Viewing cable 02VATICAN4909
Title: HOLY SEE: FM TAURAN REPLY TO SECRETARY'S LETTER ON

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
02VATICAN49092002-10-08 14:36:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Vatican
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 004909 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/WE (MENNUTI), EB/TPP (CEKUTA), AND AF/S 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL ECON EAID EAGR SENV SOCI ZA RP ECON EAID EAGR SENV SOCI ZA RP VT VTPREL
SUBJECT: HOLY SEE: FM TAURAN REPLY TO SECRETARY'S LETTER ON 
BIOTECH FOOD SAFETY AND SOUTHERN AFRICAN FOOD CRISIS 
 
REF: A) VATICAN 4361   B) STATE 177956 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  04909  01 OF 02  081513Z 
 
¶1.   (SBU)  IN HIS REPLY TO SECRETARY POWELL'S LETTER 
REQUESTING A STRONG HOLY SEE STATEMENT REGARDING THE SAFETY 
OF U.S. BIOTECH FOOD ASSISTANCE IN SOUTHERN AFRICA (REF B), 
HOLY SEE FOREIGN MINISTER EQUIVALENT ARCHBISHOP JEAN-LOUIS 
TAURAN GAVE NO INDICATION THAT THE HOLY SEE WOULD OFFER A 
STRONG PUBLIC STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF U.S. FOOD ASSISTANCE, 
BUT REAFFIRMED THAT THE VATICAN IS OPEN TO FULL ACCEPTANCE 
OF BIOTECH FOOD TECHNOLOGY AFTER "PROPER" SCIENTIFIC STUDY. 
FURTHERMORE, HE AGREED THAT BIOTECH FOODS SHOULD BE SHARED 
WITH LESS DEVELOPED COUNTRIES.  TAURAN'S DEPUTY TOLD DCM 
OCTOBER 3 THAT AS A RESULT OF THE LETTER, PAPAL NUNCIO'S IN 
THE REGION HAD BEEN PROVIDED THE CONCLUSIONS OF A 1998 STUDY 
GROUP DOCUMENT OF THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE (WHICH WAS 
GENERALLY POSITIVE TOWARD CONSUMPTION OF BIOTECH FOODS) AND 
ASKED THAT THE NUNCIOS SHARE THIS WITH THE BISHOPS IN THE 
REGION.  DESPITE THE CAUTIOUS TENOR OF THE LETTER AND ITS 
SUPPORT FOR LABELING OF BIOTECH FOODS, POST REGARDS THIS 
LETTER AS A SMALL STEP FORWARD IN OBTAINING THE HOLY SEE'S 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT THERE IS NO REASON FOR REJECTION OF 
BIOTECH FOODS. 
 
¶2.  (SBU)  THE RESPONSE, COUCHED WITH CHARACTERISTIC VATICAN 
CAUTION, CONVEYS THE HOLY SEE'S APPRECIATION OF THE U.S. 
ROLE IN OFFERING ASSISTANCE TO ALLEVIATE FURTHER HUNGER AND 
STARVATION.  WHILE ASSERTING THAT THE HOLY SEE IS "NOT IN A 
POSITION" TO EVALUATE WHETHER COUNTRIES SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT 
USE SPECIFIC FOODS, IT OFFERS A NUMBER OF GENERALLY POSITIVE 
"CONSIDERATIONS" LEADING TO THE VIEW THAT THERE IS NO REASON 
FOR REJECTION OF BIOTECH FOODS, WHICH "SHOULD BE AVAILABLE 
TO POPULATIONS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES."  AT THE SAME TIME, 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        VATICA  04909  01 OF 02  081513Z 
THE HOLY SEE INSISTED THAT THE USE OF BIOTECH FOODS SHOULD 
BE ACCOMPANIED BY A "RIGOROUS AND PROPORTIONED CAUTION" AND 
SHOULD BE CLEARLY IDENTIFIED FOR THE PUBLIC. 
 
