Vatican conference a "disgrace" / Caritas International joins the criticism (29/9/2004)
Catholic World News reports how Caritas official Jacques Bertrand managed to raise these concerns at the conference, though only from the floor. (Questions raised on high-tech foods)
Fr Sean McDonagh who is quoted in the article below was also at the conference. He has commented, "All the speakers were totally in support of GE foods as the only realistic way to solve hunger. No other point of view was heard and there was no one from the development community to present there perspective.
"Far from feeding the world I believe that GE food will further exacerbate world hunger. I attempted to get the floor on a number of occasions during the conference but with little success...
"After the conference I complained to the Bishop in charge of the Pontifical Academy that sponoring such a one-sided position on such an important topic was [not] good science or an appropriate position for the Church to take since those who are poised to gain most from GE foods are multinational
corporations (mostly from the US)...
"As I said to the Bishop at the Conference, this is much more important than Humanae Vitae. Sex is a species issue otherwise celibacy would be evil. Food are the basic needs of every human being. If we are denied food for a few weeks we die."
Columban condemns Vatican conference "disgrace"
Renowned Irish envorinmental activist Fr Sean McDonagh has labelled last week's Vatican conference on genetically modified foods "a disgrace" and "a sustained exercise in propaganda for GE seeds".
The meeting titled Feeding a Hungry World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology and co-sponsored by the US Embassy to the Holy See, was held at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
"One can understand why the US Embassy to the Holy See would wish to have such a conference in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Gregorian University," Fr McDonagh told Online Catholics. "However neither the Academy or the Gregorian should have allowed themselves to be used in such a blatant way. Dialogue is the way of science and there was no dialogue at the Gregorian on September 23rd."
Meanwhile Caritas official Jacques Bertrand voiced his concerns, noting that the major providers of GMOs are seeking new markets.
"We are concerned," he said, "that the GMO cultures are a technology in search of a market, more than a market in search of technology."
Bertrand also saw reason for concern in the fact that four corporations -- Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, and Aventis -- control virtually all of the world's production of GMOs.
Moreover, Bertrand continued, the problem of hunger in the world is not caused by a shortage of goods. He argued that there is "already enough nourishment produced today to feed the world's population." There are other problems responsible for hunger in the world, he said.
In the US, reaction has been more positive. Despite criticism reported in the online edition of National Catholic Reporter after Friday's meeting, the US Bishops' Catholic Ns Service has led with tghe comments of US Ambassador to the Holy See Jim Nicholson.
"There was a traditional farmers' bragging right with 100 bushels of corn per acre, and that was a very good year. Now, because of the miracles of seed science and fertilizers, they can get 300 bushels per acre," he said."This level of growth is what biological advances can now provide for the developing world."
Questions raised on high-tech foods (Catholic World News 28/9/04)
Vatican GM Food Conference a disgrace (Online Catholics 29/9/04)
At Rome conference, debate over genetically modified food continues (Catholic News Service
United States Embassy to the Holy See
US lobbies Vatican on GM food and world hunger (CathNews 27/9/04)
Columbans warn Vatican against GM food solution to world hunger (CathNews 15/9/04)
Sean McDonagh, SSC: The Vatican and GE Food
Sean McDonagh, SSC: GE Food - Feeding the Hungry
Columbans appeal to Vatican: "Say NO to GM Foods!" (Online Catholics 15/9/04)