Viewing cable 07VILNIUS828
Title: EU'S LACKLUSTER PROGRESS ON BIOTECH NOT WORRISOME

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07VILNIUS8282007-11-16 16:02:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXRO8500
RR RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHVL #0828/01 3201602
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 161602Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1784
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 3685
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS BE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000828 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/ERA:SGRAY;EEB/TPP/ABT/BTT:JBOBO; 
USDA/FAS:EJONES; 
PASS TO USTR FOR MCLARKSON 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/16/2017 
TAGS: EAGR ETRD LH
SUBJECT: EU'S LACKLUSTER PROGRESS ON BIOTECH NOT WORRISOME 
FOR LITHUANIA 
 
REF: SECSTATE 153542 
 
Classified By: CDA DLeader for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
¶1.  (C) Begin summary.  In separate meetings on November 13 
and 14 we met with Environment, Foreign Affairs, and 
Agriculture Ministry officials to deliver reftel demarche. 
Our GOL interlocutors support the introduction of biotech in 
some cases.  However, they all cited negative public opinion 
as preventing the launch of biotech in Lithuania.  In 
addition, all felt that any sanctions that might result from 
EU reluctance to introduce biotech crops would not directly 
impact Lithuania.  End summary. 
 
Attitudes Toward Biotech 
------------------------ 
 
¶2.  (C) Darius Lygis, the head of the Genetically Modified 
Organisms Division within the Ministry of Environment, 
claimed that from a scientific standpoint there is support 
for the introduction of biotech in Lithuania, and cited 
Lithuania's pharmaceutical biotech companies, Sicor and 
Fermentas, as proof of Lithuanian prowess and interest in the 
biotech domain.  However, Lygis said it is politically 
impossible to introduce biotech crops in Lithuania.  He laid 
the blame for the situation on Lithuanian Greens, who are not 
numerous but effectively use the media to create public 
support for their arguments.  (Note:  We are highly skeptical 
about Lygis's assessment of the Greens' effectiveness.  They 
have no political party, no elected officials, and claim a 
membership of "some 500 members" throughout Lithuania.) 
 
¶3.  (C) Albinas Zananavicius, Director of the MFA's Foreign 
Trade Policy Office (Assistant Secretary-equivalent), said 
that the MFA's position is that the GOL always has and should 
respect WTO rules.  However, he acknowledged that the 
Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Environment make 
decisions regarding biotech without input from his office. 
Zananavicius was unfamiliar with the recent announcement by 
French President Sarkozy and the Italian proposal calling for 
a moratorium on biotech product authorizations (reftel). 
 
¶4.  (C) Laimonas Ciakas, Director of the Ministry of 
Agriculture's EU Affairs and International Relations 
Department, told us that the GOL position is still very 
cautious regarding biotech.  Ciakas reiterated points he has 
made in previous meetings with us regarding biotech:  the GOL 
wants to see data on the predicted effects of multiple 
generations consuming these products, buffer zones would be 
difficult to establish in Lithuania's small farm environment, 
and the citizens of Lithuania are against such products.  He 
emphasized, though, that products that contain biotech are 
already in Lithuanian markets and if the EU ruled a product 
was approved Lithuania would have to comply. 
 
What if there are retaliatory actions? 
-------------------------------------- 
 
¶5.  (C) Lygis said the GOL is aware retaliatory actions are 
possible if the EU does not permit the marketing and planting 
of biotech crops.  He agreed this would be a negative 
development.  Lygis stated that if the EU were to pass a 
directive permitting the planting and marketing of biotech 
crops, the GOL would follow it without objection. 
Zananavicius echoed Lygis's comment that the GOL is aware of 
the possibility of sanctions.  However, he added as an 
"off-the-record" observation, that any country such as 
Lithuania, where 80 percent of the population would oppose 
such a decision from an international body, can withstand any 
sanctions. 
 
¶6.  (C) If the EU is sanctioned due to the events described 
in reftel, Lygis postulated that the GOL would have no 
reaction.  He argued that the sanctions would be at the EU 
level and not against the GOL.  Zananavicius's comments 
paralleled those of Lygis, as he said that sanctions usually 
target countries that are sources of problems, i.e., not 
Lithuania.  Ciakas also believed that sanctions would apply 
at the EU level and would be unlikely to affect Lithuania 
directly. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
¶7.  (C) We have heard the argument before that Lithuania 
cannot support cultivation and marketing of biotech crops 
 
VILNIUS 00000828  002 OF 002 
 
 
because of public opposition.  However we find the degree to 
which GOL officials can dissociate their Member State from 
the actions of the EU (and the penalties it may face) to be 
truly remarkable.  We will continue to remind the GOL that it 
has a vote in EU affairs equal to those of other Member 
States, and that it can influence Brussels if it chooses to. 
 
LEADER