farm spyDamn it, no GMOs — how do I break this to State?The WikiLeaks release of U.S. State Department classified diplomatic cables may be problematic, but it has been quite a trove of information on the workings of our diplomatic corps. For the most part, the dump has confirmed things that we already knew about U.S. policy — and that seems to be the case regarding the one mention of agricultural policy in these thousands of emails and documents (no doubt there are more) to which I was alerted.

Buried deep in a document that outlines priorities for intelligence gathering in the African “Great Lakes” countries of Burundi, the Republic of Congo, and Rwanda is a list (for the most part, very reasonable) of what the State Department would like to know about the region’s agricultural policy. Things like government policies on food security and food safety top the list, for example, along with information on the impact of rising food prices in these countries. Agricultural yield statistics, infrastructure improvements, data on deforestation and desertification, water issues, and invasive species are included as priorities for “reporting” as well.

But also getting its own line item on the intel priority list is this:

Government acceptance of genetically modified food and propagation of genetically modified crops.

Sigh.

Tom Philpott has reported on the State Department’s biotech-loving science adviser Nina Federoff and her industry ties — and certainly USDA Chief Tom Vilsack believes that genetically modified foods are an answer to world hunger. So this revelation hardly counts as a surprise. But it’s still a shame to see that our spymasters are actively engaged in efforts to make the world safe for Monsanto. Aren’t there better things for them to do?