Monday, August 16, 1999 Published at 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Church tackles genetic engineering
The Presbyterian Church of Wales wants a ban on GM food
Leaders of one of Wales's biggest Christian denominations have called for a ban on the use of genetically-modified foods.
The English Association of the Presbyterian Church of Wales has called on the Government to put a moratorium on the use of genetically modified ingredients in human and animal food.
The group says there should be clear and informative labelling of products to provide some protection for those want to make a choice over eating it or not.
That call was led by Conservative Nick Bourne, who is currently favourite to lead the Tory group on the Assembly, following the resignation of Rod Richards.
The secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Wales's social issues committee, former Clwyd county council chief executive Mervyn Phillips of Mold, said the association shared the concern of the majority of people about the safety of food products.
"Scientific experience in recent years shows the need to be sure about safety before changing the nature of the products we use," he said.
He said the church also had special concern about the ethics of mixing the genes from different species.
As a response, the church is organising a weekend conference to discuss the issues at Coleg Trefeca in Powys in September led by Dr Fiona Liddell, joint warden of the college.
Dr Liddell said at the weekend: "Some questions just won't go away. DNA is here to stay and our knowledge of its secrets is expanding at a formidable rate.
"Before long, scientists working on the Human Genome Project will have mapped out every section of the 23 pairs of human chromosomes and identified the effects of every human gene.
"We cannot turn the clock back, we have powerful knowledge at our fingertips.
"But how do we use this knowledge as faithful stewards of God's creation in the service of our fellow human beings?
"That question is our challenge. Scientists alone should not be left to answer it on our behalf."
"What is our attitude to creation and our relationship to other creatures? Who benefits from the genetic modification of plants and animals?
"What does it mean to be human? Who decides for example what it is to be normal and healthy, and how far is at all is it appropriate to temper with somes genetic material in order to ensure them a better or more "normal" quality of life? These are the questions we will be addressing," she said.