Fixing the Pope - Martino's Fake Debate (26/10/2003)

If you wondered how His (pro-GM) Eminence, Renato R. Martino, could tell La Stampa the Vatican was going to arrive at a pro-GM position ahead of even studying the matter, then the list of speakers for Martino's forthcoming 'STUDY SEMINAR' at the Vatican should help clarify the matter.

It is a list full of the extreme supporters of this technology. We provide
(in the second item below) a profile of a scientist who is speaking at the
Study Seminar and who is also is a Member of the Pontifical Academy of
Sciences. Even a friend describes him as 'in a certain sense a paid
traveling salesman for Monsanto'.

The perfect contributor to an event organised by  Renato Martino.

10 November 2003
9:00 - 9:30:  Introduction by His Eminence Renato R. MARTINO
First Session:  GMOs and Scientific Research
Panel Chair:  Professor Francesco SALAMINI, Director of the Max Plank Institute for Biotechnology
9:30 - 10:15:  GMOs and the Contribution of the Scientific World
a)Professor Francesco SALA, University of Milan
b)Professor Nan Hai CHUA, Plant Molecular Biology, Rockefeller University, New York
c)Professor Harry A. KUIPER, Wageningen University, Netherlands
10:15 - 11:00:   Discussion
11:00 - 11:30:  Break
Panel Chair:  His Excellency Bishop Marcelo SANCHEZ SORONDO, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences
11:30 - 12:00:  The Contribution of the Pontifical Academy for Life and of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on GMOs
a)Professor Giuseppe BERTONI, Director of the Institute of Zootechnia,
Catholic University/ Department of Agrarian Sciences in Piacenza
b)Professor Peter RAVEN, Director of the Botanical Gardens in Missouri, Member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences
12:00 - 13:00:  Discussion
Presentation by the Minister of Instruction, University and Scientific
Second Session:  GMOs, Food and Trade
Panel Chair:  :
15:00 - 15:45:  GMOs and Food in Developed and Developing Countries
a)Professor Zhangliang CHEN, University of Beijing
b)Professor Giuseppe ROTILIO, University of Tor Vergata, Rome
c)Professor Ajay PARIDA,  Swaminathan Research Foundation, India
15:45 - 16:30: Discussion
16:30 - 17:00: Break
Panel Chair:  Dr. Rubens RICUPERO, Director General of United Nations Centre for Trade and Development
17:00 - 17:30:  GMOs and Trade
a)Dr. Amedeo TETI, Director General of the Italian Ministry for Foreign
b)Professor Jennifer Ann THOMSON, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Cape Town, South Africa
17:30 -18:30:  Discussion
Presentation by the Minister of Agriculture
11 November 2003
Third Session:  GMOs and Environmental and Health Security
Panel Chair:
9:00 - 9:45:  GMOs and Environmental Security
a)Professor Alfonso HERRERA ESTRELLA, University of Mexico City
b)Professor Andrea CRISANTI, Molecular Parasitology, Department of Biology, Imperial College, London
c)Professor Gian Tommaso SCARASCIA MUGNOZZA, President of the National Academy of Sciences of the 60's
9:45 - 10:30:  Discussion
10:30 - 11:00:  Break
Panel Chair:  Professor Enrico GARACI, President of the National Institute of Health, Italy
11:00 - 11:45:  GMOs and Health Security
a)Professor Giuliano D'AGNOLO, President of the Inter-Ministerial Commission on Biotechnology
11:45 - 13:00:  Discussion
Presentation by the Minister of the Environment and Guardian of the Land and the Minister of Health
Fourth Session:  GMOs and the Ethical Perspective
Panel Chair:  His Excellency Bishop Elio SGRECCIA, Vice-President of the Pontifical Academy for Life
15:00 - 15:45:  GMOs and the Social Doctrine of the Church
a)Professor P. Gonzalo MIRANDA, Chairman of the Department of Bioethics, Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum
b)Professor Vincenza MELE, Bioethics Centre of the Catholic University of Sacred Heart - Rome
15:45 - 16:30:  Discussion
16:30 - 17:00:  Break
17:00 - 18:00:  Conclusions
Peter Raven

Peter Raven is the Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden and a past
President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has been a recipient of numerous awards and honours. Time magazine honoured him for his tireless championing of conservation and biodiversity as a  'Hero for the Planet'.

