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POLICY & FOOD: Shock as GM declared íhalalí by workshop promoting GE foods



                                  PART 1


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

TITLE:   SHOCK AS GM DECLARED ?HALAL?

SOURCE:  EcoIslam, UK

AUTHOR:  Mohideen Abdul Kader

URL:     http://db.zs-intern.de/uploads/1315287464-newsletter_EcoIslam_Issue8.pdf

DATE:    01.06.2011

SUMMARY: "In December 2010, an international workshop for Islamic scholars was held in Penang, Malaysia on the theme ?Agribiotechnology: Shariah Compliance.? [...] A web report claimed that the workshop was ?attended by high-ranking ulama from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Iran, Malaysia and Indonesia and scientists from Malaysia, USA, Iran and Egypt.? In fact, anyone with differing views from the organisers was not invited. The discussion was also limited to the halal/haram debate and, not surprisingly, resulted in a fatwa that stated that GM is permissable in Islam."

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SHOCK AS GM DECLARED ?HALAL?

Mohideen Abdul Kader, Vice President of the Consumer Association of Penang, Malaysia

In December 2010, an international workshop for Islamic scholars was held in Penang, Malaysia on the theme ?Agribiotechnology: Shariah Compliance.? The little publicized event was not attended by any of the NGO?s in Malaysia with a background in biotech issues. A web report claimed that the workshop was ?attended by high-ranking ulama from Saudi Arabia , Afghanistan, and Iran, Malaysia and Indonesia and scientists from Malaysia, USA, Iran and Egypt.? In fact, anyone with differing views from the organisers was not invited. The discussion was also limited to the halal/haram debate and, not surprisingly, resulted in a fatwa that stated that GM is permissable in Islam.

The two day workshop, organized by the Malaysia Biotechnology Information Centre and International Halal Integrity Alliance, concluded that genetic modification and GM products are halal as long as the sources from which they originate are halal. Exceptions are products derived from haram origin, which retain original characteristics that are not substantially changed. Furthermore, the fatwa makes the promotion of modern biotechnology and genetic engineering a fardh kifayah (collective obligation) because of their positive impacts on agriculture and the urgency of food security for Muslim populations. This resolution is clearly influenced by one-sided information about the benefits of biotechnology circulated by trans-national corporations and other vested interests.

This includes the myth that GM foods are being cultivated to feed poor communities whereas the crops are primarily designed to maximize profits. By focusing simply on the halal/haram origin of the gene used in genetic engineering , the workshop ignores fundamental values in the Islamic worldview.

The Biotech Worldview

Biotechnology is based on a worldview that sees nature in separate parts and not an organic whole, linked by a web of relationships-organisms, forests, ecosystems, societies. Consequently a forest can be destroyed to plant cash crops without taking into account the ecological balance and the binding interdependence between plants, animals, people and micro-organisms.

The Islamic Worldview

The reductionism on which genetic engineering is anchored is clearly inconsistent with the holistic approach of the Qur?an:

And the earth We have spread out; set theron

Mountains firm and immovable; and produced

therein all kinds of things in due balance

[Qu?ran 15:19]

It?s the fracturing of nature?s balance and harmony by profit-driven corporations that is responsible for some of the environmental disasters confronting us today.

Genetic engineering undermines the integrity of God?s creation. This technology has the power to break down fundamental genetic barriers, not only between species, but also between humans, animals, and plants. Gene engineers are now snipping, inserting, recombining, editing, and programming genetic materials. Animal and even human genes are inserted into the chromosomes of plants, fish and animals, creating unimaginable transgenic life forms. These scientists are trying to alter the very nature, essence and qualities of God?s creation in clear violation of the Qu?ranic injunction:

?(Establish)Allah?s handiwork according to the pattern on which He has made mankind: No change (let there be) in the work (wrought) by Allah?

