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Columbans warn Vatican against GM food solution to world hunger

The Sydney-based Columban Centre for Peace, Ecology has expressed concern that the United States will be successful in its attempt to lobby the Vatican to accept the proposition that using genetically-modified food to alleviate world hunger is a "moral imperative".

The US Embassy to the Holy See is organising a conference on 24 September in cooperation with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The event is titled: Feeding a Hungry World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology.

The Columban Centre has expressed its concerns in writing to the Academy. It is urging other individuals and groups to do likewise.

"Proponents of genetically engineered crops always characterised the discussion in terms of 'Feeding a Hungry World'," said the Centre's Anne Lanyon. "But ultimately, poverty is at the root of hunger and malnutrition."

Ms Lanyon said credible groups of scientists and economists maintain that people are hungry because they live in poverty, not because there is not enough food in the world.

"In fact, the push from GM crops by a small number of powerful countries and companies is driven more by financial profit than a desire to feed the hungry."

The Centre is anxious that thinking Catholics familiarise themselves with the issues. To that end, it is circulating some writings of Irish Columban activist Fr Sean McDonagh, who argues strongly that it is US multinationals that stand to gain most from GE crops.

"My main concern about GE crops is that it will give enormous control of the staple foods of the world to a handful of Northern agribusiness companies," he says. "It will be a tragedy if the Vatican listens to the corporate voice rather than the voice of countless Christian communities and their leaders in Third World countries."

Columban Centre for Peace, Ecology and Justice letter to President, Pontifical Academy of Sciences (9/9/04)

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)

15 Sep 2004