Wikileaks: US engineers ways to force feed Europeans with GE crops
2. Wikileaks: US engineers ways to force feed Europeans with GE crops
1. WikiLeaks: US Should Retaliate Against EU for Genetically Modifed Resistance
Blog entry by Jeffrey Smith
Posted December 20, 2010
"Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU"--Recommendation by US Ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton
WikiLeaked cables released over the weekend revealed more about the US' role as a global bully, trying to thrust unpopular genetically modified (GM) crops onto cautious governments and their citizens. In a 2007 cable from Craig Stapleton, then US Ambassador to France, he encouraged the US government to "reinforce our negotiating position with the EU on agricultural biotechnology by publishing a retaliation list." A list, he added, that "causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility."
The stated reason for their attack was that "Europe is moving backwards not forwards" on GMOs, with "France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the [EU] Commission." The Ambassador was concerned that France and others would put a ban on the cultivation of Monsanto's GM corn seeds called Mon 810, engineered with a gene that produces a toxic insect-killing pesticide in every cell. Mon 810 is the first GM crop approved for planting EU-wide and has been a test case for biotech expansionism into the continent.
According to the cable, the Ambassador also rejected the France's new "Grenelle" environment process, which looks beyond just the science of new technologies to also take into account "common interest." Evidently a government that looks out for common interest is just too much for Ambassador Stapleton. He wrote, "Combined with the precautionary principle, this is a precedent with implications far beyond MON-810 BT corn cultivation."
He was also upset about France's draft biotech law that "would make farmers and seed companies legally liable for pollen drift." This concept that the "polluter pays" is a foundational principle of US law -- except for GMOs. Here Stapleton also wants France to give a free pass for Monsanto and the other GM seed companies.
The French government and EU Commission tried to placate the US suggesting that the rejections of Mon 810 "are only cultivation rather than import bans." But Stapleton says, "We see the cultivation ban as a first step, at least by anti-GMO advocates, who will move next to ban or further restrict imports."
The ambassador fails to point out that a de facto ban of GM ingredients in food has been in place since 1999, not by the government, but by the food industry. They have kept GMOs out of their products due to widespread consumer concern about the health effects. Since foods containing GMOs must be labeled in Europe, companies always source non-GMO food to avoid that label.
The exception is animal feed. EU law does not require meat or other animal products to label whether GMOs were fed to the animals. This loophole has allowed lots of US- and Brazil-grown GMO animal feed to be shipped to Europe. According to the cable, "The [French] environment minister's top aide told us that people have a right not to buy meat raised on biotech feed." Offering consumers a choice on GMOs is not on the US government agenda.
Ambassador Stapleton had been a co-owner with George W. Bush of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Once Bush was in office, Stapleton became US Ambassador to the Czech Republic, and then in France. His pro-GMO stance was in-line with the Bush administration, which used a WTO lawsuit to try to force Europe to accept GMOs.
Stapleton's tone in the letter was insistent. "We should not be prepared to cede on cultivation because of our considerable planting seed business in Europe."
He said, "Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices. In fact, the pro-biotech side in France -- including within the farm union -- have told us retaliation is the only way to begin to begin to turn this issue in France."
* France banned Mon 810 in early 2008. Several other EU nations have also banned it.
* In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine stated that animal feeding studies on GMOs showed significant health disorders. They called on the US government to institute an immediate moratorium, and asked all doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets in the meantime.
* This year, the major French retailer Carefour introduced a new "Reared without GMOs" label for meat raised on non-GMO feed.
* The Non-GMO Shopping Guide released in the US lists thousands of products that do not use GM ingredients, either directly or via animal feed.
2. Wikileaks: US engineers ways to force feed Europeans with GE crops
Blog post by Myrto Pispini
December 21, 2010
Documents exposed recently by Wikileaks reveal that the US has been putting pressure on European countries to accept genetically engineered (GE) crops. Although US government support for biotech companies in this way is nothing new - the cables released by Wikileaks reveal some interesting details on Spain's role as a key US ally for pushing GE crops.
A story broke in EL Pais on Sunday December 19th, revealing that the Spain has been working hand in hand with the US to protect the interests of the biotech industry against those EU countries that hold national bans on GE crops. Spain, cultivates the most GE maize (Monsanto MON810) in Europe and is obviously very worried by the rise of the anti-GE movement in Spanish society. The French are also mostly against GE crops and Germany has been introducing GE crop bans - allying with countries such as Austria, Luxembourg and Italy. Spain doesn't want to be outnumbered in Europe on this issue and has been looking for support elsewhere.
The Spanish Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Water, Joseph Puxeu, has even been asking the US government to work closely with Spain in applying pressure on the EU Commission for the encouragement of GE crops cultivation.
The documents explain why the Spanish government has been tolerating GE crops for years while failing to implement strict rules on the labelling and traceability of GE food. And they have not been transparent on the location of GE fields despite a number of contamination incidents and socio-economic impacts on farmers and the society.
The story in Spain is a scandal that has shocked environmental, consumers and farmers organisations. They are calling on the Minister of Environment, Rose Aguilar, to take immediate measures, and hold those accountable who have been working against Spanish society, the environment and public health. They are asking her to stop listening to the big biotech companies and ban Monsanto's GE maize.
On the cable 07PARIS4723 dated 14 December 2007, Craig Stapleton, US Ambassador in Paris, addressed the issue of GE crops and the World Trade Organisation in Europe. He stated that the EU is moving backwards on this issue and that France is playing a major role in this movement. He concludes by saying the only way to deal with France is to take retaliation measures. 'Retaliation' like this could be something like a boycott of French products or start anti-marketing campaigns.
In another cable 09MADRID482, sent from the US Embassy in Madrid, from May 2009 this time, we learn that Monsanto representatives are confident that the adoption of a safeguard clause in France, banning Monsanto's maize, is the result of bargaining between environmentalists and Nicolas Sarkozy. They claim that Sarkozy gave in to introducing the ban by asking environmental organisations, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, to stop campaigning against his nuclear policy. It is almost impossible to imagine such a deal! The pro-GE lobby, so blinded by their ideology, are apparently unable to believe that the leaders of a country like France have introduced a ban based on serious scientific uncertainties around GE crops, as well as the opposition by the majority French citizens. And Greenpeace would never agree to such a deal. Our anti-nuclear campaign in France continues.
It is evident that the US and the biotech companies follow the EU debate on GE crops very closely. They seem to think that the rest of the EU will follow if Spain bans Monsanto's GE maize (MON810). The controversial maize is under reassessment and the EU Commission will put forward a proposal for its reauthorisation, which EU Members States will need to vote on.
Will the EU Commission and the EU Member States take in to account the increasing scientific evidence highlighting the environmental impacts of GE crops? Will they consider the possible impacts on our health? Will they take into account the unanimous demand from EU Environment Ministers for strengthening of the European authorisation system for GE crops?
Will they listen to the majority of the EU public who oppose GE crops and most recently the one million EU citizens who demanded a moratorium on them in the EU?
Or will they give in to the pressure of the pro-GE lobby and the US?