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[genet-news] POLICY & DEVELOPMENT: Instrument Laboris for 2nd Special Assembly for Africa on GE crops



                                  PART 1


------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  INSTRUMENT LABORIS - SYNOD OF BISHOPS - II SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AFRICA

SOURCE: Zenit, Holy See

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.zenit.org/rssenglish-25422

DATE:   20.03.2009

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INSTRUMENT LABORIS - SYNOD OF BISHOPS - II SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AFRICA

SYNOD OF BISHOPS

II SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR AFRICA


THE CHURCH IN AFRICA
IN SERVICE TO
RECONCILIATION, JUSTICE AND PEACE.

?You are the salt of the earth...
You are the light of the world? (Mt 5: 13, 14)

INSTRUMENTUM LABORIS

[...]

CHAPTER II
 - RECONCILIATION, JUSTICE AND PEACE: AN URGENT NEED

48. The aforementioned areas of attention and involvement and the reflections on the synod topic from the Particular Churches give some indication of the ?openings? and ?obstacles? on the road to reconciliation, justice and peace.[29] The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI reminded the Pastors of the African continent that ?the commitment of the faithful to the service of reconciliation, justice and peace is urgently needed.?[30]

[...]

II. ON THE ROAD TO JUSTICE

55. Some responses mention that the African concept of justice is the same as reconciliation and peace, because it is grounded in the idea of restoring harmony-individually or in society as a whole-between those who give offense and the offended parties. So many obstacles exist on the road to justice, the faithful are awaiting some proposals from the synod fathers which will assist them in their work.

1. Justice: Experiences in Society

[...]

58. Farm workers, on whom a great part of the African economy depends, are victims of injustice in marketing their products. They are often paid a very low price for their goods. Paradoxically, in some parts of Africa, the cost is even set by the buyers themselves. Populations already suffering from a disadvantage are thereby further impoverished. The seeding campaign of proponents of Genetically Modified Food, which purports to give assurances for food safety, should not overlook the true problems of agriculture in Africa: the lack of cultivatable land, water, energy, access to credit, agricultural training, local markets, road infrastructures, etc. This campaign runs the risk of ruining small landholders, abolishing traditional methods of seeding and making farmers dependent on the production companies of OGM. Furthermore, the problem of climate change, whose effects are being felt in arid areas, is compromising the modest gains of African economies. Will the synod fathers 
 be able to remain unresponsive to these questions weighing so heavily on the shoulders of their countrymen?

[...]

[29] JOHN PAUL II, Message for the World Day of Peace: ?No Peace Without Justice, No Justice Without Forgiveness? (08.12.2001): AAS 94 (2002) 132-140.

[30] BENEDICT XVI, Message to the Bishops of Mali on their Ad Limina Visit (18.05.2007): L?Osservatore Romano: Weekly Edition in English, 30.05.2007, p. 4.



                                  PART 2

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  BISHOP SANCHEZ?S POSITION ON GMOS UNTENABLE

SOURCE: GMWatch, UK

AUTHOR: Fr. Sean McDonagh, SSC

URL:    http://db.zs-intern.de/uploads/1238417676-vaticanGM.pdf

DATE:   25.03.2009

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BISHOP SANCHEZ?S POSITION ON GMOS UNTENABLE

The publication of the Instrumentum Laboris for the Synod on Africa on March 19th 2009, must have put a lot of pressure on Bishop Sanchez, the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences who is an enthusiastic supporter of GM crops.

This working document for the Synod has involved extensive collaboration between the 36 Episcopal Conferences and two Eastern Catholic Churches on the African continent, as well as those of the 25 Departments of the Roman Curia and the Union of Superiors Generals. It is critical of the propaganda which has surrounded GM crops. In number 58 it states that: ?Farm workers, on whom a great part of the African economy depends, are victims of injustice in marketing their products. They are often paid a very low price for their goods.

Paradoxically, in some parts of Africa, the cost is even set by the buyers themselves.

Populations already suffering from a disadvantage are thereby further impoverished. The seeding campaign of proponents of Genetically Modified Food, which purports to give assurances for food safety, should not overlook the true problems of agriculture in Africa: the lack of cultivatable land, water, energy, access to credit, agricultural training, local markets, road infrastructures, etc. This campaign runs the risk of ruining small landholders, abolishing traditional methods of exchanging seeds and making farmers dependent on the production companies of GMOs.? While many bishops in Asia, Africa and Latin America have made similar comments about GMOs, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, has been doing all in its power to aggressively promote GM crops.

In September 2004, the Academy and the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, organized a one day seminar in the Gregorian University on the theme Feeding the World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology. All the speakers at that event were actively involved in promoting GM crops and some, such as Dr. Peter Ravan, the director of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, have close connections with Monsanto.

I attended the seminar and trenchantly criticized the one-sided nature of the debate. I also pointed out that none of the speakers had any competence in the area of development, poverty alleviation or hunger. Those who had such competence, such as Caritas Internationalis, were not invited to the event.

As if a one-day promotion of GM crops supposedly to feed the poor was not enough, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is organising a five day event at the Vatican from May 15th to 19th this year. The title of the Study-Week is Transgenic Plants for Food Security in the Context of Development. Many of those who attended the 2004 seminar are speaking at the Study-Week.

In an introduction to the booklet which outlines the topics and speakers for the Study Week, Prof. Ingo Potrykus, Chairman of the Swiss based Humanitarian Golden Rice Board and Network, stated, ?Changing societal attitudes, including the regulatory processes involved, is extremely important if we are to save biotechnology.? Prof. Potrykus wants the Academy to support his campaign to dismantle the regulatory system for GM crops. He blames it for impeding the spread of potential benefits to be gained from adopting biotechnology in agriculture. This is also the position of Dr. Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

In an article entitled, Vatican Cheers GM, in Nature Biotechnology [1], Anna Meldolesi quotes Dr. Raven who interprets the Study Week as a sign that the Vatican has given a green light to GM crops, ?I think that we are heading in the right direction with this meeting and it will help to dispel some of the myths about GM crops?. I would hope that the high moral ground of the Vatican is relevant, at least in Catholic countries.? Dr. Raven?s claims are in direct contradiction to what the authors of the working document for the Synod for Africa have written.

Prof. Potrykus admits that this particular Study Week is not a standard ?science? meeting. He claims that opposition to biotechnology in agriculture is usually ideological. However, it is obvious from his introduction that the Study Week is ideologically biased towards advancing the dominance of agriculture by Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).

The authors of the working document for the Synod for Africa are close to their people and sees GM crops for what they are, namely a way of enriching giant biotech corporations at the expense of the poor. It is a pity that Bishop Sanchez is listening to pro-GMO propaganda, instead of paying attention to the voice of the Church in Africa.

Reference 1. Anna Meldolesi, Vatican Cheers GM, Nature Biotechnology, Vol. 27, No. 3., pp. 214-214 (2009) http://www.nature.com/nbtjournal/v27/n3/full/nbt0309-21a (subscription needed).


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