169182 9/10/2008 11:38 08BUCHAREST717 Embassy Bucharest UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 08BUCHAREST687|08BUCHAREST689 VZCZCXRO9434 PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG DE RUEHBM #0717/01 2541138 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 101138Z SEP 08 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHSF/AMEMBASSY SOFIA PRIORITY 4998 RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8690 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY RHMCSUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 000717
STATE FOR EUR/CE, OES, AND H H PLEASE PASS TO SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS, KMEYERS SOFIA FOR FAS
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: EAGR, ETRD, ENRG, ECON, PGOV, PREL, TBIO, RO SUBJECT: ROMANIA: SEN. LUGAR PRESSES MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT ON BIOTECHNOLOGY, CLIMATE CHANGE
REF: A. A) BUCHAREST 687 B. B) BUCHAREST 689
1. (SBU) Summary. Highlighting his experience as a farmer, visiting Senator Richard Lugar on August 28 encouraged Minister of Environment Attila Korodi to permit the use of more advanced agricultural methods in Romania, including biotechnology. Korodi indicated a willingness to reevaluate his positions as technology improves, but said he remains focused on traceability issues and the potential harm that GMO contamination could do to Romania's organic food industry. On energy, both agreed on the importance of increasing energy efficiency and finding new sources of supply, but differed over the best approach for combating climate change. End Summary.
2. (SBU) Continuing on some of the themes that he had explored in an earlier meeting with Foreign Minister Lazar Comanescu (ref B), Lugar raised the importance of reducing trade barriers and intensely utilizing technology, such as GMO seeds, in order to combat hunger, especially in African countries experiencing food shortages. While admitting that high prices were good for farmers like himself, Lugar encouraged Korodi to focus on the importance of freeing farmers to grow and export whatever is needed to feed an increasingly hungry world. In acknowledging the overall importance of this goal, Korodi countered that Romania is hampered by EU agricultural policies, which have a direct effect on Romania's ability to achieve the highest possible agricultural output. Korodi also pointed to Romania's rich biodiversity and the country's role as one of the biggest EU producers of organic food, an industry that he feels would be imperiled by more intensive GMO use. Turning to the cultivation of Monsanto's MON 810 corn, Korodi said he supported the efforts of the national Biosafety Commission (BSC), which has been tasked with evaluating the safety of MON 810 for use in Romania. (Comment: One of the commissioners recently briefed Emboff on the BSC's deliberations, and said that the consensus decision will likely be that MON 810 is safe to plant. It is unclear whether Korodi was aware of this at the time of his meeting with Senator Lugar. End Comment.) Korodi did admit, however, that improving technology and enhanced traceability methods might make GMO cultivation less risky from an environmental standpoint.
3. (SBU) Turning to energy and the environment, both Lugar and Korodi agreed on the overall importance of increasing energy efficiency and seeking new energy supplies. Korodi highlighted Romania's role as a large renewable energy producer with established hydroelectric facilities, and also remarked on the potential for the use of wind power, biofuels, and biomass. Increasing the penetration of these technologies will allow Romania to reduce dependence on increasingly expensive imported energy sources. Lugar agreed with this goal, but also encouraged Romania to think broadly and engage with the U.S. directly on issues such as climate change, arguing that it is unfair to ask American consumers in Indiana (where coal-fired plants account for 94 percent of electricity generation) to shut their plants while China builds three new coal plants per week. Pointing out that new technology was delivering climate change solutions, Lugar remarked that Indiana farmers were using no-till agricultural methods, planting trees, and buying more fuel-efficient vehicles, all of which should be considered as part of a global solution. Korodi acknowledged Lugar's argument, but also said that Romania would closely adhere to EU positions on climate change.
4. (SBU) Comment. Post's relationship with the Ministry of Environment under Korodi has occasionally been difficult, due in part to perceptions at the Ministry that Romania, as an EU member, and the U.S. have little in common on issues such as agricultural biotechnology and climate change. However, Lugar's visit did highlight some possible opportunities, such as in promotion of renewable energy, for increased cooperation. Perhaps expecting a more contentious meeting, Korodi seemed disarmed by Lugar's ready acknowledgement of the importance of environmental stewardship and the role that farmers can play in this process. Korodi appeared open to American ideas, such as the expanded use of wind energy and farmland as part of carbon capture schemes, and American technology, such as improvements in the efficiency of automobiles and farm equipment, as tools in addressing
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climate change. Furthermore, Korodi did acknowledge that improving technologies could possibly sway him on the merits of GMO cultivation, which Romania is under intense pressure from some EU quarters to restrict or ban outright. Post will work to expand on these openings with the Ministry in the coming months. End Comment. TAUBMAN