05BUCHAREST133 / 2005-01-18 12:58:00
Embassy Bucharest
                UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BUCHAREST 000133 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NCE/BILL SILKWORTH, EB/DMALAC, OES/HLEE 
USDA PASS FAS/OA/BSIMMONS 
STATE PASS TO USAID/JLEWIS, SHELLER, MWINTER 
SOFIA FOR AGRICULTURAL ATTACHE 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SENV, EAGR, ETRD, ECON, SENV, TBIO, RO 
SUBJECT: BIOTECHNOLOGY OUTREACH PROJECT FOR ROMANIA 
 
REF: STATE 244670 
 
THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PROTECT 
ACCORDINGLY 
 
1.  SUMMARY: (SBU) Unique in the region, Romania which is 
expected to join the European Union (EU) in 2007, is a 
biotech pioneer, promoting and cultivating transgenic 
soybeans currently not approved for commercial planting in 
the EU.  The Mission's objective is to help Romania enter 
the EU with its viable biotech industry firmly secured, as 
well as with an educated populace that understands the 
merits of biotechnology.  By increasing efforts in Romania 
now, the US will have a strong European ally with common 
interests and shared beliefs to combat the EU's anti-GMO 
position in the years ahead.  State Department funding for 
this initiative is now critical as Romania counts down to EU 
membership, while pressure from anti-GMO groups builds. 
With this in mind, Post is proposing a broad public 
education campaign, in order to disseminate scientifically 
sound information about modern biotechnology through 
workshops and forums.  END SUMMARY. 
 
BACKGROUND 
----------- 
2.  (U) The Mission currently has a well-defined 
biotechnology program funded by USAID with technical 
assistance from FAS.  The Embassy would like to complement 
its current program, which focuses only on high-level 
biotech policymakers, by conducting a broad public 
educational outreach campaign to reach the average consumer. 
Despite repeated attempts by a number of anti-biotech 
organizations to influence public opinion through 
sensational newspaper headlines, to date consumers' 
rejection of bioengineered food is limited.  This presents 
an opportunity for the US Mission to create a comprehensive 
public outreach plan focused on the benefits of agricultural 
biotechnology, before opinions are formed.  The proposed 
program builds on existing contacts, local expertise on 
USAID and FAS matching funds. 
 
3.  (U) The goal of the Embassy's public diplomacy 
initiative is to spur debate and discussion about 
biotechnology, create positive public opinion, and to 
provide broader availability of scientific information about 
agricultural biotechnology to both the media and everyday 
consumers.  Part of the educational campaign will target key 
opinion leaders in the following fields:  media, education, 
the environment, the food industry, among others.  They will 
learn about the scientific, research and regulatory 
processes involved in agricultural biotechnology as well as 
the benefits for Romania.  Gaining key opinion leaders' 
support will help increase the public's awareness and trust 
in foods derived from GMO products.  The proposed program 
has been discussed with and received the backing of local 
counterparts who have created an informal consortium to 
steer the program's activities and content.  This Consortium 
includes: the National Biosafety Commission, food research 
institutes, the local Association for Consumer Protection, 
environmental NGOs, and the Science and Education Department 
of the Romanian National Broadcasting Corporation (who 
offered air-time as an in-kind contribution). 
 
PROJECT PLAN 
------------- 
4. (U) The proposed consumer-oriented public outreach 
campaign will be conducted within a nine-month timeframe and 
will conclude before end of FY05 via the following set of 
activities: 
 
A. Biotech Seminars:  Ten focus group discussions with media 
participation in five large urban areas of Romania, where 
the main agricultural universities are located - Bucharest, 
Timisoara, Iasi, Cluj and Craiova.  To open and maintain 
dialogue among relevant groups, two sets of seminars will be 
held in each location.  To effectively communicate positive 
messages on biotechnology to the public, we will use formal 
presentations by identified local opinion leaders. 
International speakers and scientists will also be utilized. 
Venues will be provided by the Project.  Participants will 
be recruited among university professors with relevant 
expertise, local industry representatives, and local media 
representatives, including television and radio commentators 
and newspaper reporters. 
 
B. Educational Materials:  To complement the workshops and 
media events, English language publications on the benefits 
of biotechnology will be made available for translation into 
Romanian, to reach mass audiences with local language 
materials. 
 
