This is the full paper presented by the Jesuit priests Father Roland Lesseps SJ and Father Peter Henriot SJ at the International Symposium on “Genetically Modified Organisms, Threat or Hope?”, held in Rome 10-11 November 2003. It was organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and presided by Council Prefect Cardinal Renato Martino. Fr Roland Lesseps SJ is Instructor at the Kasisi Agricultural Training Centre and Fr Peter Henriot SJ is Director of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection, both in Luska, Zambia.
Archive for GMO Food Corporate Agriculture
This article will not address the issue of genetically modified oganisms or GMOs directly. We now have more than 15 years global experience of GMO crops. There is abundant evidence from top scientists across the world that GMO food is harmful. They cause cancers, allergies, infertility, and affect internal organs. GMO crops cross pollinate with non-GMO plants and contaminate the world’s genetic resource base. GMO crops are bad for the environment.
At recent major conferences of the United Nations, such as the 2002 World Food Summit+5 and the World Summit on Sustainable Development, United States government officials, often accompanied by agro-business company representatives, pushed a model of biotechnology which has been intensely questioned by farmers and others around the world. This model involves the use of genetically modified (GM) seeds. Even as questions about the production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) continue to be raised, the U.S. has included GM seed in USAID programs and food relief donations. GM seed is farmed in such scale in North America that the risks of contamination to non-genetically modified crops are a concern to many involved in international food, agriculture and trade issues.
An organic planting system developed by a Jesuit Priest is lauded as one of the most important developments for small scale farmers in 50 years. Sumant Kumar, a farmer in the village of Darveshpura in northeast India’s state of Bihar, usually harvested four to five metric tons of rice per hectare, which is about the paddy yield average, worldwide.
We support a moratorium on the planting of crops derived from genetically modified organisms (GMO), pending environmental and human safety studies. Until such time as this technology is proven safe, all foods containing GMO ingredients should be clearly LABELED.
Sustainable agriculture, food security and food safety are more urgent goals than ever as we enter the new millennium. In the developing countries the agricultural sector has multiple roles: to help ensure food security, anchor rural development, provide resources for the livelihood and adequate incomes of a majority of people and to do this without destroying the ecological base. There are thus two inextricably linked components, social and environmental, to agricultural sustainability.
What if the agricultural revolution has already happened and we didn’t realize it? Essentially, that’s the idea in this report from the Guardian about a group of poverty-stricken Indian rice and potato farmers who harvested confirmed world-record yields of rice and potatoes. Best of all: They did it completely sans-GMOs or even chemicals of any kind.