Columban brands Vatican GM conference "a disgrace"


 Columban scientist and environmental campaigner Fr Sean McDonagh has described a conference on genetically modified foods which took place last week in the Vatican "a disgrace" and "a sustained exercise in propaganda for GE seeds". The gathering entitled: "Feeding a Hungry World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology' held at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences was co-sponsored by the US Embassy to the Holy See. Fr McDonagh said: " 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 sponsoring 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). Echoing this view Jacques Bertrand from Caritas, said: "We are concerned that the GMO cultures are a technology in search of a market, more than a market in search of technology." Bertrand pointed out the fact that just four corporations -- Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta, and Aventis -- control virtually all of the world's production of GMOs. He said that the problem of hunger in the world was not caused by a shortage of food but was caused by "other problems." But after the conference the US Ambassador to the Holy See, Jim Nicholson, praised GM, saying: "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. This level of growth is what biological advances can now provide for the developing world." Fr Sean McDonagh has written extensively on GM foods, To read his reports, visit: www.columban.com Sources: Church Resources/Columban Press Office, London

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