Using Genetically Modified Organisms Could Be a Duty, Says Bioethicist

If They Pose Opportunity for Development

| 1919 hits

ROME, NOV. 21, 2003 (Zenit.org).- If genetically modified organisms represent an opportunity for development, especially for poor countries, it might be a moral duty to disseminate them, says a bioethicist.



Father Gonzalo Miranda, dean of the School of Bioethics of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, expressed this idea last week when addressing the symposium held at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on "Genetically Modified Organisms and the Social Doctrine of the Church."

In an interview with ZENIT, Father Miranda spoke about the function that biotechnology might have in the development of the poorer countries and emphasized that "the Church invites us to go beyond mere justice and equity and undertake the path of solidarity."

"If GMOs represent a real opportunity to foster the development of all countries, especially the neediest, it would be a real moral and solidaristic duty to favor their dissemination," he said.

"To block them a priori in virtue of merely ideological postures or disgraceful economic interests would not only be a lack of solidarity but also a grave injustice," the priest noted.

In the dean's opinion, "solidarity should lead to facilitating the exchange not only of seeds improved by genetics but, above all, the communication of technologies necessary to develop 'in situ' more suitable products for each place and situation."

"Some people think that genetic manipulation of living beings is an ethically reprehensible act because it tends to alter what is natural, but the Church's anthropological view leads to different conclusions," Father Miranda explained.

In regard to Christian ethics, Father Miranda stressed that "God has put man as a gardener of creation, who must act with responsibility to cultivate and take care of creation."

And, in regard to biotechnology, John Paul II has stated clearly that "technology might constitute, with a correct application, a precious instrument useful to resolve serious problems, beginning with those of hunger and sickness, through the production of varieties of more advanced and resistant plants and precious medicines," Father Miranda added.

If man intervenes, without abusing or harming nature, it can be said that "he intervenes not to modify nature, but to help it to develop according to its essence, that of creation, that willed by God," the dean concluded.