WikiLeaks released a batch of US diplomatic cables recently and, if you follow the ongoing saga of the GMO industry's efforts to force their seeds on nations, it seems to confirm their bullish tactics and the influence this special interest has over government offices. Many European nations have been reluctant to approve GMOs without sufficient testing to prove their safety, employing a "precautionary principle" that suggests any new goods should be proven safe first, rather than pulled from the market after it has hurt people. In the face of that, it appears that in 2007 US Ambassador to France, Craig Roberts Stapleton, outlined in a memo how the US should put the hurt on France and the rest of the European Union if they continued to block biotech seeds.
The entire cable can be seen here. As a designer, I have to say the government needs a typographical makeover. Sheesh.
But the words are uglier than the typography.
The official summary states:
Summary: Mission Paris recommends that that the USG reinforce
our negotiating position with the EU on agricultural biotechnology by
publishing a retaliation list when the extend "Reasonable Time
Period" expires. In our view, Europe is moving backwards not
forwards on this issue with France playing a leading role, along with
Austria, Italy and even the Commission. In France, the "Grenelle"
environment process is being implemented to circumvent science-based decisions in favor of an assessment of the "common interest."
Combined with the precautionary principle, this is a precedent with
implications far beyond MON-810 BT corn cultivation. 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. End Summary.
This is nasty business. I hesitate to say it's nasty politics because the Ambassador is behaving more like a special interest lobbyist in a foreign land than as a statesman. In fact, most Americans want GMOs labeled here in our country and say they would avoid them if they were labeled. So he's not doing the work of the American people. And he's engaged in a kind of behavior that I doubt he would engage in if he knew it would occur in a public forum.
It's sad to see proof that the special interest has so ingrained themselves in foreign policy, but it's good to see that the potential for Americans to get a transparent look at the shenanigans their government is up to is ever-increasing.
By Alex Bogusky