Holy Crops! Pope Backs Genetically Modified Foods

By Allison Bond | June 4, 2009 1:28 pm

PopeHave you ever held a genetically modified tomato and wondered, “Would the Pope eat this?” Well, here’s your answer: The Vatican has announced that it endorses the growth of genetically modified crops as a possible way to alleviate world hunger.

Given the papacy’s generally-hands-off approach to God’s creations, the decision to back genetically altered crops might seem surprising. In fact, because the environmental and health consequences of genetically modified foods remain largely unknown, they remain controversial in many circles, not just among Catholics.

On the other hand, these foods may just have the potential to grow heartier crops, or plants with added vitamins—such as rice with Vitamin A and iron—that could help feed the millions of starving people worldwide.

The Pope’s scientists admit that today’s regulations of genetically modified crops mean that only multinational corporations can control the market, making it impossible for non-profit organizations to get approval to produce plants to feed the poor.  Which is too bad, because getting food to those who need it could be one scenario where the pros of genetically modified foods outweigh the cons.

Related Content:
Discoblog: Vatican Science: Pope Blames Male Infertility on…the Pill
Discoblog: Darwin Tangles With Religion, Part II: Clergyman Defenestrated
Discoblog: Live from the Biggest Science Conference in the World: First GMOs, Now Pharming?

Image: flickr / filip1

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Food, Nutrition, & More Food
  • MarkD

    Wow, not too bad! Slow but sure progress from the Vatican
    First it’s Evolution is not incompatible with Christianity, now GM foods. Just have to work on that condom thing next.

    I have big hopes for genetically modified crops and radiation treating food to sterilize it. But as soon and anyone mentions genetics or radiation people completely freak out. The food isn’t radioactive, you just aren’t going to get sick from it because it’s sterile. I bet the peanut and lettuce industry wished they had been using it. As far as genetically modified food, when you eat it, the DNA of the food breaks down in your stomach acid. If we absorbed DNA from food we would all have corn silk for hair and cow udders.

    I just hope that new vitamin rich/drought resistant foods are made available soon freely to poor countries.

  • Chris H

    I’m sorry to have to briong to your attention that your statement is way more absolute than the article you refer to actually says. A summary: a week was held at the academy of the vatican where many speakers were invited who happen to endorse GM. Most speeches focused on the problem of what they feel is too strict regulation.

    The pope himself has not endorsed the conclusions of these people. In the working document for the 2nd synodal convention for Africa the invasion of Africa by multinationals is explicitly criticies, including the gm-seed campaign. (Source: St Columbus Mission Society website)

    An African bisshop who was invited to the week had some inkling of being used for a campaign and noted the lack of balance in the arguments (see National Catholic Reporter “Two sides of Rome, two sides on GMOs” ).

    Hope this helps…

  • Schiller Thurkettle

    This is a very confusing article.

    I’ve never heard anything about the “papacy’s generally-hands-off approach to God’s creations”. Since we are God’s creations, and live among God’s creations, it seems like we (as humans) have no choice but to take a “hands-on” approach to creations. I mean, what else are we gonna do? Pretty obvious, but I’ve never heard the Church say anything one way or the other on this. Maybe because it’s too obvious.

    The part about “the Pope’s scientists admit” is odd. Are they his employees? Looking at the list of who showed up for the Vatican meeting, it looks like they’re from all over, and employed totally elsewhere.

    Then there’s the claim that “the environmental and health consequences of genetically modified foods remain largely unknown”. Anyone who can Google a topic can easily discover that these foods have been studied more intensely than any other in history.

    Pretty sensational article, though. That’s probably the point. Heck, it got me to show up and comment!

    But sensationalism really isn’t apropos of a publication titled “Discover”. There’s nothing new here, folks, move along…

  • Ian

    Bad article – reported from another popular science magazine I note. This a study week faciliated by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, sponsored by the Vatican but independent, and not any pronouncements from the Vatican or indeed the Pope for that matter.

    The PAS hold study weeks almost every year – heck your magazine even ran a story on the PAS in Sept 2008, called ‘Teaching the Pope Science’ I think. You’d think you would know better.

  • http://www.deviledegg.org/ Deviled Egg

    Big shocker here.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »