Catholic World News

Pope Francis questions genetically-modified crops, urges action to combat climate change

October 14, 2016

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.”

“There is a growing number of people who believe they are omnipotent, or able to ignore the cycles of the seasons and to improperly modify the various animal and plant species, leading to the loss of variety that, if it exists in nature, has and must have its role,” the Pope wrote in his message to the head of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The Pope continued:

Genetic selection of a quality of plant may produce impressive results in terms of yield, but have we considered the terrain that loses its productive capacity, farmers who no longer have pasture for their livestock, and water resources that become unusable? And above all, do we ask if and to what extent we contribute to altering the climate?

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.

Earlier in the message, Pope Francis called for cooperative action in the face of climate change.

“Our condition as people who are necessarily in relation to one another, and our responsibility as the guardians of creation and its order, require us to retrace the causes of the current changes and to go to their root,” he said. “First and foremost, we must admit that the many negative effects on the climate derive from the daily behavior of people, communities, populations and States.”

The Pope added:

If we are aware of this, a mere evaluation in ethical and moral terms is not sufficient. It is necessary to act politically and therefore to make the necessary decisions, to discourage or promote certain behaviors and lifestyles, for the sake of the new generations and those to come. Only in this way can we preserve the planet.

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  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Oct. 15, 2016 4:22 PM ET USA

    What kind of unchristian Marxist thought assumes that industrial and agricultural creativity, a striving for efficient productivity, hard work, and a desire to do something useful in life in response from God's own prompting can be motivated by nothing but greed? Enough of this shameless sanctimony already.

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Oct. 14, 2016 10:14 PM ET USA

    I'm more than tired of this guy's total lack of knowledge of science. Doesn't he get it - that Mendel did genetic selection? We're just far more precise at the same game! The commentators below are spot on and those who tell the starving "don't eat this grain, it's genetically modified", are guilty of murder. Once again, Obama Jr. goes off the rails with an agenda not fact. Fortunately, in this role as Pope, I can tell him to take a hike in the woods where bees are genetically modifying away.

  • Posted by: Louise01 - Oct. 14, 2016 7:24 PM ET USA

    More Laudato Si baloney. What's wrong with increasing food for the hungry?

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Oct. 14, 2016 7:06 PM ET USA

    The Pope now has a science degree in climatology? Oh forgot he doesn't.

  • Posted by: garedawg - Oct. 14, 2016 10:57 AM ET USA

    The Agricultural Revolution of the past several decades has allowed us to feed the increased numbers of people on the planet. Catholic leaders who urge us to have large families would be wise to take that into account.