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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03ZAGREB245 2003-01-31 17:02:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Zagreb
Cable title:  

WTO BIOTECH PUBLIC DIPLOMACY RESOURCE

Tags:   KPAO EAGR ETRD TBIO HR 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

311702Z Jan 03
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ZAGREB 000245 

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USTR/PADILLA
STATE FOR EB/EPPD/PD AND EUR/PPD
VIENNA FOR FAS
BUDAPEST FOR ENVIRO HUB

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2013
TAGS: KPAO EAGR ETRD TBIO EAGR ETRD TBIO HR HRKPAO
SUBJECT: WTO BIOTECH PUBLIC DIPLOMACY RESOURCE
CONFIDENTIAL


PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00245 01 OF 02 311719Z
QUERY-CROATIAN CONTEXT

REF: STATE 21881

CLASSIFIED BY: ECONOMIC OFFICER, ISABELLA DETWILER,
REASONS 1.5 (D AND E)

SUMMARY
-------



1. (SBU) POST FEEDBACK ON REFTEL WTO BIOTECH MEDIA STRATEGY
IS SHAPED BY OUR ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT IN THE ISSUE AND
CROATIA'S STATUS AS AN EU ASPIRANT WHICH PLANS TO SUBMIT AN
APPLICATION FOR ACCESSION NEXT MONTH. IN CROATIA, THERE IS
LITTLE PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING OF TRADE ISSUES, EVEN LESS OF
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL OR DEVELOPMENT ISSUES. THUS OUR
CAMPAIGN WOULD FOCUS ON ISSUES DEAR TO CROATIANS -- THE FOOD
THEY EAT AND THEIR DESIRE TO KNOW WHAT IT IS THEY ARE EATING.
END SUMMARY.

REACTIONS TO SUGGESTED MESSAGES


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





2. (SBU) POST GENERALLY AGREES WITH THE THEMES OFFERED
REFTEL. TO TAILOR THE MESSAGE, AFTER MAKING THE STRONG POINT
THAT THE WTO DISPUTE IS NOT ABOUT WHETHER THE BIOTECH IS SAFE
OR NOT -- THE EU CONCEDES IT IS -- BUT RATHER THE FAILURE OF
THE EU TO FOLLOW THROUGH ON INTERNATIONALLY ACCEPTED RULES,
WE NEED TO ADDRESS VIGOROUSLY THE PUBLIC PERCEPTION THAT
BIOTECH FOODS ARE SUSPECT AND THAT THE US DOES NOT RESPECT
CROATIANS' RIGHT TO CHOOSE. IF WE DO NOT OVERCOME THAT
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00245 01 OF 02 311719Z
PERCEPTION, WE COULD WIN THE TRADE BATTLE BUT LOSE THE
MARKETING WAR.



3. (C) FOLLOWING COMMENTS ARE KEYED TO REFTEL:

-- THEMES A AND B (WTO COMMITMENTS, RULES-BASED APPROVAL
PROCESS): WE NEED TO MAKE CLEAR THAT THE EU HAS A PROCESS TO
REVIEW APPLICATIONS FOR THE BIOTECH PRODUCTS, HAS DETERMINED
THEY ARE SAFE, AND IS STALLING NONE THE LESS. WHILE A
DETAILED ANALYSIS OF THE TRADE ISSUES MAY BE USEFUL FOR OUR
GOVERNMENT INTERLOCUTOR, WE WILL NEED TO KEEP IT SIMPLE FOR
THE PRESS AND THE PUBLIC.

-- THEME C (MISINFORMATION AGGRAVATING FAMINE IN AFRICA): TO
DATE, THE CROATIAN PUBLIC HAS NOT BEEN SEIZED WITH THIS
ISSUE. ITS RECEPTIVITY TO THIS MESSAGE IS UNCERTAIN.

- THEME D (BIOTECH SAFE, NO SCIENTIFIC BASE FOR MORATORIUM):
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT THEME TO PURSUE IN CROATIA.
UNFORTUNATELY, FOR EVERY SCIENTIFIC STUDY WE CAN OFFER UP,
THE OPPONENTS OF BIOTECH ARE ABLE TO OFFER UP ANOTHER STUDY,
WHICH WHILE OF MORE-THAN-DUBIOUS QUALITY, OFTEN REDUCE OUR
IMPACT. CITING SOURCES WHICH HAVE CONCLUDED THAT BIOTECH IS
SAFE, SUCH AS THE EU ITSELF AND THE WHO, WOULD BE VALUABLE,
AS THEY ARE CONSIDERED MORE NEUTRAL THAN THE USG.