C. Web Site:  A stand-alone web page for the project will be 
designed for information dissemination, and to serve as a 
clearinghouse for various other GMO-related websites to 
ensure a broad outreach.  The content of the webpage will be 
cleared by the Consortium and key opinion leaders.  Funds 
will be made available for the web designer.  After the 
project's termination, funding for maintaining and updating 
the webpage will be provided by relevant USAID-projects, 
FAS, or by interested local partners such as local industry 
or the Biotech Farmers Association.  Materials that will be 
circulated at workshops will be posted on Project's webpage 
prior to organizing the event. 
 
D. Surveys:  The Steering Commission will contract a survey 
on consumers' attitudes on biotech food both immediately 
before and after the project to measure the effectiveness of 
the diplomacy initiatives and outreach campaign.  The 
information obtained from the surveys will be useful for 
continued efforts funded by FAS and USAID, and will serve as 
a barometer on the effectiveness of influencing consumer 
attitudes on GMO issues in other countries. 
 
E.  Local Organization Outreach:  Funding will be provided 
to host country organizations interested in promoting and 
disseminating positive information on agricultural 
biotechnology such as the Biotech Farmers Association. 
These organizations will develop, publish and disseminate, 
on behalf of their organization, materials that promote GMO 
products and teach about their usefulness and safety. 
Materials printed by local organizations may carry more 
credibility and have a greater impact on consumer opinions 
than materials produced and disseminated by US 
organizations. 
 
5. (U) EXPECTED RESULTS:  This project expects to influence 
the opinion of the average Romanian consumer towards 
biotechnology by focusing on price, health and other social 
benefits. This initiative will educate the media about 
biotechnology and expose professors, consumers and other 
participants to arguments explaining that biotech products 
are as safe as their conventional alternatives.   By the end 
of the outreach campaign, the Mission expects that at least 
40 press articles, as well as additional television and 
radio spots will be disseminated throughout Romanian 
society.  It is expected that at least 70 percent of the 
country's population will be exposed to positive GMO 
messages as a result of this campaign.  Additionally, local 
partners will sustain the biotechnology website, the Biotech 
Farmers' Association will have gained greater recognition 
and credibility, and we believe the Media will continue to 
print positive updates on GMO issues as opposed to negative 
anti-GMO propaganda. 
 
REQUESTED FUNDING 
------------------ 
6. (U) A part-time person will be hired to organize 
logistics and participation in ten events.  Partial cost 
estimations for this activity are as follows: 
 
- fee for subcontractor: $1000/event * 10 = $10,000; 
- transportation, lodging, M&IE for organizers during 
planning/organizing stages: $3,360 
- rental rooms and conference packages : $500/day * 5 * 2 = 
$5,000; 
- funding lodging M&IE for three local biotech speakers: 
$200 * 20 days = $4,000 
- local transportation: $800 * 3 persons = $2,400. 
- reproduction costs for materials to be distributed to 
participants: $5 * 2 events * 5 locations * 40 participants 
= $2,000 
- communication costs: $2,000 
- support to local GMO promoters (bio-safety commission, 
Farmers' Association) to produce and disseminate pro-GMO 
publications: $10,000 
- translation and reproduction of materials into Romanian 
language:  $8,000. 
- webpage design and maintenance: $4,000 
- consumer attitude survey: $10,000 
- miscellaneous and unexpected costs: $1,000; 
-Total budget: $59,960 
 
7.   (U) U.S. Embassy Bucharest is contributing matching 
funds from USAID and FAS to cover following expenses: 
- international airfare for three (3) International 
Speakers/Scientists:  $1200 * 3 = $3,600 
- M&IE and lodging $228 * 30 days = $6,840 
- funding local travel for three international biotech 
speakers: $800 * 30 days = $2,400 
- honoraria for International Speakers/Scientists $3,000 * 3 
= $9,000 
- FAS and USAID employee contributions to coordinating 
workshops, developing materials, recruiting speakers, 
translation, and overall oversight of project: $20,000 
-Total Local Embassy Contribution: $41,840 
 
8.   (U) Contributions from local Romanian Organizations 
include the above-mentioned members of the steering 
committee who will be responsible for the design of content 
of workshops, as well as the development and dissemination 
of published materials.  A radio station with nation-wide 
penetration has agreed to broadcast a series of weekly two- 
minute spots focusing on the project's message and events. 
 
9.  (SBU) Embassy Control Officer will be Erin Kotheimer 
(Economic Officer, ext. 451).  Please do not hesitate to 
contact her if you require additional information about this 
proposal.  Post believes that we have reached a critical 
juncture as Romania approaches EU membership.  A strong push 
for public education is now needed to build momentum as 
Romania seeks to position its biotechnology industry within 
the legal framework of the EU. 
 
DELARE 

            
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