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Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EURecommendation by US Ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton [Emphasis added]

WikiLeaked cables released over the weekend revealed more about the US’ role as a global bully, trying to thrust unpopular genetically modified (GM) crops onto cautious governments and their citizens. In a 2007 cable from Craig Stapleton, then US Ambassador to France, he encouraged the US government to “reinforce our negotiating position with the EU on agricultural biotechnology by publishing a retaliation list.” A list, he added, that “causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility.”

The stated reason for their attack was that “Europe is moving backwards not forwards” on GMOs, with “France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the [EU] Commission.” The Ambassador was concerned that France and others would put a ban on the cultivation of Monsanto’s GM corn seeds called Mon 810, engineered with a gene that produces a toxic insect-killing pesticide in every cell. Mon 810 is the first GM crop approved for planting EU-wide and has been a test case for biotech expansionism into the continent.

According to the cable, the Ambassador also rejected the France’s new “Grenelle” environment process, which looks beyond just the science of new technologies to also take into account “common interest.” Evidently a government that looks out for common interest is just too much for Ambassador Stapleton. He wrote, “Combined with the precautionary principle, this is a precedent with implications far beyond MON-810 BT corn cultivation.”

He was also upset about France’s draft biotech law that “would make farmers and seed companies legally liable for pollen drift.” This concept that the “polluter pays” is a foundational principle of US law — except for GMOs. Here Stapleton also wants France to give a free pass for Monsanto and the other GM seed companies.

The French government and EU Commission tried to placate the US suggesting that the rejections of Mon 810 “are only cultivation rather than import bans.” But Stapleton says, “We see the cultivation ban as a first step, at least by anti-GMO advocates, who will move next to ban or further restrict imports.”

The ambassador fails to point out that a de facto ban of GM ingredients in food has been in place since 1999, not by the government, but by the food industry. They have kept GMOs out of their products due to widespread consumer concern about the health effects. Since foods containing GMOs must be labeled in Europe, companies always source non-GMO food to avoid that label.

The exception is animal feed. EU law does not require meat or other animal products to label whether GMOs were fed to the animals. This loophole has allowed lots of US- and Brazil-grown GMO animal feed to be shipped to Europe. According to the cable, “The [French] environment minister’s top aide told us that people have a right not to buy meat raised on biotech feed.” Offering consumers a choice on GMOs is not on the US government agenda.

Ambassador Stapleton had been a co-owner with George W. Bush of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Once Bush was in office, Stapleton became US Ambassador to the Czech Republic, and then in France. His pro-GMO stance was in-line with the Bush administration, which used a WTO lawsuit to try to force Europe to accept GMOs.

Stapleton’s tone in the letter was insistent. “We should not be prepared to cede on cultivation because of our considerable planting seed business in Europe.”

He said, “Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices. In fact, the pro-biotech side in France — including within the farm union — have told us retaliation is the only way to begin to begin to turn this issue in France.”

Update:

  • France banned Mon 810 in early 2008. Several other EU nations have also banned it.
  • In 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine stated that animal feeding studies on GMOs showed significant health disorders. They called on the US government to institute an immediate moratorium, and asked all doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets in the meantime.
  • This year, the major French retailer Carefour introduced a new “Reared without GMOs” label for meat raised on non-GMO feed.
  • The Non-GMO Shopping Guide released in the US lists thousands of products that do not use GM ingredients, either directly or via animal feed.

11 Responses to “WikiLeaks: US Should Retaliate Against EU for Genetically Modifed Resistance”

  1. jorge crespo

    While ignorance imposes itself as a mechanism of the Capitalism, to grow selvatically, the peoples are hostages on their own yard and the politians they elect are the best their ignorance is capable to select.

    Reply
  2. Christine Baker

    It’s great to see Jeff’s article here — as always, great work!

    I’m not sure what Wiki Leaks is ultimately all about, but there’s definitely some very useful information coming out.

    I just hope that Jeff and permaculturenews.org aren’t going to be prosecuted by the crazy US government for publishing the truth.

