Date Added to website 24th July 2015
Pope Francis Slams GMOs and Pesticides for Environmental and Social Damage
[Comment: Good for Pope Francis! The religious leaders — of all faiths — have been very slow to enter this debate, partly because they have been put under intense diplomatic pressure by the GMO /agrichemical industries and by the US and other governments. But the Christian understanding of the word “stewardship” is a very important part of the faith, and it's great that Pope Francis is now prepared to explain it in terms of a global responsibility to look after the poor, to look after the environment and to maintain the purity of food and water. The GMO industry, and its acolytes, bang on all the time, quite cynically, about GMOs being needed to “feed the world” in a future full of uncertainties. It’s nonsense. of course, and the Pope’s intervention at this stage is of vast significance.]
Pope Francis slams both GMOs and pesticides in a draft of his major environmental document that was leaked Monday. He has also called for the financing of independent and interdisciplinary research to study GMOs.
You can find the full draft document here (In Italian): speciali.espresso.repubblica.it/pdf/laudato_si.pdf
On the subject of GMOs Pope Francis states; “It is difficult to give an overall judgment on the development of genetically modified organisms (GMO), plant or animal, for medical purposes or in agriculture, since they can be very different and require different considerations.”
He continues; “Although we do not have definitive evidence about the damage that transgenic cereals could cause to humans, and in some regions their use has produced economic growth that has helped solve some problems, there are significant problems that should not be minimized. In many areas, following the introduction of these crops, there has been a concentration of productive land in the hands of the few, due to the gradual disappearance of small producers, who, as a consequence of the loss of cultivated land, have been forced to retreat from direct production.
“The most fragile among them become temporary workers and many farm workers migrate to end up in miserable urban settlements. The spread of these (GM) crops destroys the complex web of ecosystems, decreases diversity in production and affects the present and the future of regional economies. In several countries there is a trend in the development of oligopolies in the production of seeds and other products needed for cultivation, and the dependence deepens when you consider the production of sterile seeds, which end up forcing farmers to buy (seeds) from producers.”
“No doubt there is a need for constant attention…to consider all ethical aspects involved. To this end it is necessary to ensure a scientific and social debate that is responsible and large, able to consider all the information available and to call things by their names.
“GMOs is an issue which is complex, it must be approached with a sympathetic look at all its aspects, and this requires at least one more effort to finance several lines of independent and interdisciplinary research… as we have seen in this chapter, the technique is unlikely to be able to …self-limit its power.”
On pesticides Pope Francis states; “We get sick, for example, due to inhalation of large amounts of smoke produced by fuels used for cooking and heating. This is added to by….fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and toxic pesticides in general. Technology that is linked to finance, claims to be only solving problems…this solves a problem by creating others.
“It creates a vicious circle in which the intervention of the human being to solve a problem often worsens the situation further. For example, many birds and insects die out as a result of toxic pesticides created by technology, they are useful to agriculture itself, and their disappearance will be compensated with another technological intervention that probably will bring new harmful effects… looking at the world we see that this level of human intervention, often in the service of finance and consumerism, actually causes the earth we live in to become less rich and beautiful, more and more limited and gray, while at the same time the development of technology and consumerism continues to advance without limits.”
Pope Francis: We can end world hunger if we want to
Christian Today, 12 June 2015
Pope Francis has called for a new focus on global hunger in a major address to delegates from the international Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome.
In a hard-hitting speech, he warned against the tendency to "delegate" and "desert" in the face of the problem. He spoke of a "generic resignation" and "indifference" to hunger, as if it were unavoidable. "Sometimes one has the sensation that hunger is an unpopular topic, an insoluble problem," he said.
However, Francis argued that a lack of will was behind the continuing lack of food security in many parts of the world and said that it was possible to tackle the issue.
He instanced food speculation, responsible for high prices that hit the poor hardest. The products of the earth "have a value that we can say is 'sacred', given that they are the fruit of the daily work of persons, families, communities of farmers – a work that is often dominated by uncertainties, worries over climatic conditions, anxieties over the possible destruction of the harvest", he said.
He also spoke of the shocking waste of food – standing at around a third of everything produced globally – and said it was important to reflect on the use of crops for biofuels and feeding animals: "It is worrying to know that a good quantity of agricultural products is used for other ends, perhaps good ends, but which are not the immediate need of one who is hungry."
Francis also warned against "monopolising of lands of cultivation by trans-national enterprises and states, which not only deprives farmers of an essential good, but which directly affects the sovereignty of countries". "There are already many regions in which the foods produced go to foreign countries and the local population is doubly impoverished, because it does not have food or land," he said.
"And what to say of the women who in many areas cannot possess the land they work, with an inequality of rights that impedes the serenity of family life, because the danger is run of losing the field from one moment to the other?" Most food production, he argued, was "in the main the work of family properties". He urged the FAO to support small-scale family enterprises through lobbying for better legislation.
The Pope urged a commitment to simpler lifestyles that would mean fewer resources were consumed, saying: "We must begin from our daily life if we want to change lifestyles, conscious that our little gestures can ensure sustainability and the future of the human family."
He concluded: "Let us modify our relation with the natural resources, the use of the soil, let us modify our consumption, without falling into the slavery of consumerism; let us eliminate waste and thus we will overcome hunger."
In another sign of the Pope's commitment to the poor, he is to open a homeless shelter on the edge of Vatican City in Rome. The shelter, which is still under construction, will host 30 people at a time and will be run by volunteers. It follows an earlier initiative to provide showers, haircuts and shaves under the colonnade of St Peter's Square.
Earlier this month Francis donated money to allow two busloads of poor people to travel from Rome to see the Shroud of Turin. He has also invited homeless people to a private viewing of the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel.
GM Watch Comment:
Pope Francis’s open-eyed vision of the problems caused by GMOs and pesticides is in stark contrast with the ludicrous hype generated by GMO proponents in 2013 around the Pope giving “his personal blessing” to GMO golden rice. In fact it was far from clear if he knew exactly what he was blessing and this act cannot be claimed to be an endorsement of this GMO or GMOs in general. It’s now evident that Pope Francis will not fall for the lie that we need GMOs to feed the world. He states that the problem of hunger could be solved through political will and tackling food speculation and food waste.