French book The World According to Monsanto (photo: David_Reverchon)

There are multiple indications in the large cache of US State Embassy cables WikiLeaks has been releasing (extended summary here) that the US State Department is willing to do just about anything to ensure the multinational agricultural biotech corporation, Monsanto, has its interests protected in countries around the world.

Cables show the State Department has been very active in defending Monsanto in France during the past decade. In one particular case, a French documentary, “The World According to Monsanto,” was released. A diplomat with the US embassy in Madrid immediately felt the need for “talking points” so it knew what to say in response to the content in the film.

The diplomatic cable summary sent on February 4, 2008 reads:

On March 11, French public TV channel ARTE broadcasted a film entitled “The World According to Monsanto,” by freelance journalist Marie-Monique Robin. A book by the same name was released soon thereafter. Given the wide publicity generated by this film (for sale on line on ARTE’s website at http://www.arte.tv/monsanto, which, to date, has received over 100,000 “hits”), it has generated much attention particularly by biotech stakeholders. The film and book not only demonize Monsanto,but also characterize U.S. Government actions as lacking ethical and scientific integrity. Allegations include questioning of the concept of substantial equivalence; the assertion that political rather than scientific decisions have been made to authorize biotech products in the United States; and, that a “revolving door” between Monsanto and the U.S. Government has influenced the U.S. biotech regulatory system. The book and film are to be translated into English and other languages. Country team requests that Washington agencies provide talking points for use with a range of interlocutors on an “if asked” basis. [emphasis added]

The “Country Team” is particularly disturbed by all the names dropped in the film of people who may have been working on behalf of Monsanto while in government, like John Ashcroft, Tommy Thompson, Ann Veneman, Donald Rumsfeld and Clarence Thomas. The “Team” expresses interest in responding to the film but is aware that if they respond to the film with criticism they will only draw attention to the documentary. Still, they think “there is a role for public diplomacy, mainly focusing on the rigor of the US regulatory system and the positive role ag biotech can play in meeting world food needs, particularly in the developing world.”

The idea that Monsanto’s biotech, particularlty it’s genetically-modified seeds would be needed to “feed the developing world” is propaganda from Monsanto’s public relations department.

As is the case with a number of the cables, there may not be hard news in them, but they definitely reveal how US diplomats around the globe are used to advance corporate interests, not just for the good of the US economy but for the benefit of executives — including former or current US government officials — in individual corporations.