¶3. (U)  THE 1998 STUDY OF THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE TO 
WHICH TAURAN REFERS PROVIDED A GENERALLY POSITIVE ASSESSMENT 
OF THE POSSIBILITIES OF BIOTECH FOODS.  FOR EXAMPLE, IT 
CONCEDED THAT BIOTECHNOLOGY WAS "WITHOUT DOUBT A FORMIDABLE 
TOOL FOR PRODUCING MORE AND BETTER FOOD."  BUT IT ALSO SAID 
THAT THE TECHNOLOGY "MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A RESPECT FOR 
THE ENVIRONMENT," AND, "DEVELOPED COUNTRIES MUST FIND WAYS 
TO SHARE BIOTECHNOLOGICAL CAPACITY WITH DEVELOPING 
COUNTRIES."  THE REPORT CONCLUDES WITH NORMAN BORLAUG'S 
FAMOUS QUIP: "WE CAN'T TURN BACK THE HANDS OF TIME AND ONLY 
USE TECHNOLOGIES APPROPRIATE FOR A MUCH LESS POPULATED 
WORLD."  WE ARE ACTIVELY WORKING WITH THE ACADEMY TO MOVE 
THEIR ASSESSMENT BEYOND THIS STUDY BY DEVELOPING 
OPPORTUNITIES TO EXPOSE ITS STAFF AND MANAGEMENT TO VISITING 
BIOTECH SCIENTISTS AND BIO-ETHICISTS.  WE WILL WORK WITH ITS 
SISTER ACADEMY - THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF THE SCIENCES - TO 
SUPPORT A PROPOSED "STUDY WEEK" ON BIOTECHNOLOGY BY 
COORDINATING THE PARTICIPATION OF RESPECTED US SCIENTISTS. 
 
 ¶4. (U) IN CONNECTION WITH OUR PUSH TO HAVE THE HOLY SEE 
ACKNOWLEDGE THE STRONG MORAL ARGUMENT THAT U.S. FOOD 
ASSISTANCE IS SAFE AND SHOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO HUNGRY 
PEOPLE, THE AMBASSADOR TOOK ADVANTAGE OF AN OCTOBER 4 
CONFERENCE ON THE ETHICS OF GMO TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE 
PHILIPPINES, ORGANIZED ON THE MARGINS OF THE CANONIZATION OF 
JOSE MARIA ESCRIVA, FOUNDER OF THE OPUS DEI PRELATURE.  THE 
AUDIENCE, CONSISTING OF PHILIPPINE BISHOPS AND SELECTED 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        VATICA  04909  01 OF 02  081513Z 
BUSINESSMEN, WAS TREATED TO A GOOD PROGRAM OF EXPERTS IN 
BIOETHICS AND BIOENGINEERING FROM VARIOUS PONTIFICAL 
ACADEMIES IN SUPPORT OF GMO TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE 
PHILIPPINES.  THE AUDIENCE WAS RECEPTIVE TO AMBASSADOR'S 
STRONG ARGUMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE MORALITY OF PROVIDING SAFE 
U.S. FOOD ASSISTANCE TO THE HUNGRY IN SOUTHERN AFRICA.  THE 
ONLY SOUR NOTE WAS WHEN A VATICAN DESK OFFICER REPEATEDLY 
INSISTED THAT THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY MEMBERS OF THE 
PONTIFICAL ACADEMIES WERE NOT THOSE OF THE VATICAN ITSELF 
AND ASSERTED (FALSELY - SEE BELOW) THAT THE VATICAN HAS NO 
POSITION ON BIOTECH FOODS.  SUBSEQUENT TO THE PRESENTATION, 
A GROUP OF PHILIPPINE BISHOPS TOLD THE AMBASSADOR THEY FULLY 
SUPPORTED HIS ARGUMENTS, AND BELIEVED THE PHILIPPINES SHOULD 
MOVE AHEAD MORE AGGRESSIVELY TO DEVELOP APPROPRIATE BIOTECH 
FOODS. 
 
----------------------- 
TEXT OF TAURAN'S LETTER 
----------------------- 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ6103 
 
PAGE 01        VATICA  04909  02 OF 02  081513Z 
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                  ------------------F38DD7  081513Z /38 
O 081436Z OCT 02 
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 
INFO AMEMBASSY MANILA 
AMEMBASSY LUSAKA 
AMEMBASSY MAPUTO 
AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 
AMEMBASSY HARARE 
AMEMBASSY LILONGWE 
AMEMBASSY LUANDA 
 
UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 VATICAN 004909 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/WE (MENNUTI), EB/TPP (CEKUTA), AND AF/S 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL ECON EAID EAGR SENV SOCI ZA RP ECON EAID EAGR SENV SOCI ZA RP VT VTPREL
SUBJECT: HOLY SEE: FM TAURAN REPLY TO SECRETARY'S LETTER ON 
BIOTECH FOOD SAFETY AND SOUTHERN AFRICAN FOOD CRISIS 
 
¶4.  (SBU) BEGIN TEXT: 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 02        VATICA  04909  02 OF 02  081513Z 
 
FROM THE VATICAN, OCTOBER 2, 2002 
 
YOUR EXCELLENCY, 
 
     I AM PLEASED TO ACKNOWLEDGE RECEIPT OF YOUR LETTER 
CONCERNING BIOTECH FOODS THAT THE UNITED STATES EMBASSY TO 
THE HOLY SEE FORWARDED TO ME ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2002. 
 
     THE HOLY SEE IS AWARE OF THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN 
SOUTHERN AFRICA AND APPRECIATES THE ROLE OF THE UNITED 
STATES IN OFFERING ASSISTANCE, INCLUDING BIOTECH FOODS, IN 
ORDER TO ALLEVIATE FURTHER HUNGER AND STARVATION IN THE 
REGION. 
 
     THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE HAS EXAMINED THE 
QUESTION OF BIOTECH FOODS AND IN 1998 PUBLISHED THE WRITINGS 
OF A STUDY GROUP IN A BOOK IN ITALIAN ENTITLED 
"BIOTECNOLOGIE ANIMALI E VEGETALI.  NUOVE FRONTIERE E NUOVE 
RESPONSIBILIT." 
 
     WHILE THE HOLY SEE IS NOT IN A POSITION TO MAKE ANY 
TYPE OF EVALUATION ON SINGLE PRODUCTS OR WHETHER SINGLE 
COUNTRIES SHOULD OR SHOULD NOT USE SUCH FOODS, IT DOES 
NONETHELESS OFFER THESE CONSIDERATIONS ON THE MATTER: 
 
A)   THERE IS NOT AN ABSOLUTE REJECTION OF BIOTECH FOODS. 
THEY CAN BE JUSTIFIED INASMUCH AS THEY CAN EXIST FOR THE 
GOOD OF THE HUMAN PERSON.  GOD HAS DESTINED ANIMALS AND 
VEGETABLES FOR THE GOOD OF THE HUMAN PERSON AND HAS PLACED 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        VATICA  04909  02 OF 02  081513Z 
THEM UNDER HIS OR HER CARE. 
 
B)   IN THE NAME OF THE GOOD OF EVERY HUMAN PERSON, IT IS 
MORALLY REQUIRED THAT ALL MEASURE BE TAKEN TO ENSURE THAT 
THERE ARE NO RISKS TO THE HEALTH OF HUMAN BEINGS.  HERE THE 
PRINCIPLE OF PRECAUTION IS FOLLOWED, WHICH DOES NOT INCLUDE 
AN ABSOLUTE REJECTION, BUT RATHER A RIGOROUS AND 
PROPORTIONED CAUTION ANALOGOUS TO THAT USED FOR 
PHARMACEUTICAL GOODS. 
 
C)   IT IS NECESSARY THAT BIOTECH FOODS, ONCE THEY ARE 
AVAILABLE FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION, BE IDENTIFIED AS SUCH WITH 
AN APPROPRIATE LABEL, EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT DANGEROUS.  THIS 
PROCEDURE WOULD BE IN LINE WITH THE RIGHT OF THE CONSUMER TO 
APPROPRIATE INFORMATION. 
 
D)   SUCH FOODS SHOULD ALSO BE AVAILABLE TO POPULATIONS IN 
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, SUBJECT TO PREVIOUS VERIFICATIONS OF 
THE ETHICAL CONDITIONS AND IN LINE WITH THE PRINCIPLES OF 
JUSTICE AND SOLIDARITY WITH REFERENCE TO COMMERCIAL AND 
ECONOMIC QUESTIONS. 
 
I AVAIL MYSELF OF THE OCCASION TO EXTEND TO YOUR EXCELLENCY 
THE ASSURANCES OF MY HIGHEST CONSIDERATION. 
 
JEAN-LOUIS TAURAN 
 
END TEXT. 
NICHOLSON 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
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 2002VATICA04909 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED