by Marion Nestle
Jan 6 2011

Wikileaks plays food politics: US vs. EU agbiotech policies

I’m still catching up on what happened during the weeks I was out of Internet contact, so I’ve only just heard about the Wikileaked diplomatic cable about U.S. food biotechnology policies.

In December 2007, the U.S. Ambassador to France, Craig Robert Stapleton, wrote the White House to demand retaliation against European Union countries that refused to allow import of genetically modified (GM) corn from the United States.

Ambassador Stapleton’s confidential memo of December 14, 2007  explained that the French government was attempting to

circumvent science-based decisions in favor of an assessment of the “common interest”…. 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’s new “High Authority” on agricultural biotech is designed to roll back established science-based decision making….The draft biotech law submitted to the National Assembly and
the Senate for urgent consideration…would make farmers and seed companies legally liable for pollen drift and sets the stage for inordinately large cropping distances. The publication of a registry identifying cultivation of GMOs at the parcel level may be the most significant measure given the propensity for activists to destroy GMO crops in the field.

The Ambassador’s recommendation?

Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU….

Retaliation?  Against friends?  Even the Bush administration knew better.  The Obama administration also has not taken this advice.

The product at issue was a variety of Monsanto’s GM corn.   Could Monsanto have had anything to do with the Ambassador’s pointed interest in this matter?  Wikileaks: any chance for more documents on this matter?

  • Great, now I am sick to my stomach and depressed at my lack of ability to make my own free market decisions.

    This is not even capitalism at work. If we allowed the market to decide the fate of GMO foods, consumers would vote them down by not buying them. That is the power of capitalism and that is what Monsanto is sooo afraid of.

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  • Anthro

    The more I delve into the whole GM topic, the more confused I get!
    This topic (GM) is hopelessly politicized, which makes clarity even harder to obtain.

    I usually trust the science, and I still do, but in this case, I am having trouble finding science that isn’t tainted by politics. I went to hear a plant geneticist speak, and while I had no difficulty with the science, I did have difficulty with his sweeping the interests of Monsanto completely under the carpet as not being “his problem”.

  • I know that the U.S. supplies a large percentage of the world food supply and that no one is more efficient at food production. Kudos to the industry for all the advances to date…however, I agree with “table of Promise” that the consumers should decide the fate of GMO’s.

    And while diplomacy sometimes requires playing “hardball”, using food as a weapon is just flat WRONG

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  • Joseph Docu

    Just in case you are wondering who your gov’t works for, this post of marion’s is a clear signal that it sure ain’t you or me. What about big corporations with well-paid teams of lobbyists? You betcha.

  • Paul Charles Leddy

    Wow, as a moron, I just realized the lie of capitalism!

    Now, I’m going to shoot myself.

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