Can the threat of climate change or the beginning of climate change be the catalytic event leading to a more workable world?
The book Transforming the United Nations System; Designs for a Workable World by Dr. Joseph E. Schwartzberg stresses the need and outlines the designs for a more workable world:   “The splitting of the atom has changed everything, save our mode of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.  Henceforth, every nation’s foreign policy must be judged at every point by one consideration: does it lead us to a world of law and order or does it lead us back to anarchy and death?”  Albert Einstein   Joseph Schwartzberg: “The correctness of Einstein’s admonitions ought to be self-evident, but that is clearly not the case.  Rather, most of the influential inhabitants of our planet prefer to live in a state of denial.”
“though still seriously flawed, the United Nations was spawned by the Second World War.  No sane thinker would wish for yet another major conflagration, with the attendant risk of omnicide, as the catalytic event leading to further restructuring of global politics.  But we face many other high probability threats.  Among these the potentially devastating consequences of climate change are, perhaps, the most likely.  A rise of sea level by only one or two meters brought about by progressive melting of the polar icecaps would require tremendous capital outlays to enable the continued functioning of all of the world’s major ports.  It would inundate tens of  thousands of square kilometers in deltaic lands, such as those of Bangladesh or Louisiana, displace hundreds of millions of people, and could lead to the virtual disappearance of several small island states.  Even sooner, humankind might be confronted with crippling shortages of petroleum and/or fresh water as a result of population growth and unchecked per capita demand.  Even now atmospheric pollution in the burgeoning urban centers of developing countries such as China and India poses major public health hazards.   To all of these we may add the dangers from new waves of terrorism, globalized crime, pandemics caused by previously unknown pathogens, and a variety of other hazards.
When the human family finally awakens to the need to protect itself from itself, we may collectively summon the degree of will and focused intelligence required to fundamentally restructure the framework of global governance.  The choice is ours.  This book is intended to make that choice easier than most people suppose.”

“Another world is not only possible; she is on her way.  On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.”  Arundhati Roy

Peace with the Earth Do we want to do our part to have care of the Earth?
We can't write without a pencil or send an e-mail without a computer. We need all five pillars of a Vision of Hope to take adequate care of our earth.
Stewardship of our common planet is certainly part of a global ethic. How can we love our neighbor if we poison the one planet on which all of us live?
We need greater and deeper inner spiritual freedom to keep our eyes wide open when what we see is inconvenient, even appalling. We need to eat local organically grown food. Read, study, meditate, pray. Non-violence could insure laws that would protect our environment.
A healthy environment is a natural economic right that should be part of our legal and constitutional structures.
Economic Democracy would give all of us more say about care of the earth. We need to change the bottom line and charters of corporations, make corporations more accountable to citizens
.
A democratic World Authority could give us a common global policy, ways of enforcing global laws on global climate change, preserving arable land and potable water, controlling acid rain, bio-engineered seed, and addressing other crucial environmental issues like establishing a global commons.


But we should say something explicitly and separately about care of the earth of which we are a part. We need an inner attitude of care of the earth. We need a culture in which stewardship of the earth is second nature. If the so-called "economy" is causing deterioration of the earth, we need to change our economic structures.  A "job" that is harmful to the earth is not really a job.


This web-site's section on Theological Reflection has considered reconciliation among the human family and with God. Christian scriptures and Christian theology extend reconciliation to that of physical creation. We need to be in harmony with the earth. Christian Scripture indicates that even physical creation is included in the redemptive act of Jesus. "In Him everything in heaven and on earth was created, things visible and invisible. . all were created through him, and for him. .He is before all else that is. In Him everything continues in being. It is he who is head of the body, the church: Jesus is the beginning, the first born from the dead, that in everything He might be pre-eminent, for all the fullness (pleroma) was pleased to dwell in Him and to reconcile all things to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross." (Colossians 1.16-20) Pleroma designates the plentitude of divine creative and saving power. "The effects of His saving death penetrate the whole of creation." (Gelpi, The Firstborn of Many, I. 431) "The Father has put all things under Christ's feet and has made him thus exalted, head of the church, which is his body: the fullness of him who fills the universe in all its parts." (Ephesians 1. 22, 23) "That infilling transform the Church into Jesus' instrument for extending the divine fullness to all creation. The Church, then, in accomplishing its mission mediates the fullness of salvation to a sinful world, the fullness of Christic life." (Gelpi, The Firstborn of Many, I. 440)
I think we are not used to considering the earth as being redeemed by Jesus, but as Fr. Gelpi says above, the earth's salvation is clearly stated by St. Paul. "It is in Christ and through his blood that we have been redeemed and our sins forgiven, so immeasurably generous is God's favor to us. God has given us the wisdom to understand fully the mystery, the plan he was pleased to decree in Christ, to be carried out in the fullness of time: namely, to bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ's headship." (Ephesians 1.9-18)


Co-creators, Stewards, Sharers
Since God created nature, the earth is good. God enjoins us to farm the earth and take care of it. We are called to be stewards of God's creation, to be co-creators with God in perfecting God's act of creation. (Genesis 1.11, 28. Leviticus 25.1-28. Psalm 24.)
God did not create the earth in order to destroy it. If we are to act as daughters and sons of God, the dominion we have over nature is a dominion of nurture and care, not one of destruction and careless exploitation. Since we are not the creators, not the lords of the earth, the dominion women and men exercise is delegated power. We are stewards, not absolute owners. (Genesis 2.15)
The Covenant at Sinai provided for a Sabbath year when the land was left fallow. