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Vatican cardinal speaks on genetically-modified food

October 24, 2013

Speaking in Iowa, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace called for dialogue between proponents and opponents of genetically-modified food, according to the Des Moines Register and Catholic News Service.

“In Catholic thought, ‘nature’ is neither sacred nor divine, neither to be feared or to be revered and left untouched,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson. “Rather, it is a gift offered by the Creator to the human community to be entrusted to the intelligence and moral responsibility of men and women. Therefore it is legitimate for humans with the correct attitude to intervene in nature and make modifications.”

“Some may claim that research is ethically neutral that its application is either good or bad,” he said. “But there’s no human activity that’s ethically neutral.”

“There is a need sometimes to be prudent,” the prelate added. “Let’s take every reasonable measure of caution beforehand to avoid the risk of human health or the environment. Such prudence is necessary to any element to advance the common good.”

In addition to calling for dialogue, Cardinal Turkson called for the labeling of genetically-modified food.

“Adopt the highest standards of communication with the public as well as rules of labeling to guarantee producers and consumers rights to information,” he said.


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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: cvm46470 - Oct. 24, 2013 11:29 PM ET USA

    "Reasonable caution" has been used with GM crops.Billions of meals have been consumed over 20 years with no problems. Why is the council on'justice and peace'weighing in on this issue? Reality is that GM crops have improved harvests in poor countries, reduced environmental impact by reduced tillage and reduced insecticide use.Genetic modification has been ongoing since farming began;it is just more precise today.Required "labeling" would only add fuel to the myth and hurt developing nations most

  • Posted by: msorensen71798 - Oct. 24, 2013 9:29 PM ET USA

    This GMO labeling issue is on the November ballot in Washington State, and is a very hotly debated topic. No one really "wants" to eat GMO food, but Monsanto has put big bucks into the "No on I-522" campaign, so it will likely fail. And then it will be the poster-child for labeling laws across the country: "See? The people have spoken: they like GMO!" Very sad. I am ashamed of my state.

  • Posted by: mario.f.leblanc5598 - Oct. 24, 2013 8:52 PM ET USA

    I disagree with you rpp, but on the other hand I believe we have the right to choose, and to get proper labelling to guide that choice. Unfortunately, it must be realized that the luxury of choosing organic or other fancy foodstuffs is something only a small fraction of mankind can afford. The prelate's comments seem to be quite reasonable to me. He does not pose as an expert of biotechnology, but calls for the experts and decision makers to act in an ethical manner, a useful reminder indeed.

  • Posted by: rpp - Oct. 24, 2013 6:03 PM ET USA

    I have moved just bought a small farm for the express purpose of growing my own food as I do not believe GMO food is healthy. I believe biochemistry, and God's creation, is far too complex for us to fiddle around without grave unforeseen consequences.