Sowing Ethics

Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, came to Des Moines, Iowa, to receive the World Food Prize on Oct. 16. The cardinal urged groups on both sides of the divide on bio-engineered and genetically modified food to engage in conversation and dialogue. Cardinal Turkson expressed support for biotechnology when it is married to ethics, compassion, morality and prudence. “In Catholic thought, ‘nature’ is neither sacred nor divine, neither to be feared nor to be revered and left untouched,” he said. “Rather, it is a gift offered by the Creator…entrusted to the intelligence and moral responsibility of men and women.” Agricultural practices that respect human dignity and the common good would include environmental monitoring, regulations, universal access and transparency to consumers, he said. “It is hazardous—and ultimately absurd, indeed sinful—to employ biotechnology without the guidance of deeply responsible ethics,” he said. He also warned of the consequences of denying the most impoverished segments of the population access to biotechnology.

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