Cardinal Turkson talks to both sides of GM food debate

Cardinal Turkson

Ghana's Cardinal Peter Turkson is in the middle of a genetically modified food fight, but he's determined not to let it get messy, reports NCR.

Card. Turkson will be in Des Moines, Iowa, next week to speak at the 2013 World Food Prize conference, in which three innovators of genetically modified organisms will be honored. The day before, though, he also will appear at an event hosted by the Occupy the World Food Prize campaign, which was created to oppose the use of GMOs.

Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told NCR that he and the rest of the council believe he could do the most good by accepting both invitations to speak, despite the opposing messages coming out of the two events. "We decided that we would respond to both of them to show that both of them need to be listened to," he said. "We didn't want to take sides."

He said he is trying to look at the issue of GMOs through a spiritual lens. 'I am not opposed to science and research, and I'm not opposed to improving the life of the human person,' the Cardinal said in a Sept. 3 interview. 'The benefits of science are for us, that's why God asked Adam to take care of the earth.

'But if science and research make it difficult for people to do just what is basic for their sustenance, then we would probably call for gratuitatis,' he emphasized, referring to Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate.

Pope Benedict called for more gratuitatis, or selfless giving, in our global society. He wrote, 'Economic, social and political development, if it is to be authentically human, needs to make room for the principle of gratuitousness [in Latin, gratuitatis] as an expression of fraternity.'

The World Food Prize was established in 1987 to honour that level of giving. Often referred to as the Nobel Prize of Agriculture, it honors people whose work has 'advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.' This year, however, many are questioning the three winners' altruism.

FULL STORY Cardinal Turkson talks to both sides of GM food debate

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