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Playing God or Improving Human Lives?
Religious, Moral and Ethical Perspectives on Food Biotechnology

A Collection of articles and postings from the AgBioView Newsletter

God and the New Foodstuffs
Genetically modified organisms are generating a good deal of scientific and economic debate.

GMOs and Science: What have we learned?
Speech given by Peter Raven during the ongoing debates at the Vatican conference concerning genetically modified organisms.

Bovine Romaine with Ranch dressing
Thoughtful vegetarians should resist being co-opted by the anti-biotech movement.

Why Biotech Foods Are Kosher
The conclusion of this Rabbinical Board was that biotech foods do not present any Kashruth problems because non-kosher genes are not implanted into the plants.

Rabbi Avram I. Reisner: Grappling with Sticky Issues
Rabbi Avram Reisner has a natural appetite for thorny issues. So when the question was raised of whether genetic modifications to foods might make some kosher foods non-kosher, he tackled it.

Are GMO's Halal?
Yes, today's biotechnology products are approved as Halal. According to the Islamic Jurisprudence Council (IJC), foods derived from biotechnology-improved (GMO) crops are halal - fit for consumption by Muslims.

Muslim council approves GM foods
Indonesia's leading authority on Islamic affairs has given the go-ahead for the consumption of imported genetically modified organism (GMO) foods, one of its members said yesterday.

Report Charges Zambian Jesuit Center with Dishonesty About Biotechnology
A new report by European and American scholars challenges the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection’s support for Zambia’s refusal of food aid containing genetically modified corn.

Vatican Calls for Honesty on Biotechnology: "Don't Fear Scientific Progress"
From the Pontifical Academy For Life.

Vatican says GM food is a Blessing
THE Vatican has stunned opponents of genetically modified foods by declaring they hold the answer to world starvation and malnutrition.

The Catholic Church is Right to Support Genetically Modified Crops
Archbishop Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said the Vatican would publish a report next month endorsing genetic modification of plants as the best way to feed the world's starving.

Biotechnology Seen as a Key Help for Developing Countries
Biotechnology can become a decisive weapon in the struggle against hunger and environmental pollution, say scientists who participated in a meeting of Philippine bishops here.

The Catholic Church is Not against the Use of Biotechnology
in Agriculture But Simply Advocates Prudence and Regulation

Overall the Church has a cautious but supportive position on agricultural biotechnology, and is the position what most agricultural scientists and policy makers embrace - move forward with the technology but with adequate safeguards.

Feeding a Hungry World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology
By Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences; Presentation made at the conference "Feeding a Hungry World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology" on September 24, 2004 organized by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See in cooperation with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy

The Use of 'Genetically Modified Food Plants' to Combat Hunger in the World
Study-Document from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, September, 2004.

The Concept Of Natural: Implications For Biotechnology Regulation
In this paper, I will explore this concern that the genetic modification of organisms is unnatural as a reflection of competing concepts about the natural world.

The Church of England Statement on Genetically Modified Organisms
Foodstuffs have been derived from genetically modified plants and animals ever since the time when agriculture began and selective breeding turned wild cereals into cultivated crops and wild animals into domesticated herds.

GMOs, God and the Prince of Wales
We write to challenge the comments Prince Charles continues to make about GMOs and we hope he stops commenting on a subject he clearly knows nothing about.

An open letter from Biologist Richard Dawkins to Prince Charles
What saddens me most, Sir, is how much you will be missing if you turn your back on science.

Defeatism Lurks Behind The Sloganeering
"Playing God" and "messing with nature" are defeatist slogans. They don't just attack the examples at which they are directed; they are an attempt to undermine the tree of our society at its root - for they are not just a criticism, they are an exhortation not to try to understand.

GM Crops Make Ethical Sense, Says Pence
A progressive approach using GM crops "will play a goodly part in a milestone in human history: eliminating mass starvation".

GM crops - Outside God's Will?
Excerpts of talk delivered by Prof. Joe Perry of the Rothamsted Experiment Station in UK at the XVth 'Christ and the Cosmos' Conference on Genetic Engineering.

Vatican Mulls View Change on GMO
The Vatican appears to be reversing its opposition to the use of genetically modified foods, unexpectedly thrusting the Holy See into the debate on the subject raging between the United States and the European Union.

Genetically Manipulated Plants: Ethical and Religious Issues
This contribution to the debate on genetically modified foods focuses on genetic manipulations of flowering plants aimed at improving crops and manufacturing medical products; it does not describe methodologies or progress toward producing such transgenic crops.

Is Genetically Modified Food A Poison?
I am writing this response as a Jesuit plant breeder and a Jesuit Biotechnologist.

Religion, Genetic Engineering Can Coexist
A giant in the world of genetics argued last night in a speech at Memorial Church that genetic engineering is not incompatible with religion.

The Ethics of Food: A Reader for the Twenty-First Century
In The Ethics of Food, Gregory E. Pence brings together a collection of voices who share the view that the ethics of genetically modified food is among the most pressing societal questions of our time.

Theologian in the house
The notion that biotechnology is "playing God" and therefore forbidden (or at least, wrong in some sense) has constantly puzzled me. Is there scriptural or doctrinal authority which supports such a claim?

A Brief for The Royal Commission on Genetic Modification of New Zealand
Is it ethically justifiable to pursue genetically modified crops and foods? The decision rests ultimately with the citizens of New Zealand who will use their conscience and reason to decide on the ethical questions.

Genetic Engineering Evaluated from the Perspective of Christian and Ignatian Creation Spirituality
My position on the questions raised in the Introduction is that the evidence we have now does not support promotion of GMOs in agricultural systems.

Ethicists Ponder the Moral and Religious Questions Regarding Agricultural Biotechnology
Islam, Judaism, and Christianity concur that the process of genetically modifying plants or food animals is not in and of itself intrinsically wrong and may benefit mankind, says Judith N. Scoville, an ethicist at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin.

Views on Genetically Modified Food and Animals Differ by Religious Beliefs
Although the debate over genetic engineering of food and animals has focused mainly on relative benefits and risks, many Americans also have ethical or religious views that significantly affect the way they think about this new technology.