Image: Simone Ramella via flickr
We've already heard, thanks to Wikileaks, that U.S. officials under the Bush administration advised retaliation against Europe for standing against genetically modified crops. But the leaks uncover pressure coming from more than just the then-U.S. ambassador to France. It's worth first mentioning another quote from that ambassador about the retaliation against Europe, from the leaked cable: "The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory. Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests."
But the U.S. embassy in the Vatican is also found to have exerted pressure on the pope's advisers on the same issue.
The US state department special adviser on biotechnology as well as government biotech advisers based in Kenya lobbied Vatican insiders to persuade the pope to declare his backing. "... met with [US monsignor] Fr Michael Osborn of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, offering a chance to push the Vatican on biotech issues...
"Opportunities exist to press the issue with the Vatican, and in turn to influence a wide segment of the population in Europe and the developing world," says another [cable].
Other cables reveal direct connections between U.S. diplomats and biotech companies like Monsanto.
More from the Guardian:
"In response to recent urgent requests by [Spanish rural affairs ministry] state secretary Josep Puxeu and Monsanto, post requests renewed US government support of Spain's science-based agricultural biotechnology position through high-level US government intervention."
It also emerges that Spain and the US have worked closely together to persuade the EU not to strengthen biotechnology laws. In one cable, the embassy in Madrid writes: "If Spain falls, the rest of Europe will follow."
This shouldn't be a huge surprise, but the conflicts of interest that government officials manage to get away with are still shameful and newsworthy.
And as Mat succinctly pointed out: if nothing else, this is a "reminder that GM crops are far far more about big business and big profits for their developers than they are about increasing crop yields, feeding more people either in rich or poor nations, or developing climate-resistant agriculture."
More on GMO food
Bush Admin Officials Advised Retaliation Against Europe For Rejecting GM Crops: Wikileaks
A Guide to Avoiding Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) at the Grocery Store
5 of the Newest and Craziest Genetically Modified Foods (3 Are Animals)