In his annual message for World Food Day, Pope Francis contrasted the “wisdom of rural communities” with “the logic of consumerism and production at any cost, a logic that, cloaked in good justifications, such as the increasing population, is in reality aimed solely at the increase of profit.”
Genetically modified organisms of any type should go through a rigorous testing process. A number of countries have banned GMO foods. People are more important than profits.
Only large-scale efforts to combat climate change that require the most serious polluters to add technology to reduce CO2 levels in emissions are the big roadblock. Again, profits are more important than people.
Some companies are working on capturing carbon dioxide and using it to make things, but again, profits matter more for some of the wealthiest.
Due respect to His Holiness but he is just parroting anti-GMO propaganda. The anti-GMO activists have succeeded in scaring the public with their talk about “Frankenfoods” with lies.
Fortunately, I have seen a few packaged products in the US that directly state they contain non-GMO ingredients. I prefer to err on the side of caution.
The Pope, in his letter to the Food and Agriculture Organization, was concerned that ordinary farmers and consumers were being failed by modern agriculture. The scientific and technological advances seem to benefit the elites, and do not lead to increased food to those who need it most. His letter is a call for a change in priorities
- Those who are engaged in work in the fields, in farming, in small-scale fishing, or in the forests, or those who live in rural areas in direct contact with the effects of climate change, are aware that if the climate changes, their life changes too. Their daily lives are affected by difficult or at times dramatic situations, the future becomes increasingly uncertain and in this way the thought of abandoning homes and loved ones begins to arise. There is a prevalent sense of abandonment, the feeling of being abandoned by institutions, deprived of possible technical contributions or even of just consideration on the part of all those of us who benefit from their work.
Not precaution, then, but wisdom: what peasants, fisherman and farmers conserve in memory handed down through the generations and which is now derided and forgotten by a model of production that is entirely to the advantage of a limited group and a tiny portion of the world population. Let us remember that it is a model which, despite all its science, allows around eight hundred million people to continue to go hungry.
It is not enough to be upset or moved by those who, at every latitude, ask for their daily bread. Decisions and action are needed. Very often, also as the Catholic Church, we have reiterated that the level of world production is sufficient to ensure food for all, provided that distribution is equitable. But can we still continue along this line, if market logic follows other routes, to the point of making food products a commodity like any other, to use produce increasingly for non-food uses, or to destroy food for the simple fact that there is excess in relation to profit and not to need?
Pope Francis is not condemning genetically-modified foods so much as criticizing technological changes as not relieving, and perhaps worsening, the perennial food crisis in the world.
As strange as it may seem to the environmentalists here on CAF, I do not particularly deny climate change; only that it is manifestly not happening where I live or anywhere near where I live, and for decades. But I think there’s a reason for that.
Elsewhere in the world, I don’t much doubt there is climate change, and I don’t doubt it’s pretty widespread. I think that because I am aware much of the globe is desertifying due to severe mismanagement of the environment. There is absolutely no question that mismanagement is causing a lot of desertification. Huge areas of China, for example, are desertifying because the land isn’t being used properly. Huge areas of sub-Saharan AFrica are too (though there has been some small improvement recently). A lot of Russia is desertified for the same reason. Undoubtedly, there are many, many other places where it’s happening.
And, I believe, that’s why there is no climate change where I live. Land management has improved immensely in the last several decades. So, for example, we no longer have the drought severity and consequent blast-furnace summer heat we had during the 1930s and the 1950s.
Some work has been done to reverse desertification, but if I had to make a bet, I would bet it’s getting progressively worse.
I realize you believe this, and I wouldn’t disagree with you that sometimes profit motives interfere with proper management of the environment. But I’m not at all persuaded it’s a CO2 problem, or even that climate change is universal.
I recall, for example, reading a study by some agricultural PhDs at Texas A&M who figured out that if even all of America’s grasslands were properly managed, they would eat up all the CO2 this country produces. Just the grasslands.
It is so politically incorrect to believe what I believe that I won’t belabor it here. But you might find this interesting. It takes a few minutes to watch, but it’s very interesting to me. If this guy is only half right, we’re really going down some wrong paths when it comes to climate change.
