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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07PARIS515 2007-02-09 05:58:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Paris
Cable title:  

U.S. BIOTECH COMPANIES CONCERNS ABOUT SECURITY AND OUTLOOK

Tags:   EAGR ETRD EU FR 
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1. (SBU) Summary: On February 1, 2007, Embassy FAS, Econ, Science
and Regional Security Officers met with representatives of three
U.S. companies involved in agricultural biotechnology in France:
Monsanto, Dupont/Pioneer, Dow Agro-Sciences. The companies raised
concerns about security conditions, i.e., increasing acts of
vandalism, particularly in light of an expected regulation which
could require French farmers to make public the location of their
biotech plots. They expressed concern about the slowness of the EU
biotech approval process, and possible politicization of French
regulatory decisions in the months leading up to the presidential
election. End Summary.

Security


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





2. (SBU) The three companies emphasized their concerns about the
security of their information, property and staff, due to the annual
destruction of two thirds of biotech test plots in France,
demonstrations and attacks on their buildings and on a silo
containing GM corn harvested in 2006 (Reftel). Consequently, the
companies loose money and data, while staff morale suffers.
Monsanto and Pioneer said they systematically file complaints when
their properties are destroyed.



3. (SBU) The companies asked for Embassy support via communication
with the French police services to make sure they treat announced
acts of violence seriously, and via help in finding scientists
willing to testify at trials. Post Regional Security Officer (RSO)
offered to help them bolster their prevention efforts, individually
and/or collectively. RSO discussed OSAC (Overseas Security Advisory
Council), encouraged the companies to participate in the France
chapter and indicated a desire to include biotech-specific concerns
in the next country council meeting.

Potential New Requirement for Transparency on Biotech Crops Location



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





4. (SBU) Monsanto, Pioneer and Dow Agro Sciences expressed their
concerns about a decree the GOF is expected to publish very shortly
making available to the public the location of biotech crops. The
level of disclosure could be a municipality, but it is feared that
names of individual farmers may be publicized. (Note: While the EU
Directive 2001/18 requires transparency, its level is up to each EU
Member State. End Note.) While expectations were for a continuing
increase in biotech plantings (from 500 hectares of GM corn in 2005,
to 5,000 ha in 2006 and up to 50,000 ha in 2007), this new
regulation is expected to slow down the adoption of biotech crops by
French farmers if disclosure is at the farm level due to security
fears. (Note : Emboffs have made representations on this issue,
trying to discourage transparency at the farm level. End note)

EC Approvals Process


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





5. (SBU) The companies expressed frustration with the slow approvals
process in Brussels, noting that despite EFSA approvals, DG
Environment and SANCO kept presenting obstacles. They inquired
about USG followup in light of the WTO decision on EC biotech
process.



6. (SBU) With regard to France's influence on the process, the
company reps felt that France's recent abstention on a BASF biotech
potato event signaled a new reluctance by the GOF to vote in favor
of new biotech varieties, particularly since France has had a fairly
positive voting record and technical contacts had signaled that they
didn't have any problems with the BASF dossier. The U.S. companies
are concerned about politicization of France's position in the
months leading up to the French presidential election, particularly
in view of the number and importance of products (currently 4
Monsanto products and 1 Pioneer-Dow product) in the approval

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pipeline. The companies also fear that France's vote could
influence other MS such as Portugal, and those which recently joined
the EU.



7. (SBU) The companies concluded that an interesting angle to argue
for EU approval of their new products is that without these new
approvals, increased quantities of agricultural commodities will
enter Europe with the risk of containing GM products unauthorized in
the EU, although authorized in the U.S. and other countries.



8. (SBU) Comment: With the presidential and parliamentary elections
scheduled for the spring, the highly-charged political atmosphere in
France does not bode well for either continuing adoption of approved
varieties by farmers or French support for approval of new
varieties. End Comment.

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