VATICAN CITY (CNS): The Vatican is interested in any development that can help alleviate poverty and starvation, but it is not ready to give an unqualified yes to genetically modified food, said the head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
Council president, Archbishop Renato Martino, said on August 4 his office was organising a meeting of several dozen experts on agriculture, food technology and hunger to discuss the “scientific, ethical and humanitarian” aspects of genetically modified food.
The archbishop’s statement was issued after an Italian newspaper said the justice and peace council had prepared a document giving the Vatican’s blessing to biotech foods, even though the majority of Europeans express fear about the long-term effects of such food on their health and on the environment.
In his statement, Archbishop Martino said his position, and that of the council, has not changed since he attended a conference on food technology sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture in June.
The debate is complicated by concerns for the environment and particularly by the patenting and production of so-called “terminator seeds”, which produce a high yield crop, but bear sterile seeds, forcing farmers to buy new seeds each year.