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Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Because food is a basic human right and because genetically modified, or transgenic, organisms (GMOs) have immense implications for the world’s food supply, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns believes that GMOs raise extremely important ethical and moral concerns. GMOs are created through high tech transfers of selected genetic material from one organism to another. The goal of this genetic engineering process is to create new varieties of plants and animals with chosen characteristics. While humans have intervened in the genetic development of plants and animals over the millennia, these new bio-engineered interventions are of a different order.

The natural world ­ as expressed in plants, seeds, animals, etc. ­ is not dependent upon the value humans place upon it, but rather, by its very existence, each dimension of Earth life has a right to be. It also has the right to make its contribution to the maintenance and celebration of the larger Earth community. Therefore, human interaction with the natural world is not a relationship of control over or dominance of, but rather, as members and co-creators of one community of life, the shared task is to advance the total Earth community. To understand this relationship of community, of an essential oneness in the great unfolding story of the universe, is to situate the whole human project in a posture of deep respect for and interaction with the natural world.

The Maryknoll Sisters’ in Africa released the following statement at their October 2005 World Section gathering: “We live on the African continent. We support the priorities of food production for African consumption and food security for the Continent. Improved seeds and genetic advances can be very positive. However, we do not support the short-term testing of genetically modified (GM) seeds or the rapid, profit-driven proliferation of such seeds without full and informed consent of those who will be affected. Wherever GM seeds are available they can impact the environment, especially through cross fertilization among locally used grain. Full disclosure of information on all seeds should be available in agricultural sales and coops and should be accompanied by public education about the issues involved. Bags or packages of GM seed should be clearly marked. There is no room for testing in the fragile environment of Africa, where famine is often close at hand.” (Maryknoll Sisters’ Africa World Section October 2005)

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