[Qur?an 30:30]

The Qu?ran has also warned of Satan?s intentions to mislead mankind:

?And surely I will lead them astray, an sure I will arouse desires in them, and surely I will command them and they will cut the cattle?s ears, and surely I will command them and they will change Allah?s creations. Whoso chooseth Satan for a patron instead of Allah is verily a loser, and his loss is manifest. [Qur?an 4:117-119]

Rethinking GM fatwas

Fatwas should not be issued on GM without looking at the costs and possible benefits, if any. GM foods have not been proven to improve food security for the world?s poor. There is no credible evidence to show that genetic modification has increased yields, reduced pesticide use, or improved food nutrition. In fact, the crops that currently dominate the GM market do not include any of the staple foods that could benefit the developing world.

Genetic engineering is also dangerous on many levels, not least because it involves breaking down species barriers using recombined versions of genetic parasites. This has the potential to create hazards such as new drug-resistant viruses and diseases.

Given the nature of genetic engineering, its dangers and its failure to fulfill the claims of its proponents, it is shocking that Islamic scholars and Muslim scientists could grant it halal status, and make its promotion a collective religious obligation of the ummah.

Islamic scholars must be wary of being manipulated by the biotech industry to give religious legitimacy to its products, and realize how aggressively this industry is trying to penetrate foreign markets. At the very least, Islamic scholars should consult both the supporters and opponents of agribiotechnology before giving their opinion. Ultimately, genetic engineering should be evaluated in light of the Qur?anic verses that underpin the Islamic worldview to judge whether it promotes the aims of the Shariah-the protection of religion, life, mind and posterity.



                                  PART 2

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

TITLE:   CAN GM FOODS BE ?HALAL?? OR KOSHER?

SOURCE:  Green Prophet, UK

AUTHOR:  Arwa Aburawa

URL:     http://www.greenprophet.com/2011/08/gm-foods-halal-kosher/

DATE:    03.08.2011

SUMMARY: "Back in December 2010, a conference held in Penang, Malaysia with biotechnology experts and halal proponents ended with the conclusion that genetically modified food was halal ( ?permissible? for Muslims) as long as the sources from which they originate from are halal. This decision ? which was accompanied by a fatwa declaring GM halal ? came as a shock to some in the wider Muslim community who consider GM a deviation from god?s creation. The UK-based green Muslim organisation Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences insisted the fatwa was controversial and ?failed to consider biotechnology from an Islamic perspective, ignoring not only the harm that GM causes to the environment but the way it undermines the integrity of God?s creation.?"

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CAN GM FOODS BE ?HALAL?? OR KOSHER?

Investigating the profit-motivated push to make genetically modified food ?halal?

Back in December 2010, a conference held in Penang, Malaysia with biotechnology experts and halal proponents ended with the conclusion that genetically modified food was halal ( ?permissible? for Muslims) as long as the sources from which they originate from are halal. This decision ? which was accompanied by a fatwa declaring GM halal ? came as a shock to some in the wider Muslim community who consider GM a deviation from god?s creation.

The UK-based green Muslim organisation Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences insisted the fatwa was controversial and ?failed to consider biotechnology from an Islamic perspective, ignoring not only the harm that GM causes to the environment but the way it undermines the integrity of God?s creation.?

Genetically modified food is a plant or animal which has genetic material that has been changed using genetic engineering rather than sexual crossing. Genetic modification was developed back in the 1980s and commercial agricultural companies invested heavily in the science in the 1990s to grow crops mainly in developed nations such as Canada and the US.

It has since spread to rising developing nations such as Argentina, Brazil and India (although controversy in Europe means that their use there has been limited).

The Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES) has remarked that GM companies are now targeting Muslim populations through their ?profit-motivated? efforts to establish the Shariah-compliance of GM. They added that they are ?manipulating Islamic scholars into issuing highly controversial fatwas in support of GM.?

Fazlun Khalid, founder of IFEES, explained in an editorial in the organisations newsletter that there were real fears about pest-resistant GM crops causing species loss and a decline in bird species. ?There are complex scientific, ethical,and political issues to be explored ,? he said. ?And it is a puzzle how an unrepresentative group of ulema [religious scholars], however learned in the Islamic Sciences, can determine in a two-day conference held in Penang, Malaysia last December, that GM foods are halal and can be consumer by Muslims.?

Green campaigners such as Greenpeace have challenged GM crops on the grounds that there is a lack of adequate scientific understanding of their impact on the environment and human health.