Although Raven is passionately concerned about the extinction of living
organisms  - warning that two-thirds of the world's species may be gone by the middle of the next century, his solution to a problem brought on by
carelessness and commerce, is simple - the mastery of biology allied to the power and efficiency of corporations. 'Major companies will be, are, a major factor if we are going to win world sustainability,' he told a journalist, and the commercial development and acceptance of GM crops is something he's convinced sustainable agriculture requires.

It's an issue on which he comes out fighting. In May 2003, speaking at the Natural History Museum in London, Raven attacked Greenpeace over its opposition to GMOs, telling his audience, 'Last month, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), one of America's most venerable and respected civil rights groups, confronted Greenpeace at a public event and accused it of "eco-manslaughter" through its support of international policies limiting development and the expansion of technology to the developing world's poor'.

In fact, the once respected CORE is widely regarded as having been hi-jacked during the 1970s by elements that have since used it as a Republican right pro-corporate lobby.

If Raven is hard on Greenpeace, he's less critical when it comes to
Monsanto. 'There is nothing I'm condemning Monsanto for,' he says. And he's praised the company's efforts to win public acceptance for GMOs, 'The company has . . . won many more believers around the world in what they're doing and attempting to do.'

An old friend of Raven's, geneticist Wes Jackson, says of him, 'I just wish
Peter was more reflective... The fact that living substance, germplasm, can become the property of a corporation is going to come at a cost. I think the boundaries of consideration need to be broader than Peter's willing to make them. In a certain sense he's a paid traveling salesman for Monsanto .'

Raven has good reason to smile on the company. According to Time magazine, 'When Raven first came to the garden in 1971, he had 85 employees and a budget of $650,000. Today there are 354 people on staff, and the budget is $20 million.' That expansion has been assisted by millions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and substantial corporate support, not least from Monsanto.

The Garden, in fact, is based in Monsanto's home town of St. Louis.
According to Raven there are other reasons for the strength of Monsanto's support.  Although, 'we don't do biotech work other than bioprospecting', he says, 'The basic research we do here at the Garden makes us a major resource for the biotechnology industry'. Raven, together with Monsanto, was also the driving force behind a nearby plant biotech research institute on whose board he sits.

The Raven-Monsanto equation includes the Garden's  multimillion-dollar
research centre - The Monsanto Center. And it doesn't stop there as the St Louis' paper, The Riverside Times, noted in 1999, 'The Garden received $3 million from Monsanto in their last fundraising campaign... Monsanto also contributed land and a large chunk of the $146 million startup money for the Danforth Plant Science Center [a project Raven was instrumental in getting off the ground]. Monsanto matches its employees' contributions to the Garden ($225,000 last year) and contributes to the operating fund ($25,000 last year). Trustees give privately, too, and in past years the Garden has had Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro, Monsanto vice president Tom K. Smith and Monsanto research-and-development director Howard Schneiderman on its
governing board. Now the Garden is collaborating with Monsanto's nutrition sector on a food library, collecting samples of all plants used worldwide as foods and medicines. (The World Resources Institute lists Monsanto as a bioprospector since 1989 and lists its collector, as of 1993, as the Missouri Botanical Garden.) When Confluence, an environmental quarterly, criticized Monsanto, the Garden's PR woman pulled it from their literature table.'

At the time that was written, Raven's wife was Monsanto's Director of Public Policy, Kate Fish, leading to jokes that even  Raven's sex life came corporate-sponsored.

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