Holy Bio Lining up the religious "ducks" (26/8/2003)

Source: The Ram's Horn - A monthly journal of food systems analysis
(Canada) http://www.ramshorn.bc.ca/

Holy Bio

The biotech industry is systematically lining up its ducks and telling them when and where to quack. Blair and Bush have performed well. It's an expensive operation, however, consuming not only corporate and government funds, but also the time, energy and money of the public that finds itself excluded from the process, victimized by politicians who are supposed to represent and protect its interests. Now the biotechies are lining up their 'religious' ducks, Protestant and Catholic.

First, Bob Edgar.  In a  June 25th press release,  Carl Feldbaum, President of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), and Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, which is comprised of 36 Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican denominations, announced that BIO and NCC had signed a Memorandum of Understanding.  The MOU commits both organizations to promote "an active and informed public debate about the ethics and moral implications of the use of various  biotechnologies" and to "actively seek out collaborative efforts, programs and projects that promote a deeper public understanding of the ethical issues surrounding biotechnology."

The press release quotes Dr. Edgar as saying, "Biotechnologies promise magnificent contributions to human well-being. At the same time, there is a need for vigilance about the ways in which those technologies are applied, so that human dignity and equality of opportunity are assured." In the MOU the two groups affirm "a common belief in the importance and urgency of the appropriate and ethical use of the rapidly growing field of biotechnology," and state their "unequivocal opposition to human cloning."

Since then, it has emerged that Bob Edgar was acting entirely on his own, by-passing both staff members and NCC committees supposedly responsible for such areas. It seems that Bod Edgar and Carl Feldman are old friends.  While church people protest this totally inappropriate behaviour, we can be sure that BIO and Monsanto are laughing their heads off. What a PR coup for the manipulators.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the water, Monsanto's apparent representative in the Vatican, Archbishop Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has been trying to do his part for Monsanto and the US government by announcing that genetically modified foods hold the answer to world starvation and malnutrition. Sounding rather like the US Trade Representative,Martino said he had lived for 16 years in the US, "and I ate everything that was offered to me, including genetically modified products. They had no effect on my health. This controversy is more political than scientific."

This was reported in The Australian on August 5th in an article originating from The Times of London. The headline was "Vatican says GM food is a blessing" and reported that the Vatican was preparing an official report on biotechnology, to be published next month, which would come down in favour of genetic modification. The Associated Press later reported that Martino had contradicted such claims,  saying that Vatican authorities are simply planning to hold a roundtable discussion later this year to study the ethical and scientific implications of using GM crops and that no official decision on whether or not to support the technology has yet been taken.

Early last year Pope John Paul II issued a warning about genetic manipulation, telling scientists that 'not all that is technically feasible is morally right.' The achievements of modern day medicine and biotechnology could tempt man into wanting to modify the "tree of life", the pope said. in. But life, the pope said, should be viewed as "a gift from God" and not as "private property".
Brewster Kneen
S-6, C-27, RR.1
Sorrento, B.C. V0E 2W0, Canada
ph/fx: 250-675-4866
[email protected]

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