase the harvested GM corn will find
their facilities under threat (silos, fields) by anti-biotech
activists, namely Greenpeace.
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MONSANTO
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7. (SBU) All GM corn grown in France contains the MON-810 gene event
created by Monsanto, and several EU approved corn varieties contain
this event. Various seed companies can commercialize these
varieties, and according to Monsanto, the number of planting seed
companies selling GM corn varieties will expand significantly in
2007. Monsanto hopes to at least double GM corn acreage in France
in 2007 to 10,000 hectares (ha) from this year's 4,000 to 5,000 ha.
Monsanto's strategy is to increase the GM corn acreage in France
before there is any legal coexistence legislation, and they believe
there will be none before 2008 due to the inertia created by the
elections of 2007.
8. (SBU) French corn exports to Spain (including GM and non-GM)
cover 50,000 ha. All GM corn grown in France is exported to Spain.
Consequently, Monsanto believes growing GM corn in France up to
50,000 ha will be achievable.
9. (SBU) More difficult, by far, will be opening the French
processing market to GM corn. As an interim step, Monsanto has
approached French animal-feed compounders on incorporating GM corn
into their products. According to Monsanto, feed makers familiar
with using imported GM soybean products are more open to
incorporating GM corn products grown in France.
------------------------------------
BIOGEMMA STOPS OPEN-FIELD TEST PLOTS
-------------------------------------
10. (U) French research company, Biogemma, subsidiary of the French
planting seed cooperative Limagrain, confirmed its recent decision
that, following several years of test crop destruction, it will stop
conducting open-field biotech research in France. Note: The
withdrawal of Biogemma, the only French commercial group conducting
open-field test plots in France, leaves only public French research
institutes and non-French private companies still conducting biotech
research here. End note.
11. (U) Comment: Despite the actions of anti-biotech activists,
including crop destructions and negative media campaigns, French
farmers, with the help of their syndicate organizations, technical
research institutes, and planting seed companies, are showing their
determination to further use biotechnology as a modern tool to
increase productivity. In a country where the use of biotechnology
in human food sources remains very controversial, it was noteworthy
to witness a large number of people gathering peacefully to defend
this technology, and exchange technical information without
ideological discussion or negative repercussions.
12. (U) The French national popular press did not report on the
event (despite Reuters and the French Press Agency AFP reports),
even though the national media consistently reports on GM field
destructions and lawsuits involving activists and seed companies.
The negative image of farm biotechnology has been fed by the media
coverage, and consumers' perceptions will be difficult to change so
long as the lack of balance in the media fails to provide exposure
to the benefits of biotechnology. We will continue to promote the
benefits of biotechnology through all channels in the Embassy. End
comment.
Stapleton
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