GM Free Cymru

US diplomatic pressure on GMOs / Monsanto's little helpers

Thanks to MADGE and other organizations for highlighting this issue. There is clear evidence in these and other documents of the close working relationships between Monsanto personnel, and US Embassy staff and UG Government officials. Monsanto briefs officials on what their "problems" are, and the US diplomatic service swings into action to try and help them out. It's clear that Monsanto representatives have been involved in embassy meetings with other nations at a diplomatic level -- and outside the context of trade missions etc (in which industrial / business interests are routinely involved. Some of these cables are a few years old, and it's unclear whether the Obama administration acts in quite such a blatant fashion in promoting the interests of Monsanto. It's a fair guess that it does.

We also have a couple of messages which demonstrate just how clearly Embassy officials are seeking to pressurize the Vatican on GM. The stream of pro-GM propaganda which we have seen in the last year or so, purporting to show a clear pro-GM position on the part of the Vatican and the Pope, has certainly been managed by the US government's own news-spinning machine, in conjunction with the biotechnology industry. It all hangs together.

From MADGE:

This website

http://cablesearch.org/

provides a keyword search engine for the cables. MADGE has been using keywords such as "GMO/S" "biotech/nology" "agriculture" "genetic/ally" "food" and "crops". Melbourne's newspaper The Age has published a few of the Australian cables here.

MADGE has found reference to the US commercial interest and drive in promoting these crops worldwide. There is no evidence of respect for population wishes in the pursuit of these commercial interests, even in western 'democracies'. The cable authors disparage leaders/policy that, for example, 'allows populist views to prevail on agricultural biotechnology', and there is evidence of trade-based pressure. There is also evidence of countries being asked to lobby on behalf of the US to have GM crops more readily accepted.

GM seems to be a primary strategic interest of the USA. A cable written on key policy issues with France covered: Iraq, Iran, NATO, Afghanistan, Climate Change, Democracy/Burma, Russia Georgia, Kosovo, Missile Defence, Conventional Armed Forces of Europe, Lebanon, Middle East, France/EU, Colombia, GMO Moratorium, and Darfur [#07PARIS4357].

The cables demonstrate direct corporate lobbying at the highest government level as these further examples show:

• In a cable briefing for US President Obama's visit to French President Sarkozy the issue of the French ban on Monsanto's MON810 corn was raised [#08PARIS957]. • A cable briefing for the US Deputy Secretary visit to Spain reads "we are seeking to obtain approval for Monsanto's NK 603 variety, favorable Spanish votes on Commission proposals for biotechnology approvals (the Zapatero government has abstained on four important votes) and a rational co-existence decree." [#05MADRID1141] It seems likely that our Government has been similarly pressured, and MADGE put out an early media release "MADGE appreciates Cables". We await cables that document evidence.

Interests in Africa by the US are also clear, with the US asking for data to be collected on the "Government acceptance of genetically modified food and propagation of genetically modified crops." [#09STATE37561] However undeveloped IPR legislation (Intellectual Property Rights) seems to be somewhat of a protection from GM crops in developing countries. Monsanto et al cannot enforce patent rights without this legislation in place.

-------------------------

CABLE EXTRACTS:

#08PARIS957

His (ie Sarkozy's) minister of agriculture has used the recent spike in global food prices to call for the strengthening -- not liberalization -- of administrative oversight of food markets through the EU,s Common Agricultural Policy. He speaks enthusiastically about defending EU &community preferences8 and mentions the Doha round only in terms of defending agricultural interests (despite the considerable potential gains for the service-oriented French economy). And he allows populist views to prevail on agricultural biotechnology by maintaining a WTO-inconsistent ban on MON810 corn.

#07PARIS4357

¶33. (SBU) GMO Moratorium: When Sarkozy came into office not only did he create a ‘mega’ environment ministry, but he also directed it to undertake a process, the ‘Grenelle’, involving all sectors of the economy to reshape French environmental policies. Among the topics considered in the Grenelle was what to do aboutGENETICALLY MODIFIED Organisms, a subject of considerable domestic concern in France. The result is that France is currently considering a moratorium on biotech planting that would significantly undermine U.S. agricultural exports to Europe. We believe President Sarkozy may support the politically popular moratorium in order to gain capital to use in his reform efforts.

 

05MADRID1141 We are also working on agricultural biotechnology issues in Spain. The previous government was largely positive with respect to the technology. The current government,s environment minister is opposed. In particular, we are seeking to obtain approval for Monsanto"s NK 603 variety, favorable Spanish votes on Commission proposals for biotechnology approvals (the Zapatero government has abstained on four important votes) and a rational co-existence decree.

#09STATE375614) Food Security and Agriculture (FOOD)

-- Government policies, plans, intentions, and actionsregarding food security and food safety, and willingness to cooperate with UN and other donor agencies. -- Nutritional status of population, including refugees.-- Indications that rising food prices are adverselyaffecting nutritional status and/ or contributing to instability; use of subsidies or export/import bans. -- Yields and prospects for cash and subsistence crops;changes in agricultural practices, such as cropping patterns and crop selection; use/availability of seeds and fertilizers. -- Government acceptance of genetically modified food andpropagation of genetically modified crops. -- Status of structural adjustments and infrastructureimprovements to increase agricultural producer income and reduce migration to urban areas. -- Information on surface and groundwater resources, toinclude sources, treatment, distribution and storage. -- Indications that deforestation, desertification, erosionand degradation of soils are affecting agricultural output. -- Food contamination affecting population health.-- Indications of invasive species, especially thoseaffecting food security or development. -- Indications of water table degradation, decreases in lakelevels below historic norms, or evidence of territorial disputes associated with declining water resources or quality