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Open Access Highly Accessed Debate

The three main monotheistic religions and gm food technology: an overview of perspectives

Emmanuel B Omobowale1*, Peter A Singer23 and Abdallah S Daar24

Author Affiliations

1 Department of English, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

2 McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, University Health Network, Toronto, Canada

3 Dept of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

4 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Unversity of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

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BMC International Health and Human Rights 2009, 9:18  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-9-18

Published: 22 August 2009

Abstract

Background

Public acceptance of genetically modified crops is partly rooted in religious views. However, the views of different religions and their potential influence on consumers' decisions have not been systematically examined and summarized in a brief overview. We review the positions of the Judaism, Islam and Christianity – the three major monotheistic religions to which more than 55% of humanity adheres to – on the controversies aroused by GM technology.

Discussion

The article establishes that there is no overarching consensus within the three religions. Overall, however, it appears that mainstream theology in all three religions increasingly tends towards acceptance of GM technology per se, on performing GM research, and on consumption of GM foods. These more liberal approaches, however, are predicated on there being rigorous scientific, ethical and regulatory scrutiny of research and development of such products, and that these products are properly labeled.

Summary

We conclude that there are several other interests competing with the influence exerted on consumers by religion. These include the media, environmental activists, scientists and the food industry, all of which function as sources of information and shapers of perception for consumers.