-- THEME E (BIOTECH WILL HELP DEVELOPING COUNTRIES):
CROATIANS ARE NOT OVERLY CONCERNED WITH ECONOMIC GROWTH IN
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES; WHAT THEY WORRY ABOUT IS ERODING A
NICHE THEY HOPE TO EXPLOIT AS AN UNSPOILED, "NATURAL"
MEDITERRANEAN PARADISE FOR EUROPEAN TOURISTS. THEY ARE ALSO
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 04 ZAGREB 00245 01 OF 02 311719Z
WORRIED THAT IF THEY PLANT BIOTECH FOODS, THEY MAY ENDANGER
THEIR EXPORT PROSPECTS TO THE EU.

-- THEME F (BIOTECH ENVIRONMENTALLY BENEFICIAL): CROATIANS
ARE NOT INTELLECTUALLY CONSISTENT ON THE ENVIRONMENT. THE
MAJORITY OF CROATIANS REGARD CROATIA AS ENVIRONMENTALLY PURE
AND ARE PERFECTLY WILLING TO THINK OF GMO-FREE FOODS AS
"HEALTHY FOODS," NO MATTER HOW MUCH PESTICIDE WAS USED TO
GROW THEM. NEVERTHELESS, IT IS A MESSAGE WORTH PUTTING OUT,
HOPEFULLY APPEALING TO SOME MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE
PEOPLE AT THE MARGINS AND POINTING UP THE FALLACY THAT
GMO-FREE EQUALS "ENVIRONMENTAL." FIGURES SHOWING HOW MUCH
PESTICIDE IS USED ON AN AMERICAN CORNFIELD VERSUS ITS
EUROPEAN COUNTERPART COULD BE ILLUMINATING.

-- THEME G (CONSUMER CHOICE): THIS COULD BE A POWERFUL
ARGUMENT HERE. BUT IT IS A DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD, SINCE THE
CROATIAN PUBLIC BELIEVES CONSUMER CHOICE MUST BE ENSURED BY
LABELING. A RECENT US SPEAKER TRIED TO MAKE THE ARGUMENT
THAT LABELING OF BIOTECH FOODS WOULD REDUCE CONSUMER CHOICE.
GROCERY MANUFACTURERS WOULD REFUSE TO USE BIOTECH SOURCES
SINCE CONSUMERS WOULD INEVITABLY REJECT BIOTECH FOODS LABELED
AS SUCH. THIS ARGUMENT DID NOT FIND RESONANCE HERE. EVEN
OUR STAUNCHEST ALLIES -- THE REPUTABLE, SERIOUS SCIENTIFIC
COMMUNITY, AGRONOMISTS, TRADE AND REGULATORY OFFICIALS --
THINK THAT MANDATORY LABELING IS AN INDISPENSABLE FIRST STEP

CONFIDENTIAL

CONFIDENTIAL PTQ1718

PAGE 01 ZAGREB 00245 02 OF 02 311720Z
ACTION EB-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AGRE-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CEA-01 CIAE-00
COME-00 CTME-00 DODE-00 SRPP-00 EUR-00 EXIM-01 E-00
VC-00 FRB-00 HHS-01 H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00
ITC-01 LAB-01 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00
OES-00 OIC-02 OMB-01 OPIC-01 PA-00 ACE-00 SP-00
SSO-00 SS-00 STR-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00 R-00 EPAE-00
ECA-00 IIP-00 DRL-01 G-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 SWCI-00
/012W


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

2F1ED4 311753Z /38
R 311702Z JAN 03
FM AMEMBASSY ZAGREB
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9357
INFO AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST
AMEMBASSY VIENNA
USMISSION GENEVA
USEU BRUSSELS

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 ZAGREB 000245

SIPDIS

STATE PASS USTR/PADILLA
STATE FOR EB/EPPD/PD AND EUR/PPD
VIENNA FOR FAS
BUDAPEST FOR ENVIRO HUB

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/23/2013
TAGS: KPAO EAGR ETRD TBIO EAGR ETRD TBIO HR HRKPAO
SUBJECT: WTO BIOTECH PUBLIC DIPLOMACY RESOURCE
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 02 ZAGREB 00245 02 OF 02 311720Z
QUERY-CROATIAN CONTEXT

TOWARD DISPELLING UNFOUNDED CONSUMER FEARS.



