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9-Misc: Philippine Bishop alarmed by reports Vatican would endorseGMOs



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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Bishop Gutierrez alarmed by reports Vatican would endorse GMOs
SOURCE: MindaNews, Philippines, by Sonny Evangelista
        http://www.mindanews.com/2003/09/04nws-gmo.html
DATE:   Sep 4, 2003

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Bishop Gutierrez alarmed by reports Vatican would endorse GMOs

MANILA -- Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez of the Diocese of Marbel, the chair
of the Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace of the
Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has expressed alarm over
reports the Vatican will endorse genetically modified organisms or GMOs.

In a letter addressed to the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and
Pease head Archbishop Renate Rafaelle Martino on August 15 (but released
only today. 4 September), Bishop Gutierrez said there have been recent
reports in newspapers and in the internet that the Council would probably
endorse GMO foods.

"If these reports are true, then I think it is really a matter we should
consider with deep concern."

"Genetic engineering remains an intense issue in the Philippines after it
was brought to national attention last May by a coalition opposed to the
commercial release of Bacillus thuriengiensis Corn (Bt Corn). A 30-day
hunger strike was conducted by the group in front of the Department of
Agriculture building calling for a moratorium on the Bt corn release," he
wrote.

"Here in my own Diocese, various protests and mass actions were already
conducted even before the hunger strike, since South Cotabato in Mindanao
is one of the field testing sites for Bt corn," the bishop noted.

Several groups, including farmers' alliances, scientists and members of
the academe and the CBCP's Permanent Council and the National Secretariat
for Social Action (NASSA), had expressed their opposition to the
commercial release of the GMOs.

"A technology such as genetic engineering, whose long-term effects on
human health and the environment are really unknown, should be applied
with extreme caution following the precautionary principle. Bt corn and
all the other products of genetic engineering pose

a threat to 'genetic integrity, human safety and farmers' control over
its basic means of production the seed," Gutierrez said.

GMO supporters say genetic engineering is the answer to the problem of
hunger but Bishop Gutierrez said Filipino farmers " will further plunge
into the depths of poverty in using GM crops. In the Philippines, as in
the case anywhere in the world, the real problem is not on the inadequacy
of food production but its inaccessibility and inequitable distribution
to all people."

He stressed that the Church has to reflect and address societal issues.
"We believe that the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace also adheres
to the principles of equality and justice. Any technological and
scientific advancement must be subjected to moral

scrutiny." Gutierrez reminded the Council of a statement in the
Cathechism of the Catholic Church: "Science and technology by their very
nature require unconditional respect for fundamental moral criteria. They
must be at the service of the human person (and) in conformity with the
plan and will of God."

For this reason, he added: "Any endorsement the Council will give
regarding genetically modified crops and foods must be based on sound
judgment and discernment guided by the teachings of our Church."

He also reminded Archbishop Martino of the Pope's "Sollicitudo Rei
Socialis" of 1987 which states: "It is necessary to state once more the
characteristic principle of Christian social doctrine: the goods of this
world are originally meant for all. The right to private property is
valid and necessary, but it does not nullify the value of this principle.
Private

property, in fact, is under a 'social mortgage', which means that it has
an intrinsically social function, based upon and justified precisely by
the principle of the universal destination of goods."

Bishop Gutierrez concluded his letter by imploring Martino "not to take
any step that will create uncertainties and further division brought
about by genetic engineering. We should rise up to the challenges posed
by modern biotechnology and above all protect the integrity of creation."


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Vatican readies endorsement of GMO food, crops
SOURCE: The Manila Times, Philippines, by Ferdinand G. Patinio
        http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2003/sept/05/top_stories/
        20030905top12.html
DATE:   Sep 5, 2003

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Vatican readies endorsement of GMO food, crops

THE Vatican is set to endorse the consumption of products using
genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This was disclosed on Thursday by
the social arm of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).

This was learned by Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, chair of the National
Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace (Nassa), after Archbishop
Renate Rafaelle Martino, of the Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace,
said that the Vatican was drafting an official report on biotechnology
supporting genetic engineering to be published next month.

Dinualdo expressed alarm over the report claiming that any decision
regarding the issue will create uncertainties and further divisions
brought about by genetic engineering.

Gutierrez said that the statement of Martino was published in newspapers
abroad and also in the Internet.

The group expressed objection to any endorsement regarding the use of
GMOs in the country.

"The Nassa is registering its strong opposition to any decision from the
Holy See endorsing the use of genetically modified crops and foods;
precautionary principle should be adopted," Gutierrez, in a statement, said.

Any endorsement the council will give regarding genetically modified
crops and food must be based on sound judgment and discernment guided by
the teachings of the Church.

The CBCP Permanent Council had called for a moratorium on the commercial
release of Bacillus thuriengiensis Corn or the Bt Corn in the Philippines.

Gutierrez said a technology such as genetic engineering, whose long-term
effects on human health and the environment are really unknown, should be
applied with extreme caution following the precautionary principle.

The Nassa believes that genetically modified food is not the answer to
the problem of world hunger. It is poverty brought about by inequality
and injustice.

He stressed that the approval of the use of GMOs in the country would
further plunge Filipino farmers into the depths of poverty.

 


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