The GM industry has also been criticized due its efforts to portray GM as a solution to world hunger through genetically modifying crops with increased yield and nutrition, when in reality GM crops are expensive, require a lot of pesticide and water which may actually hinder the agriculture of developing nations.

However, even amongst green activists the debate over genetically modified food is not straightforward. During a lecture given by the vertical farming advocate Dickson Despommier, a question was raised about the possibility of using GM crops in the farms.

Despommier, who is a parasitologist at Columbia in New York City, insisted that there was nothing wrong with genetically modified food per se. The only problem he saw was that most GM crops were modified to resist higher and higher levels of herbicide and pesticide and not for greater yield or better nutrition.

So, what do you think? Is GM good or bad for us? Maybe you think that with some limits it can be useful or are you concerned that we are simply meddling in affairs we don?t fully understand? Also, can GM really be Halal or Kosher?



                                  PART 3

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

TITLE:   RESOLUTION ON HALAL STATUS OF GM CROPS AND FOODS ADOPTED AT AGRI-BIOTECH WORKSHOP FOR ISLAMIC SCHOLARS

SOURCE:  International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, USA (ISAAA)

AUTHOR:  Crop Biotech Update

URL:     http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/article/default.asp?ID=7064

DATE:    10.12.2010

SUMMARY: "The International Workshop for Islamic Scholars: ?Agri-biotechnology: Shariah Compliance? jointly organized by the Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC) and International Halal Integrity Alliance was conducted last 1 to 2 December in Penang, Malaysia. The participants adopted a resolution that accepts GM crops and products as halal should all ingredients used to develop them are from halal sources."

----- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/information-services.html -----


RESOLUTION ON HALAL STATUS OF GM CROPS AND FOODS ADOPTED AT AGRI-BIOTECH WORKSHOP FOR ISLAMIC SCHOLARS

The International Workshop for Islamic Scholars: ?Agri-biotechnology: Shariah Compliance? jointly organized by the Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre (MABIC) and International Halal Integrity Alliance (IHIA) was conducted last 1 to 2 December in Penang, Malaysia. The participants adopted a resolution that accepts GM crops and products as halal should all ingredients used to develop them are from halal sources.

With a focus on alleviatingexisting food problems and poverty, the International Workshop of Islamic Scholars and Experts in Modern Biotechnolgy on ?Agri-biotechnology: Shariah Compliance? agreed upon the following resolutions:

1. Islam and science are complementary and Islam supports beneficial scientific innovations for mankind. Modern biotechnology and genetic engineering are important developments that merit promotion in all OIC Members. Regulatory measures should facilitate the acceptance and use of GM products particularly by Muslims. Genetic modification and GM products are Halal as long as the sources from which they originate are Halal. The only Haram cases are limited to products derived from Haram origin retaining their original characteristics that are not substantially changed.

2. Modern biotechnology and genetic engineering are methods of plant improvement and intrinsically are not different from other plant improvement techniques from the shariah point of view.

3. In ensuring food security, our Islamic obligations require us to urge all Muslim countries, governments, international organizations and research institutions, to support research and development and use of modern biotechnology, genetic engineering and their products.

4. Because of their positive impacts on agriculture and the urgency of food security for Muslim Ummah, promotion of modern biotechnology and genetic engineering are considered ?Fardhu Kifayah? (collective obligation) and should not be neglected from the shariah point of view.

5. Public awareness and education on modern biotechnology and genetic engineering, demand continuous interaction between the Islamic scholars, scientists, and the general public.

6. Transparent and complete scientific information should be available for the interested stakeholders for informed decision-making.

The workshop was attended by high-ranking ulamas from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia and Indonesia, and scientists from Malaysia, USA, Iran and Egypt. The workshop kicked off with ulama presenting the principles of shariah and concept of halal and followed by scientists presenting the facts of GM technology, its impact to human, animal and environmental safety, and socioeconomic benefits. The resolution was adopted after deliberation between scientists and ulama weighing all aspects of benefits and risks, and the need for the technology in OIC countries that form the bulk of major food importers.