went on to call the bill “a poke in the eye of the US, which is the leading developer and producer of agricul-tural biotech products.” Green Party member GeorgePerdikis responded, “This is blackmail. It speaks of harming bilateral relations. It is very serious.”
Al-though the European Commission rejected Cyprus’ pro-posal regarding supermarket shelves,
Cypriots remainstrongly opposed to GMOs.Genetically modified foods and crops are also unwel-come in Greece, raising concerns within the US Em- bassy in Athens. According to Theodore Koliopanos, alegislator and former deputy environment minister, allpolitical parties in the country are against GMOs, eventhough they have difficulty agreeing on every other is-sue. Koliopanos said that when Greece banned GMOs in2005, biotech corporations reacted strongly. “The first visit any new minister in Greece gets is from the US am- bassador saying, ‘You need to have GMOs’,” Koliopanossaid. “The pressure is incredible.”
In Bulgaria, the US Embassy is also keeping a watch-ful eye on issues surrounding biotechnology. In March2004 embassy representatives attended a roundtableorganised by the GMO-Free Bulgaria Coalition eventhough they were not invited. A year earlier US Ambas-sador James Pardew donated US$10,000 to the Agro-BioInstitute in Bulgaria and emphasised the US govern-ment’s support for developing genetic engineering inthe country.
In Romania, the biotech lobby can count on the supportof US Ambassador Nicholas Taubman, who has saidEU regulations on GMOs are based on deception andprevent Romanians from profiting from biotechnology.
At an embassy event in September 2007, Taubmanintroduced two American GMO promoters who tourthe world preaching the virtues of GMOs: University of California biotechnology Professor Martina Newell-McGloughlin and farmer Curt Raasch. “The EuropeanUnion is attached to 19
-century technologies and it will only lose because of that,” Newell-McGloughlinsaid at the event. “In case the EU develops a rationalregulation frame[work], it would be helpful for a fasterdevelopment of the technology worldwide.”
In Slovenia, American diplomats have adopted moresubtle approach. In 2007, the Institute of SustainableDevelopment organised a campaign against GMOs inconnection with Earth Day. The goal was to stimulatepublic discussion, raise public awareness and influencepoliticians to take a stance against GMOs. The campaignresulted in over 40 Slovenian communities declaringthemselves to be GMO-free in spring and summer 2007.The success of this endeavor was noticed by the USEmbassy in Ljubljana, which responded by distributinga huge number of leaflets with Disney-style illustrationson the benefits of biotechnology in agriculture.
Focusing on the positives of biotechnology is part of thecampaign being led by the US Embassy in the CzechRepublic, which is more receptive to GM crops thanany other former Soviet bloc country. This has earnedpraise from US diplomats, who are making sure thecountry’s openness toward biotechnology is adequately appreciated. On 12 September 2007, officials from theUS State Department, the US Embassy in Prague andUS Department of Agriculture offices in Vienna andPrague put on a conference entitled “Biotechnology inModern Agriculture, Food, and Industry.” The event was co-sponsored by the Czech Ministry of Agriculture.The conference attracted more than 70 participantsfrom five EU countries, including representatives fromthe food production and retail industries, governmentofficials, academics and journalists.The conference was followed by a dinner for policy-makers hosted by US Ambassador Richard Graber. At the dinner, Czech Agriculture Minister Petr Gan-dalovic talked about difficulties his country is facingin expanding biotechnology, but ensured Americansin attendance that the country will continue its efforts.US Ambassador Richard W. Graber congratulated theCzechs on their leadership in the field.
In neighbouring Poland, the US Embassy is putting apositive spin on biotechnology by inviting farmers fromabroad who grow GM crops. In May 2008 the embassy in Warsaw hosted Spanish farmer Jose Luis Romeo, who specialises in Monsanto-patented MON 810 corn.
The fact that the US Embassy rather than the SpanishEmbassy would take an interest in Romeo’s farming ex-perience may be puzzling, but this was not questioned