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Viewing cable 09MADRID1013, SPAIN'S RESPONSE TO DEMARCHE ON BIOTECH VOTES AT OCTOBER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MADRID1013 2009-10-16 12:12 2010-12-19 12:12 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Madrid
VZCZCXRO1872
OO RUEHIK
DE RUEHMD #1013 2891204
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161204Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1340
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
UNCLAS MADRID 001013

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EEB/TPP/ABT AND EUR/ERA
STATE PASS USTR FOR D.WEINER
USDA FOR FAS/OFSO/YOUNG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR ECON ETRD TBIO EUN SP
SUBJECT: SPAIN'S RESPONSE TO DEMARCHE ON BIOTECH VOTES AT OCTOBER
19, 2009 MEETINGS

REF: STATE 106819

1. SUMMARY: Spain's Minister of Environment and Rural and Marine
Affairs (MARM) will vote in favor of proposals to approve three
biotech maize varieties for import at the October 19 Agriculture
Council Meeting, although GOS officials do not expect the proposals
to be approved. While a delegate to the Standing Committee
indicated that Spain's final decision on the MIR604 and Syngenta
Bt11 is still being debated within Spain's Inter-Ministerial
Council, a Ministry official assured AgCouns that Spain will also
vote favorably on the two biotech maize proposals at the October 19
Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health. END SUMMARY.

2. Econoff delivered reftel demarche October 15 to Alfredo Bonet,
Secretary General for Trade at the Ministry of Industry, Tourism,
and Trade. Bonet replied that his Ministry favored approval of the
biotech maize varieties and would advocate for this position in
Spain's Inter-Ministerial Council, but he was not in a position to
state what Spain's final position would be.

3. Separately, Agricultural Counselor and Agricultural Specialist
met October 15 with Eduardo Diez Patier, Chief of Staff to the
Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Water, to deliver reftel
demarche.

4. According to Diez Patier, both the Minister of Environment and
Rural and Marine Affairs, Elena Espinosa, and the Secretary of State
(Vice-Minister equivalent) for Rural Affairs and Water, Josef Puxeu,
will attend the October 19 meeting of the Agriculture Council.
Spain will vote in favor of all three biotech maize varieties for
import. However, he noted that they do not expect the vote to pass
and so the issue will be deferred to the Commission. The problem is
that the current Commission, which meets every Wednesday, expires on
October 31. The Commission will have two opportunities to vote on
the three biotech maize varieties before its term expires. If there
is no vote before November 1, then the issue will be deferred to the
new Commission. The Chief of Staff stated that this will be
problematic as it may take some time for newly elected EU
governments to select new Commission members. The interim
"temporary" Commission could take up the biotech maize issue - or it
could be deferred until later in the year when all positions are
permanently filled. This could potentially delay the vote until
January 2010 or later.

5. Mr. Diez Patier also confidently stated that Spain would vote in
favor of both MIR604 maize for import and the renewal of approval
for Syngenta Bt11 at the October 19 Standing Committee Meeting.
However, a follow-up call to Esther Esteban, Area Manager at the
General Directorate of Sustainable Development who coordinates
biotech policy issues in Spain, indicated a less certain position.
Ms. Esteban noted that Anabel de la Pena from the Spanish Agency for
Food Safety and Nutrition and Jesus Salas from MARM's Sub
Directorate for Animal Feed will attend the Standing Committee
Meeting for Spain. She stated that the Inter-Ministerial Council,
which will decide on Spain's vote, is still deliberating and will
meet on Friday afternoon to come to consensus on the two biotech
maize votes.

6. COMMENT: While the Inter-Ministerial Council appears to still
be debating Spain's position on the two biotech maize approvals at
the Standing Committee, the Chief of Staff clearly stated that the
Government of Spain would not deviate from its traditional position
of supporting new biotech approvals and renewals. The anti-GMO
factions within MARM's environmental departments are losing strength
and influence as Ministry officials at the highest levels continue
to push their pro-biotechnology position both at home and in
Brussels. END COMMENT.

CHACON