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WikiLeaks exposes scale of US GM Lobbying

Buried deep amo.ng the confidential cables posted online by WlkiLeaks smce the last issue of The Land appeared are a number of dispatches detailing the extent to which the US Government has lobbied on behalf of its biotechnology industry. As well as funding extensive “outreach” programmes promoting the benefits of genetically engineered crops to countries across the global south, it appears the US singled out the EU, and in particular France, as a hotbed of resistance which needed to be addressed.

Buried deep amo.ng the confidential cables posted online by WlkiLeaks smce the last issue of The Land appeared are a number of dispatches detailing the extent to which the US Government has lobbied on behalf of its biotechnology industry. As well as funding extensive “outreach” programmes promoting the benefits of genetically engineered crops to countries across the global south, it appears the US singled out the EU, and in particular France, as a hotbed of resistance which needed to be addressed.

A 2007 cable from the US embassy in Paris details a meeting between US diplomats and representatives from Monsanto, DuPont and Dow-Agro-Sciences. At the meeting the three companies raised concerns about “increasing acts of vandalism to crops, particularly in light of an expected regulation which could require French farmers to make public the location of their biotech plots”. The cable also expresses concern about delays in the EU biotech approval process and the “politicisation of French regulatory decisions in the months leading up to the presidential election”. Following targeted lobbying by French farming unions a moratorium on commercial licences for Monsanto’s MON810 maize was in fact introduced following Sarkozy’s election later in 2007.

The following spring, US ambassador Craig Stapleton gives a pessimistic account of the debate held in the French parliament before the adoption of the 2008 Biotech Bill which strengthened the country’s control on GM crops. In this cable Stapleton argues that the government has “lost control of the issue” and concludes that “Prospects for the future of commercial biotech cultivation in France are uncertain at best”.

The adoption of the Bill in 2008 added weight to the case currently being brought by the U.S. government to the WTO court, which claims that European member states’ moratoriums on GM crops constitute a barrier to trade. Although Stapleton accepts that “retaliation via the WTO against the EU-wide moratorium may not move the French on ag biotech”, he concludes that “there is nothing to be gained in France from delaying retaliation”.

www.stopgm.org.uk