Viewing cable 09PRAGUE39
Title: BIOTECHNOLOGY OUTREACH FUNDING REQUEST.

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09PRAGUE392009-01-20 15:57:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Prague
VZCZCXRO0795
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHPG #0039/01 0201557
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 201557Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1020
INFO RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 3320
RUEHVL/AMEMBASSY VILNIUS 0412
RUEHSL/AMEMBASSY BRATISLAVA 2955
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRAGUE 000039 
 
STATE FOR EEB/TPP/MTAA/ABT MSZYMANSKI, JBOBO 
USDA FAS FOR OCRA/SNENON, BBAYSINGER, OSTA/MCHESLEY, EJONES 
BRUSSELS FOR AG MINISTER COUNSELOR, AGATT LEISHMAN, 
EU MEMBER STATES FOR AGR, PAS AND ECON 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958:  N/A 
TAGS: EAGR ECON ETRD EZ PL LO LH
SUBJECT: BIOTECHNOLOGY OUTREACH FUNDING REQUEST. 
 
REFS:  A) 2008 STATE 129940 
       B) Bratislava 009 
   C) 2008 Warsaw 1114 
 
¶1.  This is a joint cable from missions in Prague, Warsaw, Vilnius, 
and Bratislava requesting Agricultural Biotechnology Outreach Funds 
announced ref A.  The joint mission proposal intends to develop a 
biotechnology outreach program using the Czech Republic as a hub for 
the central Europe and Baltic region. 
 
¶2.  The Czech Republic belongs to a limited number of countries in 
Europe with a pragmatic and scientific based approach to 
agricultural biotechnology.  The Czech government, including its 
Ministry of Environment, works hard to provide objective, factually 
based information to its consumers.  This open scientific approach 
makes the Czech Republic an attractive potential investment by 
biotechnology companies for vaccine and agricultural development. 
This year after the French government's ban on growing GM crops, the 
Czech Republic became the second largest grower of Bt corn in the 
EU.  If other biotech varieties were EU approved they would be 
planted in the Czech Republic.  The Czechs do not plan to focus on 
biotechnology during their EU presidency, and will not oppose other 
member states' bans on biotech.  Its Agricultural Ministry and 
scientists, however, are open to regional cooperation.  At present, 
the Czech Republic leads the EU Presidency until June 30, 2009. 
 
¶3.  As reported ref B, since Slovakia introduced a co-existence law 
in 2007, farmers have steadily increased the planting of genetically 
modified corn, up now to 2000 hectares.  There is reason for 
optimism.  Ref C, reports that in Poland, a pro biotech coalition is 
active. The nation is experiencing a disastrous outbreak of the 
European Corn Borer, which destroys $400 million worth of the Polish 
corn crop annually, losses that could easily be prevented by 
planting Mon 810 Bt corn, which is commercially available in the EU. 
 Polish producers have planted 3,000 hectares of GM corn.  A draft 
cultivation law is in play and has been sent to the EU Commission 
for review to see if it complies with EU regulations.  In Lithuania, 
recent Embassy work has generated interest in agricultural 
biotechnology.  Rapeseed growers and the Agriculture Ministry have 
made requests for visiting speakers, printed materials, and travel 
to the United States.  Lithuania does not grow GM crops yet, but if 
there was a rapeseed GM variety available in the EU they might. 
This government's viewpoint has shifted towards more acceptance of 
the technology. 
 
¶4.  Posts can identify many obstacles to overcome with the 
acceptance of agricultural biotechnology.  The activities proposed 
for funding address several.  First, the press and consumers have 
yet to hear about benefits accruing to the public at large.  One 
new, relevant benefit is the development of crops resistant to the 
effects of climate change.  In Africa there are now field trials of 
drought resistant corn crops that in just a few more years will be 
widely available.  Without GM corn, African farmers will be unable 
to cultivate this crop due changes in climate. Discussing how the 
technology can be useful in dealing with the consequences of climate 
change and to combat hunger will be a powerful message for 
Europeans.  Second, each of the countries in Central and Eastern 
Europe has strong administrative controls that create bureaucratic 
hassles for producers.  Even the Czech Ministry of Environment was 
prevented by legislators from streamlining administrative 
procedures.  An expert in environmental control, traveling to the 
region, can continue to assure stakeholders on risk assessment 
principles and try to influence regulators for better management of 
the technology in open release. 
 
¶5.  Project 1:  Bring experts from the United States to Prague and 
the region.  This proposal funds travel to the region of U.S. 
scientists with expertise in the environmental control of biotech 
crops.  This project addresses the fundamental concern of local 
politicians to retain their nation's cultural identity as a source 
for high-quality foods.  Funds will be used for one team of three to 
visit the Czech Republic.  The team will be joined by one African 
scientist, from Malawi, who can be funded separately, and report on 
field trials for drought resistant GM corn.  Separate funds are 
available from a former USDA food aid local currency account 
available in Poland for African traveler.  Two major events are 
planned for the Czech Republic, a conference in Prague and then 
local travel to Brno for press at the Igor Mendel Museum. 
Afterwards, U.S. experts will continue to Lithuania and Slovakia for 
further presentations and press.  African representative will 
continue to Poland, as required to use USDA funds.  Experts will 
make presentations on appropriate risk management for coexistence of 
 
PRAGUE 00000039  002 OF 002 
 
 
crops to stakeholders in the industry and farm lobbies.  Posts 
intend to use the IIB list to identify U.S. candidates.  Request: 
$17,000. (USDA will jointly fund $5,000 for African TDY) 
 
¶6.  Project 2:  Translating summaries of scientific articles from 
Czech into Polish, Lithuanian, and Slovakian languages, for use by 
local press and embassy contacts.  This activity connects scientists 
from the Czech Republic with mainstream media and embassies' 
contacts regionally, helping to build networks among regional 
scholars.  New science and field trials emerge from Czech 
researchers often and this activity will accelerate the 
dissemination of that information regionally.  Posts note that in 
past years, scientific information such as new environmental studies 
has been transferred to academics only in English.  Our mission will 
partner with academic institutions to pay for translation and use 
scientific and embassy outreach to distribute them in the region. 
This activity will strengthen the strong scientific partnership 
between academia and the Embassy.  Request: $11,000. 
 
¶7.  Embassy Warsaw understands the reporting requirements as 
outlined in ref A.  The responsible officer for the program is Eric 
Wenberg, Agricultural Counselor, resident in Warsaw 
(eric.wenberg@fas.usda.gov) supported in Prague by FAS LES 
Specialist Jana Mikulasova (jana.mikulasova@fas.usda.gov).  Also 
assisting in Prague will be Economic Officer, Margaret Bula-Duane 
(Bula-DuaneM@state.gov), in Vilnius, Economic Officer Daniel Gage 
(gagedl@state.gov), and in Bratislava, Economic Officer, Michael 
Tran (tranmj@state.gov).  Missions intend to cooperate closely and 
include PAS assistance.  Thank you for your consideration. 
 
Thompson-Jones