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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
02VATICAN6141
2002-12-27 13:51:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Vatican
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR PRESSES VATICAN DIPLOMATIC COLLEAGUES

Tags:  SENV ETRD TBIO EAGR EAID VT 
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						UNCLAS VATICAN 006141 

SIPDIS

2ND C O R R E C T E D COPY (ADDED ADDRESSEE(S), PARAS RENUMBERED)

STATE FOR SCIENCE ADVISOR NEUREITER
EUR/ERA FOR HEN-NIL
EB FOR CEKUTA AND SCHONANDER
OES
STATE PASS USDA FOR APHIS:SMCCAMMON, USDA/FAS:BLUM
USDA/FAS/ITT:EJONES, USDA/FAS/OA:SLUTSKY
USDA/OS/HEGWOOD
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 VATICA 06141 010934Z
STATE PASS FDA FOR EFLAMM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ETRD TBIO EAGR EAID VT
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR PRESSES VATICAN DIPLOMATIC COLLEAGUES
FOR SUPPORT ON AFRICAN FAMINE AND BIOTECH FEARS



1. SUMMARY: AMBASSADOR HOSTED A MEETING ON THE AFRICA
FAMINE AND U.S. BIOTECH RELIEF FOOD DECEMBER 18 FOR THIRTY
HOLY SEE DIPLOMATIC COLLEAGUES FROM EUROPE, AFRICA, ASIA,
AND LATIN AMERICA. WORLD FOOD PROGRAM DEPUTY EXECUTIVE
DIRECTOR JEAN JACQUES GRAISSE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO FODAG
TONY HALL, AND ITALIAN GENETICIST FROM THE ITALIAN NATIONAL
RESEARCH CENTER IN NAPLES DR. ROBERTO DEFEZ BRIEFED THE
HOLY SEE AMBASSADORS ON THE STATE OF THE AFRICAN FAMINE AND
URGED THEM TO WORK BOTH WITH THEIR CAPITALS AND WITH THE
HOLY SEE TO DEVELOP MORE HUMANITARIAN RELIEF. ALL
PRESENTERS, INCLUDING AMBASSADOR NICHOLSON, OFFERED CLEAR
AND COMPELLING COMMENTARY ON THE NEED TO DO MORE TO RESPOND
TO THIS CRISIS AND EMPHASIZED THE SAFETY OF US FOOD. END
SUMMARY.



2. WFP DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JEAN JACQUES GRAISSE LAID
OUT THE FOOD NEEDS FOR AFRICA OVER THE COMING MONTHS,
FOCUSING ON THE FOLLY OF REFUSING TO ACCEPT "COMPLETELY
SAFE" U.S. FOOD. HE TERMED THIS "THE MOST ABSURD
SITUATION" HE HAD SEEN IN A CAREER OF RELIEF WORK.
AMBASSADOR HALL REVIEWED HIS RECENT MISSION TO AFRICA AND
URGED THE AMBASSADORS TO GET THEIR GOVERNMENTS TO STEP UP
THEIR ASSISTANCE LEVELS, BOTH OF COMMODITIES AND OF CASH.
HE UNDERSCORED THE MORAL ISSUES AT HAND, AND NOTED THAT HOW
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 VATICA 06141 010934Z
POLITICAL LEADERS RESPOND -- BOTH IN FAMINE-STRUCK
COUNTRIES AND DONOR COUNTRIES, WILL BE HELD IN JUDGMENT BY
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. DR. DEFEZ' PRESENTATION
UNDERSCORED BOTH THE RELATIVE AND ABSOLUTE SAFETY OF
BIOTECH FOODS WHEN COMPARED TO CONVENTIONAL AND ORGANIC
FOODS. DEFEZ ALSO EXPLAINED THE ENVIRONMENTAL
INNOCUOUSNESS OF BIOTECH CROPS, WHICH HE DESCRIBED AS "WEAK
COMPETITORS IN A NATURAL ENVIRONMENT."



3. THE HOLY SEE AMBASSADORS' COMMENTS WERE GENERALLY
POSITIVE, WITH THE GERMAN AMBASSADOR NOTING THAT THE
AFRICAN FAMINE HAS SEIZED THE ATTENTION OF THE EU, WHICH
WILL DEVOTE OVER 100 MILLION EURO TO IT IN COMING MONTHS.
THE GREEK AMBASSADOR QUESTIONED WHETHER AFRICAN OPPOSITION
TO US FOOD WAS "POLITICAL" (WE TOLD HIM IT WAS ROOTED IN
FEAR OF EU REACTIONS, NOT FEAR THAT THE FOOD WAS AMERICAN).
CANADIAN AMBASSADOR LICARI, AN OLD AFRICA HAND, EXPRESSED
HIS COUNTRY'S FRUSTRATION WITH THE ZAMBIAN GOVERNMENT'S
DECISION TO REFUSE US FOOD ASSISTANCE, BUT TOLD THE
ASSEMBLED GUESTS THAT MORE AFRICAN VOICES NEEDED TO BE
HEARD. HE SAID THE US NEEDED TO ENGAGE IN A MORE EFFECTIVE
"INFORMATION CAMPAIGN" TO EDUCATE AFRICAN LEADERS ABOUT US
FOOD. THE DUTCH AMBASSADOR'S WIFE LATER REPORTED TO MRS.
NICHOLSON THAT HER HUSBAND THOUGHT THE MEETING WAS THE MOST
MEANINGFUL TWO HOURS HE HAD SPENT IN HIS ENTIRE DIPLOMATIC
CAREER.



4. COMMENT: IN BRINGING TOGETHER THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS, WE
HAVE SOUGHT TO STIMULATE OUR DIPLOMATIC COLLEAGUES TO
GREATER AWARENESS AND ACTIVITY VIS-A-VIS THE AFRICA FAMINE
AND STEP UP INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE ON THE HOLY SEE TO
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 VATICA 06141 010934Z
ABANDON THE CAUTION THAT HAS CHARACTERIZED ITS POSITION ON
THE SAFETY OF US FOOD ASSISTANCE TO DATE. MOST OF THE
AMBASSADORS/CHARGES TOOK DETAILED NOTES, AND MANY INDICATED
THEY WOULD REPORT U.S. CONCERNS BACK TO CAPITALS. WE HAVE
PRESSED AND WILL CONTINUE TO PRESS THE DEAN OF THE VATICAN
DIPLOMATIC CORPS (FROM SAN MARINO) TO MAKE THIS ISSUE A
THEME OF HIS ANNUAL GREETING TO THE POPE ON JANUARY 13.
THE POPE'S RESPONSE, WHICH IS PICKED UP BY MEDIA ALL OVER
THE WORLD, COULD VERY WELL PROVIDE AMMUNITION TO USE WITH
BISHOPS CONFERENCES AND OTHER ELEMENTS OF THE CHURCH THAT
HAVE BEEN UNHELPFUL ON THE BIOTECH MESSAGE IN RECENT
MONTHS.
NICHOLSON

UNCLASSIFIED

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2002VATICA06141 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED