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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 not 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 good. 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 27/9/04)

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)

29 Sep 2004