Aide: No Official Vatican Stand on Modified Crops

Genetically Modified Organisms Still Being Debated

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican does not have an official position on genetically modified organisms, according to the director of the Vatican press office.



Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi made this clarification after the Nov. 30 publication of the final document from a study week sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The document, "Transgenic Plants for Food Security in the Context of Development," is the result of a May 2009 study week and follows up on earlier studies from the academy.

But it does not represent an official Vatican position, Father Lombardi affirmed, saying it "was signed by the participants [in the study group], and hence has the value of their scientific authority."

Forty scientists participated in the study week, including the then-president of the academy, the late Nicola Cabibbo. Only seven of the participants were members of the academy, however, so Father Lombardi said the document should not even be considered an official declaration of the academy.

"The academy as such, which has 80 members, has not been consulted on it, nor does it foresee such a consultation," he explained.
 
"Much less, then, can the declaration be considered an official position of the Holy See or of the teaching of the Church on the topic," Father Lombardi said.

A go-ahead

Genetically modified organisms are considered by some to be a significant step toward eliminating world hunger. Others fear the unfair advantage these crops could give to corporations over poor farmers, and the possible health consequences that could result from the consumption of genetically modified organisms.

The synod on Africa took up the issue among its debates as well.

The document from the study week essentially gives its blessing to genetically modified organisms and calls for their greater availability, especially for the poor.

It also addresses many of the issues causing public debate.

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On the Net:

Final document: www.ask-force.org/web/Vatican-PAS-Statement-FPT-PDF/PAS-Statement-English-FPT.pdf

Information on the study week: www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_academies/acdscien/2009/booklet_transgenic_19.pdf