A scientist pope and high-tech Catholicism: Column

21.03.2013

USA Today

Published 14 March 2013 by John Rigolizzo

When it comes to the technology of food production the Vatican remains true to its oldest principles while also standing at the forefront of science.

As Catholic cardinals selected Pope Francis in Rome on Wednesday, we watched an ancient church at its most medieval: obedient to tradition, cloaked in secrecy, and waiting for white smoke. The papal conclave appeared positively anti-modern.

Yet in another sense, the Vatican stands in the vanguard of science and technology. It's one of the world's strongest supporters of genetically modified (GM) crops.

Many of us are still trying to learn about the new pontiff. We know a few things already. He is not only a man of faith, but also science -- a chemist, by training. He's from Argentina, whose farmers rely heavily on GM crops. And he professes a concern for the poor, who have the most to gain from 21st-century food production.
 
Farmers of all religious persuasions should take comfort from these views. "He will be able to better understand the Latin American continent -- not only the poverty and the exclusion, but also the wealth of these lands," said Eugenio Lira, secretary-general of the Mexican Episcopal Conference, according to the Wall Street Journal.
 
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