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Pope sounds caution on risks from new agricultural technology
    Dedicating Sunday to the world's farmers, Pope John Paul II urged those who are developing new biotechnologies to keep a 'healthy balance' with nature to avoid putting people's lives at risk.
    Tens of thousands of farmers and their families, most of them from Italy but many from other countries and continents, crowded into St Peter's Square on a chilly, overcast day to attend Mass on the steps of St Peter's Basilica for the Jubilee of Farmers.
    While not citing a specific biotechnology, the Holy Father's words picked up on a speech he gave on Saturday evening in which he urged rigorous scientific and ethical controls to avoid possible 'disaster for the health of man and the future of the Earth's from new agricultural technologies.
    On Sunday, the Pope told the farmers in St Peter's Square that "if the world of most refined techniques doesn't reconcile itself with the simple language of nature in a healthy balance, the life of man will run ever greater risks, of which already we are seeing worrying signs."
    He told the farmers to 'resist the temptations of productivity and profit that work to the detriment of the respect of nature'. Saying God entrusted land to mankind to take care of it, the pope said: "When you forget this principle, becoming tyrants and not custodians of the Earth, sooner or later the Earth rebels."
   
AP
   
14-Nov-00