ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  14 November 2000


Given the previous complacency from the Vatican about ag-biotech, as opposed to human genetics, this strongly cautious message to an audience of farmers is encouraging, particularly given the recent powerful statement from Catholic bishops in South Africa:

Pope cautions about risks from new  agricultural technologies
- by Frances D'Emilio, Associated Press Writer, Vatican City- 12 November 2000
[shortened - left out the stuff about the pope's health]

Dedicating Sunday to the world's farmers, Pope John Paul II urged those developing new biotechnologies to keep a "healthy balance" with nature to avoid putting people's lives at risk.

Tens of thousands of farmers and their families, most of them from Italy but many from other countries and continents, crowded into St. Peter's Square on a chilly, overcast day to attend Mass celebrated by the pope on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica as part of a Holy Year tribute to the world of agriculture.

John Paul didn't cite any specific kind of biotechnology Sunday. But his words picked up on a speech he gave Saturday evening in which he urged rigorous scientific and ethical controls to avoid possible "disaster for the health of man and the future of the Earth" from new agricultural technologies.

On Sunday, the pope told the farmers in the square that "If the world of most refined techniques doesn't reconcile itself with the simple language of nature in a healthy balance, the life of man will run ever greater risks, of which already we are seeing worrying signs."...

Saying God entrusted land to mankind to take care of it, the pope said: "When you forget this principle, becoming tyrants and not custodians of the Earth, sooner or later the Earth rebels."

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