Oct 182014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2002/10/02VATICAN4909.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
02VATICAN4909
2002-10-08 14:36
2011-08-30 01:44
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

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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,
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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
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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
ACTION EUR-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AGRE-00 AID-00 CEA-01 CIAE-00
COME-00 CTME-00 USNW-00 DINT-00 DODE-00 DOEE-00 ITCE-00
DOTE-00 SRPP-00 DS-00 EAP-00 EB-00 ED-01 EXME-00
E-00 FAAE-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00 FRB-00 HHS-01
H-01 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 ITC-01 LAB-01 L-00
VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 NSCE-00 NSF-01 OES-01 OIC-02
OMB-01 OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00
SCT-00 SP-00 SSO-00 STR-00 TEST-00 TRSE-00 USIE-00
EPAE-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-02 G-00 NFAT-00
SAS-00 /015W
——————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
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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

PAGE 04 VATICA 04909 02 OF 02 081513Z

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2002VATICA04909 – Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

   

 

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