Wasn’t he more interested in the monopolistic, profit-based policies that are detrimental to individual farmers, and not the scientific basis of genetic engineering?
I prefer my food was not altered in a lab to be resistent to pests, creating more resistence to herbicides, resulting in the use of MORE of these chemicals. Organic farming is fine…its the way farming was done for 1000s of years.
Did God create pesticide or did man?
One of the main problems I have is with the companies creating plants that won’t reproduce or by suing farmers that try to save part of their yield to turn into seed for the next year especially in poor countries.
Man has been genetically altering food ever since he learned how to breed animals.
I want a solid definition here.
What exactly is defined as genetic alteration?
If the whole world changed to organic farming, one nasty side effect would be that BILLIONS of people would starve to death. Improved seeds, pesticides, irrigation, and fertilizers are responsible for the fact that 1% of Americans can produce all the food we need and export to other countries. 100 years ago a third of Americans were farmers. Further improvements should be welcomed if you want worldwide standards of living to rise above subsistence farming and the regular famines that existed in the past.
Even the US government under progressives like Obama has published studies that organic food has no discernible health benefits, but costs consumers 2-3 times non-organics.
The principle of considering long term viability of the soil, as well as the economic impact of GMO’s on the poor across the world is something we sometimes neglect. Economic motivation alone cannot drive genetic enhancements. However, openness to new life mandates that we consider how to feed that life after it is born. Farming methods from the time when we were an agrarian people worked when we had a population that was lower by an order of magnitude and high mortality rates. GMO’s are also a pro-life issue. Food is essential for life, and lots of people requires a lot of food.
The problem of hunger is not a lack of food, but a lack of logistics. Many areas don’t have the roads and other infrastructure to accommodate transportation of food, medicine, and other necessities. The problem is that creating that infrastructure contributes to climate change. You can’t transport food, doctors, medicine, etc without burning fossil fuels. You can’t construct roads without burning fossil fuels. Feed the world or fight climate change, you can’t do both.
BTW - is anybody else troubled by the fact that the Pope’s words could be seen as supporting population control? I’m not saying he’s is, but his words could certainly be interpreted that way.
How about letting it go to feed the plants and trees?
Just check the deforestation data and plant loss in the Amazon. Are people planting trees? Farmers are paid billions of dollars in the US through farm subsidies to grow nothing. Nothing. Because if the US consumes 13 billion bushels of corn per year, producing more will drive down the price.
Logistics has nothing to do with feeding the poor. You have a market and you buy trucks, build roads and burn all the fossil fuels you want to make a buck. You want cheap labor in China - turn your back on American workers. And this happens:
So, I don’t trust GMO foods. Period.
Not sure about the genetically modified part.
Bananas only grow in the tropics. In order to export bananas to temperate and frigid regions, it is necessary to modify the plants.
There are many different banana varieties.
But the naturally occurring varities do not travel well.
People in the more northerly areas do need fresh fruit.
And people in the tropics can use the cash from selling fruit.
Seems to work out pretty well … been going on for more than a hundred years.
Where I live, there is a grass that, like some GMOs, contains a pesticide. It’s in very wide use. The difference is that it’s naturally occurring. It’s an organism that colonizes fescue grass and makes it toxic to insects.
Cattle eat it, sometimes with no ill effect, and sometimes with some ill effect. Ranchers are modifying the genetics of cattle to make them fescue toxin resistant, all by trial-and-error breeding. And it works.
I am not persuaded putting insect-killing or disrupting genes into food plants is any worse than simply planting fescue grass that has its own toxicity mechanism. Nor am I persuaded trial-and-error genetic breeding of the cattle is any less hazardous than any other genetic modification.
Oh yes, and walnut trees, of which there are a great many in my state, contain a natural herbicide that kills everything beneath the tree except certain grasses. That’s part of the reason why walnut groves are so pretty. Not quite like Roundup that kills everything, but it’s a selective killer like 2-4-D that’s in a lot of commercial herbicides.
So, are we going to ban walnut trees?