As the debate over whether or not GMOs are fit for public consumption waxes hotter all over the world, the Catholic Church has been conspicuously silent on whether or not it endorses this biotechnology.
Despite this attempt to remain publicly neutral, WikiLeaks recently uncovered a transmission from Christopher Sandrolini, a U.S. diplomat to the Holy See, that demonstrates the Vatican’s clandestine approval of genetically modified crops.
“Recent conversations between Holy See officials and USAID and EB representatives visiting the Vatican confirmed the cautious acceptance of biotech food by the Holy See. Vatican officials asserted that the safety and science of genetically modified foods would eventually be non-issues at the Holy See” reads the memo.
GMO Journal’s Deniza Gertsberg writes that while in 2000, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences gave its preliminary approval, and more recently, some of its vocal members have openly endorsed GMOs, the Holy See, in its public communiqués, always went the way of Switzerland.
Despite the transmission’s startling dismissal of scientific research that points to GMO’s dangerous health and environmental impacts, it does acknowledge that their widespread adoption would be disastrous for farmers, especially those in developing nations.
“…the main issue for the Church will continue to be the economic angle of biotech food. Many in the Church fear that these technologies are going to make developing-world farmers more dependent on others, and simply serve to enrich multi-national corporations,” the memo continues.
Gertsberg writes that rather than shocking anti-GMO advocates, the cables merely “reaffirmed what many already believed, namely that the Vatican supported GMOs and that a more hearty endorsement from the Holy See is likely in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, WikiLeaks cemented for many the understanding that US diplomats around the world are pushing GM crops as a strategic government and commercial imperative.”
Image: Vatican Gardens, circa 2009. Credit: Flickr - NH53