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09BOGOTA25 2009-01-08 21:12:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Bogota
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1. (U) SUMMARY: Post requests that EEB fund a
Spanish-speaking U.S. expert on biotech policy, focusing on
drafting and implementing legislation to promote
biotechnology. Rather than addressing the safety or
environmental effects of biotechnology, this speaker should
discuss how to develop a pro-investment and pro-science
biotech legal framework. Post's primary objective is to
explore with Colombian congressional representatives,
ministry officials, the press and researchers, the legal
framework needed for biotechnology to thrive. This outreach
will target policy-makers vis-a-vis direct and small group
discussions. The goal of the outreach is also to engage with
the agricultural sector via a presentation at AgroFuturo - an
annual event sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture - where
the speaker will present the benefits of biotechnology to a
larger and broader audience. This speaker program would
support USG and Post economic policy objectives by helping to
develop a biotechnology legal framework that has the
potential to open new markets for U.S. exporters, and the
potential to increase Colombia's capacity to meet its food
security needs. Upon approval, Post will work on identifying
a specific speaker candidate in coordination with the
Department. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) STATEMENT OF PROBLEM: Colombian lawmakers'
knowledge of biotechnology is limited and policymakers are
subject to the influence of consumer and environmental
activists that oppose implementation and expansion of
science-based biotechnology in Colombia. A law to regulate
different aspects of biotechnology was recently discussed in
several legislative sessions. Last year, an attempt to
legislate mandatory labeling of GMO products and bi-products
was defeated but reintroduced into Congress for consideration
in 2009. This legislation would create a restrictive legal
framework for production, trade and distribution of biotech
goods. The attempt to change legislation in Colombia would
adversely affect trade (especially imports) of biotech
products, impacting key U.S. GMO exports such as corn,
soybeans and products made from these commodities. The
speaker would expose anti-biotech lawmakers to the safety of
GMOs and their economic benefits. This year would be ideal
timing to influence this process in a factual and non-biased

3. (U) COST: Program would be supported wholly from EEB
funds. Estimated cost of this program is USD 5,750 which
will include transportation, lodging, and interpretation (if
needed) as follows:

Transport: USD 2,000 (R/T US-Bogota)
Local Travel (R/T most likely to Medellin): USD 750
Per diem (3 program and 2 travel days): USD 1,250
Interpretation (USD 500/day): USD 1,500 (as needed)
Miscellaneous: (Meeting Room/invitations): USD 250

4. (U) TIME FRAME: Post is looking for the most qualified
speaker on this subject and is flexible on the dates of the
program. Optimally, post would like to have a speaker in
June 2009 during AgroFuturo, the largest agricultural policy
forum in Colombia. AgroFuturo is an annual event hosted by
the Ministry of Agriculture.

PROGRAM: This program meets Post's FY 2009 MSP goal of
"Promoting Economic Growth and Security" by helping to create
a legal environment where new biotech products can thrive.
The development of a favorable biotech environment has the
potential to increase and open new markets for U.S. exporters
of biotech products. Furthermore, the Colombian Congress
recently passed legislation increasing the funding for
science, technology and innovation (STI) activities and
research -- with the hopes that STI can increase the
country's productivity and become a driver of economic growth
-- and with the appropriate legal environment, biotech R&D
could become a greater priority for the GOC. A speaker
program on biotechnology will directly support the goals of
increasing bilateral economic ties and helping Colombia
increase food security.

6. (U) AUDIENCE: Speaker will primarily address
policy-makers such as representatives from the House and
Senate; Ministries of Agriculture, Environment, Energy,
Social Protection, Commerce and Foreign Affairs; the
Colombian Institute of Science (Colciencias) and Colombian
Institute for Agriculture (ICA). In addition, the speaker
will also address a broader audience at the AgroFuturo forum.

7. (U) IIP PARTICIPATION: There will be no IIP
participation in this program.

8. (U) LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS: Fluent Spanish strongly

Megan Selmon; Email address:; Telephone
number: 011-57-383-2451; Cell phone number: 320-488-0210.
FAS Program Officer: Todd Drennan; Email address:; Telephone number: 011-57-315-2033;
Cell phone number: 320-498-4250.