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Biotech multinationals worry Columbans on World Food Day

The Columban Centre for Peace Ecology & Justice has issued a statement for tomorrow's World Food Day highlighting the concern that hunger and malnutrition will claim at least 50,000 lives over the weekend.

Saturday is World Food Day, while Sunday is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Anne Lanyon of the Sydney-based Columban Centre says hunger and poverty are "inextricably linked".

She is hopeful that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences will not forget that link while the international bioitech industry and the United States Government continues to lobby it for Vatican endorsement of genetically modified (GM) foods. The lobbyists claim that GM food can solve the problem of hunger, but Ms Lanyon and the Columban Centre believe that the root cause of the hunger problem is not food production techniques but global poverty.

Three three weeks ago, a Conference titled Feeding the Hungry World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology was organised in Rome by the USA Embassy to the Holy See in cooperation with The Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Ms Lanyon said: "Hunger and poverty have more to do with social injustice than with access to genetically engineered super seeds. The world produces enough food for everyone, yet 840 million people suffer malnutrition and about 1.2 billion people endure extreme poverty trying to live on less than US $1 per day."

The Columban Centre for Peace Ecology & Justice has major concerns and has expressed this in a letter to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

"The Columban Centre for Peace Ecology & Justice believes that the biotech industry is more concerned with financial profit than a desire to feed the hungry or alleviate poverty," said Ms Lanyon. "We are particularly concerned that poor countries as in Africa do not have the financial resources to fight the well-funded public relations campaign of the biotech industry.

"On World Food Day and the International Day for Eradication of Poverty we call on people of good will to challenge the strong influence of the large Biotech companies. We call for the diversion of the large amount of resources currently being put into GE agriculture products to be put into sustainable human development programs in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015."

On World Food Day & International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - Concern about Multinational Biotech Organisations! (Columban Centre for Peace Ecology & Justice 14/10/04)

Columban Centre for Peace, Ecology and Justice
Feeding a Hungry World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology (The United States Embassy to the Holy See)
World Food Program: Hunger Facts
Society of St Columban (USA): Justice Peace & Integrity of Creation - From the JPIC Office
Vatican to listen to corporate GM promotion (Network of Concerned Farmers 13/9/04)
Genetic Engineering and Agriculture (National Catholic Rural Life Conference USA)
Annan Calls for Green Revolution to Feed Africa (Planet Ark 6/7/04)
Biotechnology: meeting the needs of the poor? (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation)
US lobbies Vatican on GM food and world hunger (CathNews 27/9/04)
John L. Allen: World hunger and biotechnology debated (National Catholic Reporter 24/9/04)
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)

US asks Vatican to endorse GM food plants ( 10/10/04)
Archbishop Kelly hosts meeting on green issues (Independent Catholic News 13/10/04)

15 Oct 2004