    Reply
  3. Raw Food Novice Sim Garner

    Most people don’t actually believe that their elected (or appointed) government officials would knowingly make/take money from something or someone that cares more about money than life. Most people whether in a capitalist or other economic environment will stretch the truth a lot to make a dollar/euro but they would not sell you something that they knew would kill you. The problem is that most of the really rich around the world would.

    You have to look at issues from both sides. We are all raised on propaganda provided by our governments and most people take a lot of convincing to make them see the bad side of their instilled beliefs. But in the end they usually see and make change paramount.

    You can see by the information being made freely available over the internet and the interest it evokes that people are starting to see and to take action. As the ball continues to roll it will grow bigger and bigger.

    Today one of the major concerns everyone should have is their health and to have good health the foods we eat are of paramount importance.

    Reply
  4. Wally Humblebee

    America founded on slavery, drugs, and prostitution. Searching for gold all they found was Corn. They hated the plant and now America depends on it. America stands for greed. Those in it are domesticated. What will they do? Destroy the ecosystem because God put it there for them to waste, they believe. Sorry my country is controlled by not me nor my mom it is controlled by people Ill never meet.
    _Wally

    Reply
  5. Yeo-Thomas

    I do hope the Europeans will fight monsanto and GMOs with tooth and claw. Here in America we have no one to fight for us at the political level. Our senate, both parties {as if anyone is so dumb to think there is any difference between them}, all 100 senators voted for S510. This gives total control of everything to do with food, growing, selling, giving, saving seeds, to the federal gov’t or FDA. In case any of you do not know our gov’t lets monsanto employees run our FDA. It matter not if it is a democrat or republican in the white house, GMO monsanto gets to run the roost. Please people of europe, do not let GMOs get even the tinyist toe hold in your lands or it will be the beginning of the end.

    Reply
  6. Doug Crouch

    Wally as an American who spends most of his time overseas, I would like to remind to remind to all that America is more than just about greed. I struggle with the strong feeling of greed here but I was just at a local farmers market buying food from my permaculture friends and ferment friends. They are not greedy people, I mean yeah, they are trying to earn money, cause they have kids and what not but they are not greedy. I teach Permaculture globally and several times after workshops people have come up to me and said, hey thanks for doing this, and thanks for showing me that not all Americans are bad people. WHy because I teach courses for a low price and live simply. So I know how crazy lots of society is in the America but I ask for the sake of the millions of good people in America that we not all get labeled as greedy. We have a great local foods movement and in some ways our regenerative ag work in the states is far superior than Europe ( I spend most of my year there teaching and designing). At the end of the day if you don’t like GMO don’t eat it. And don’t drive it. 41% of the corn crop this year went to bio-fuel.

    Jeffrey as always nice article. I will see you again in Fairfield, IA here shortly back at the University. We have met a couple of times, I teach Permaculture with Lonnie Gamble in your town at MUM. When Dr Ingham comes back in May we should grab a bite.

    Great quote from an amazing American, Wendell Berry: “Eating is an Agricultural Act.”

    Reply
  7. Thomas Fischbacher

    Yeo-Thomas,

    Given how important S510 seems to be, I am fairly surprised how difficult it is to find the actual text and an explanation of the problematic bits online. Does anyone have a trustworthy source? This, after all, seems to certainly require more attention.

    Reply
  8. Sax

    This behavior is really upset me!
    We will do everything against GMOs! They tried to introduce a new potato but it was banned. Hungary (in European Union) want to be a safe place but the money talks, I fear…
    As far as I know the most of the people are against the GMOs, the is the hope.

    Reply
  9. Samba

    Sign the petition to U.S. and other governments and corporations involved in the crackdown on WikiLeaks:
    We call on you to stop the crackdown on WikiLeaks and its partners immediately. We urge you to respect democratic principles and laws of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
    Sign the petitition here:
    https://secure.avaaz.org/en/wikileaks_petition/?fpbr

    Reply

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