The Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) has encouraged the church to take a “precautionary” stance on investments in genetic modification (GM).
In an update of its policy on investing in genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the EIAG claims that companies developing GMOs will have to meet strict “ethical standards” and satisfactory criteria, such as transparent communication, monitoring of the risks, good purposes and so on.
James Featherby, chair of the EIAG, said, “The EIAG recognises the potential benefits of responsibly-conducted GM such as pest resistance, vitamin supply, and improved resilience to drought, frost and saline conditions.
“We are also conscious that genetic modification represents a paradigm shift in plant and animal breeding and that there remain uncertainties about the effects of the application of the technology.
“The EIAG concluded that it is important that the investment practice of the national investing bodies should be consistent with a careful and precautionary approach to genetic modification.”
GMOs remain a matter of controversy in Europe and across the world. The main arguments brought by opponents are the excessive manipulation of nature and the huge power given to biotechnologies companies that have patented seeds, for example.
In 2000, the EIAG was advising church landowners not to consider GM trials on their farmland. However, its updated policy paves the way to the cultivation of “acceptable” and “already well-established” GM crops on land owned by the national investing bodies.