4. (C) WE MUST BE PREPARED TO ANSWER THE QUESTION "GIVEN
CROATIA'S DESIRE TO EXPORT TO THE EU, WEAK REGULATORY
STRUCTURE AND INSTITUTIONS, AND SMALL AREA, DOES THIS ACTION
AGAINST THE EU MEAN THAT THE US WILL NOT ALLOW CROATIA THE
TIME TO PUT INTO PLACE ALL THE STRUCTURES WE NEED TO CONTROL
BIOTECH CROPS AND TO PROVIDE THE MONITORING OUR POPULACE
DEMANDS OF OUR FOOD STOCKS?"

ALLIES IN A PUBLIC DIPLOMACY CAMPAIGN


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





5. (SBU) OUR BEST ALLIES IN THE PRO-BIOTECH CAMPAIGN HAVE
BEEN SCIENTISTS, MAINLY THOSE WHO THEMSELVES WORK IN THE AREA
OF BIOTECHNOLOGY. MUCH OF THE FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL
INDUSTRIES SEE BIOTECH AS EITHER A DIRECT COMPETITIVE THREAT,
OR A RISK FACTOR FOR FUTURE EXPORTS TO THE EU, SO HAVE NOT
BEEN PUBLIC SUPPORTERS OF BIOTECH. ADDITIONALLY, THEY HAVE
BEEN COWED BY A VOCAL, LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL NGO FROM EVEN
THINKING ABOUT SOURCING BIOTECH INPUTS. WE DO NOT KNOW OF
ANY JOURNALISTS WHO COULD BE CALLED "ADVOCATES" FOR BIOTECH,
BUT A NUMBER ARE WILLING TO PRESENT BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY.

SPECIFICS OF LOCAL REACTIONS TO A WTO-CASE


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





6. (C) MANY CROATIANS, INCLUDING GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS AND
PARLIAMENTARIANS, CLAIM THE US APPLIES A HARSHER STANDARD
CONFIDENTIAL

PAGE 03 ZAGREB 00245 02 OF 02 311720Z
AGAINST CROATIA THAN OTHER COUNTRIES. THEY HAVE ACCUSED US
OF THREATENING CROATIA WITH A WTO CASE WHEN THE GOVERNMENT
CONSIDERED INTRODUCING A TEMPORARY BAN ON THE IMPORT OF GMOS
(A DISTORTION OF THE TRUE STORY), WHILE ALLEGEDLY ALLOWING
NEW ZEALAND AND THE EU TO LIMIT THE IMPORT OF THESE PRODUCTS.
ALSO, A DE FACTO BAN ON SOME PRODUCTS IS IN PLACE WHILE THE
CROATIAN GOVERNMENT GLACIALLY DEVELOPS LEGISLATION AND
GUIDELINES FOR EVALUATING AND APPROVING BIOTECH PRODUCTS. A
WTO CASE WOULD SERVE NOTICE THAT WE WILL NOT ACCEPT
INDEFINITE DELAYS. HOWEVER, IT RISKS ALSO HARDENING ALREADY
ENTRENCHED NEGATIVE FEELINGS ABOUT THE PRODUCTS THAT WE HOPE
TO SELL.

THE MESSAGE


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





7. (C) IN CROATIA, THE MOST EFFECTIVE MESSAGE WOULD
EMPHASIZE THAT THE EU ITSELF HAS FOUND THESE FOODS TO BE NO
MORE RISKY THAN TRADITIONAL FOODS. THE EU HAS HAD BIOTECH
CROPS (SOY AND CORN) ON THE MARKET FOR YEARS WITH NO ILL
EFFECTS, AND DESPITE THIS IT IS RAISING ARTIFICIAL BARRIERS.
WE ARE NOT ASKING THAT THE EU DISPENSE WITH ITS APPROVAL
PROCESS, BUT RATHER ASKING IT TO START USING IT.
ROSSIN

CONFIDENTIAL

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