Bishop warns GMOs will "plunge Filipino farmers into the depths of poverty" (4/9/2003)

Bishop Gutierrez "stressed that the approval of the use of GMOs in the country would further plunge Filipino farmers into the depths of poverty."
Vatican readies endorsement of GMO food, crops
By Ferdinand G. Patinio, Correspondent
The Manila Times, Friday, September 05, 2003

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 [the National Secretariat for Social Action] 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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