(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged scientists and experts in biotechnologies to always be aware of the effects their decisions can have on human life and on creation.
The Pope was addressing members of the National Committee for Biosafety, Biotechnology and Life Sciences at an audience in the Vatican.
The main issues addressed by the Committee’s various working groups include: genetic testing, gene therapy, tissue engineering, development of biotechnology, cloning, Italian and European legislation, clinical trials, GMOs, infrastructure, information, genetic testing, biobanks, and bio nanotechnology.
Remarking on the fact that the themes and issues that the committee faces are of great importance for contemporary man, both as individuals and in relation to the social dimension, the Pope said: “your task is not only to promote the harmonious and integrated development of scientific and technological research that relates to the biological processes of plant, animal and human life”; you are also asked to predict and prevent the negative consequences that a distorted use of science and technology can result in when “they are used to manipulate life”.
Highlighting the principle of accountability which, the Pope said, is an essential cornerstone of human action, he said that various fields of technology and science put a “huge and growing power into the hands of man”.
“A grave risk is that citizens, and at times even those who represent and govern them, are not fully aware of the seriousness of the challenges that arise, of the complexities of the problems to be solved, and are in danger of misusing the power that sciences and biotechnologies put in their hands”.
Pope Francis said that when the connection between economic power and the power of technology is a strong one, interests can come into play; choices can be taken in light of possible profits for industrial and commercial groups to the detriment of populations and of the poorest nations.
“It is not easy to reach a harmonious composition of the different scientific, productive, ethical, social, economic and political realities that promotes a sustainable development that respects our ‘common home’” he said.
It is something that requires humility, courage and openness, he said, certain that the contribution given by men of science to truth and to the common good, contribute to the development of civil conscience.
Pope Francis reminded those present that sciences and technologies are made for man and for the world and not the opposite.
“May they be put to the service of dignified and healthy lives for all, now and in the future, and may they help render our common home more livable and supportive, more cared for and safe-guarded” he said.
The Pope concluded his address encouraging those present to initiate and sustain processes of consensus amongst scientists, technology experts, businessmen and representatives of the institutions, and to identify strategies to enhance public awareness on the issues raised by developments in Life Sciences and biotechnology.