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Pope Francis indicated his general position on genetic modification in a May 2015 encyclical (sections 130-136). His position was essentially that each application should be evaluated on its own merits, appropriate environmental risk assessments should be used, the environment should be respected, and that in specific cases (such as the use of GM crops) there is a significant risk that the use of GM organisms could create or exacerbate economic inequalities.

Various technologies are in development or production which are intended to use genetically modified mosquitoes to control human disease such as Zika and dengue (example). In many cases the communities where these releases would occur are primarily Catholic. Has Pope Francis at any point indicated a position specifically on the deliberate release of GM mosquitoes for the control of human diseases?

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. Interesting question. We'll see if anyone has any information on that. Meanwhile, for more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. – Lee Woofenden Jun 14 '17 at 17:31
  • @leeWoofenden Thanks! I already use a number of the other SEs (as you might be able to guess from the question topic, mainly Biology.SE). I'm a complete newcomer to Christianity.SE but it seemed like the right place for this one. – tardigrade Jun 14 '17 at 17:50
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    @Geremia The question does ask whether he's specifically discussed mosquitoes. Perhaps that's not discussed in the document. – Matt Gutting Jun 15 '17 at 13:25
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    This answer is definitely on-topic on this site. It is not "primarily opinion-based." It asks a very specific question about whether Pope Francis has issued a statement on a specific subject. Regardless of whether the answer is "yes" or "no," this is a factual question, not an opinion-based one. – Lee Woofenden Jun 15 '17 at 16:18
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    The Brazilian Bishops' Conference has addressed the Zika crisis and has called the Church in Brazil to "wage war" on the mosquito, but hasn't mentioned (yet) the transgenic mosquitos which are being released. Obviously, the microcephaly and related abortions have been mentioned (and the latter condemned) by the Brazilian bishops, which has nothing to do with the GM mosquitos. – Wtrmute Jun 20 '17 at 19:55
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The Holy Father has not, to my knowledge, released a position on the Zika crisis in Brazil; much less on the experimental use of GM mosquitoes to fight it. The Brazilian Bishops' Conference, on the other hand, released a statement (reported in a Brazilian Catholic news site, in Portuguese) on the Zika crisis, mentioning the need to "wage war" on the mosquito.

They have not publicly commented on the GM mosquito plan, but no bishop has spoken out against it, either.

Here is a translation of the note:

MESSAGE FROM CNBB ON THE FIGHT AGAINST AEDES AEGYPTI

“so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live.” (Is 38:16b)

The Pastoral Episcopal Council (CONSEP), from the National Bishops' Conference of Brazil — CNBB, gathered together in Brasília–DF, in the 3rd and 4th days of February 2016, calls upon the whole of the Church in Brazil to continue and intensify her mobilization to combat the mosquito Aedes aegypti, agent for Dengue fever, Zika and Chikungunya virus. With a great collective effort, which involves all sectors of society, we will be able to defeat these diseases that affect, without distinction, the entire Brazilian population.

The Zika virus deserves special attention due to its probable link to microcephaly, although this has not yet been proven scientifically. The fravity of the situation has caused the World Health Organization to declare the microcephaly and the Zika virus international emergencies. The state of alert, however, must not lead us into panic, as if we were facing an invincible situation, in spite of its extreme gravity. Neither does it justify defending abortion for the microcephaly cases as, unfortunately, is the proposal of certain groups which are organising to take the issue before the Supreme Federal Tribunal in complete disrespect of the gift of life.

Let it be guaranteed, urgently, the assistance to those afflicted with these infirmities, particularly to the children who are born with microcephaly and their families. Health, God's gift and everyone's right, must be assured, in the first place, by public administrators. To them falls the implementation of policies which point to a public health system which both is universal and has good quality. In this direction, the Ecumenical Fraternity Campaign for this year contributes a good deal by bringing up the shameful reality of basic sanitation in Brazil. Without an effective national policy for basic sanitation, the whole effort in combatting Aedes aegypti is compromised.

The commitment of each citizen is also essential to the task of eradicating this evil which defies our institutions. The principle of everything is education and co-responsibility. For that reason, we exhort the leaderships of our ecclesial communities to organise actions which add to the initiatives which intend to put an end to this situation. The actions for which the public sector is responsibe should be demanded and their progress must be accompanied. In celebrations and meetings, may clear and objective orientations be given so as to help people to become conscious of the gravity of the situation and also of the best way to fight these diseases and their agent. With everyone's effort, victory shall not elude us.

May God, in His infinite mercy, make health spread through all the Earth (cf. Sir 38:8). May Our Lady of Aparecida, mother and patroness of Brazil, help us in our evangelic commitment to promote and defend life.

Brasília, 4 February 2016

Dom Sergio da Rocha
Archbishop of Brasília-DF
President of CNBB

Dom Murilo S. R. Krieger
Archbishop of São Salvador da Bahia-BA
Vice-presidente of CNBB

Dom Leonardo Ulrich Steiner
Auxiliary Bishop of Brasília-DF
Secretary-General of CNBB

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