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Press Release 13/05/09


Press release by Mr. Guido Pollice, President of Verdi Ambiente e Società,

and Ms. Fabrizia Pratesi, coordinator of Comitato Scientifico Equivita  



In relation to the GMO issue, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences increasingly resembles a marketing company, aimed at highlighting the benefits of a given product for the purpose of earning a profit for its customer.

While carefully avoiding any open debate, the Academy is organizing a study week in the Vatican, from the 15th  to the 19th of May, on the topic: “Transgenic Plants for Food Security in the Context of Development”, with a view to promoting GMOs and thus facilitating their acceptance among consumers.

By keeping the doors closed to all representatives of Civil Society committed to the issue of agro-biotechnologies and by selecting its speakers among the militant supporters of biotech, the aforesaid Academy proves to have lost their interest in science, the advancement of knowledge and in any open scientific debate.

Most of the scheduled lectures (see the abstracts on the Vatican’s Website) reassert the alleged “greater productivity” and “lower pollution" that patent-holders claim characterize transgenic plants (GM plants prevalently differ from conventional ones in that they have been privatized through the acquisition of patents covering all future offspring and producing royalties with each new sowing). These characteristics have not only been proven false, but have even been overturned by independent studies (1).

The outcomes of the study week are easily foreseeable. There will be no focus on the problems caused by pesticide-resistant GM plants (e.g. the invasion of super-weeds like Amaranthus palmeri in southern US) and no reference shall be made to the EU Regulation (13/01/09) that, in order to protect human health – increasingly menaced by the toxic substances used in agriculture - strictly prohibits the use of many pesticides (including glufosinate, a weed-killer used in close association with several GM plants).

In addition to the effects of GMOs on the environment and on human health, the study week is also bound to ignore all their social effects, even if they have been recorded to be serious enough to induce Pope Benedict XVI to state that: “The campaign to promote GM sowing, that pretends to grant food security […] risks to ruin small farmers and to suppress their traditional crops, making them dependent on GM production companies” (“Instrumentum laboris” document).

Likewise, no consideration shall be taken of all the appeals coming from numerous groups of Catholic Organizations working in favour of global justice and against hunger. This is exactly what just happened to CIDSE which, in a letter to the Pontifical Academy, raised its concern over the silence of the Catholic Church in Africa as well as over the negative impact of GMOs on the living standards in rural areas.

How does the Pontifical Academy of Sciences respond to all these problems? Simply with their silence, their disregard, their closed doors.

A sit-in is going to be held in Rome on Monday May 18th at 10.30 a.m to deliver proper information to citizens and media.

(1) A few examples: 

Report 2006 by Friends of the Earth “Who benefits from GM crops?” 

Report by IAASTD, International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology,  commissioned by the United Nations. 

Report “Failure to yield” by UCS, Union of Concerned Scientists. 

Documents by Charles Benbrook, former director for Agriculture in the Academy of Sciences of the USA.  


For further information:

Press Office of VAS:   063608181 – 329.1328437

Press Office of Equivita: 063220720 – 335.8444949

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