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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03VATICAN4874 2003-10-24 12:52:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vatican
Cable title:  

BIOTECH: IIP VISITOR GIDDINGS INFORMS VATICAN

Tags:   PREL EAGR TBIO VT 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  UNCLAS  VATICAN 004874 

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR EUR/WE (Levin); OES; IIP/T/ES (Durant); IIP/G/EUR
(Siemonh); EB (Chase); EB/TPP/ABT/BTT (Malac)

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: PREL EAGR TBIO VT
SUBJECT: BIOTECH: IIP VISITOR GIDDINGS INFORMS VATICAN
OFFICIALS, DIPLOMATS

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SUMMARY
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1.Embassy hosted Dr. Val Giddings, Vice-President for
Food and Agriculture at the US Biotechnology Industry
Organization, for a two-day program of talks and
presentations with Holy See officials and the Vatican
diplomatic community in late September. The Coordinator of
International Information Programs (IIP) sponsored the
visit. Giddings' presentations debunked the popular
mythology surrounding agricultural biotech and highlighted
the moral imperative of developing biotech foods, given
their potential for alleviating famine in developing
countries.



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ONE-ON-ONE CONTACT


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2. Giddings' program included one-on-one meetings with key
Vatican biotech players including officials at the
Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Holy See's
Permanent Observer to the FAO and WFP, and the vice-
president of the Pontifical Council for Life. Ambassador
Nicholson hosted a working lunch where Giddings met with
scientists, Italian agricultural specialists and Vatican
officials to discuss biotech issues. These meetings
reinforced our effort to expand understanding among key
Vatican decision makers and to resolve some of their
outstanding concerns.



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PUBLIC OUTREACH


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3. At a public lecture at the prestigious Regina
Apostolorum Pontifical University, Giddings addressed
common misconceptions on biotech and the moral aspects of
the question. Following the speech and a question and
answer period, Giddings spoke to journalists from the
Regina Apostolorum newsletter and ANSA, the principal
Italian news agency, about the many biotech "myths"
circulating in Europe. Additionally, Vatican Radio
interviewed Giddings about the scientific and moral/ethical
aspects of biotechnology. His comments were broadcast to
an international audience with millions of potential
listeners. The interview was later available on Vatican
Radio's web site.



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WORKING THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS


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4.Central to Giddings' visit was an extremely successful
round-table hosted by the Ambassador with diplomats
accredited to the Holy See and selected representatives of
the Holy See. Giddings reviewed key issues surrounding
biotechnology and refuted specious anti-biotech arguments
proffered by some in the group. Some 30 ambassadors
accredited to the Vatican attended the session in a crowd
of nearly 40 diplomatic personnel. At the request of
attendees, Embassy provided additional reading material on
biotech issues, and a copy of Giddings power point
presentation to interested embassies following the event.
Ambassadors from Israel, Canada, Greece and Germany emerged
as allies for biotech promotion at the Holy See.



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



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COMMENT: VISIT SET STAGE FOR VATICAN CONFERENCE, AND MORE


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



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5.The Holy See's Council for Justice and Peace will host
an international meeting in Vatican City in mid-November to
consider the science, ethics and moral implications of
biotechnology (reftels). Giddings' visit helped set the
stage for the Vatican conference, providing useful
background and ammunition for those open to the development
of biotech foods, and challenging the naysayers, as well as
framing the issue for the wider Vatican community. Our
outreach to the diplomatic corps has proven especially
important as other missions have begun to join us in
pressing the Holy See on the issue and could help influence
their capitals by linking the scientific and moral
arguments regarding biotech foods. Giddings' visit
advanced an ongoing effort to build the moral case for
biotech to a Vatican and diplomatic audience attuned to
moral issues.
E




6. Embassy thanks IIP for providing the funding and
support for Giddings' visit. Such outreach is key to
winning over the Vatican to the potential of biotechnology
in combating hunger and disease; and protecting the
environment, especially in the developing world.

Nicholson


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2003VATICA04874 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED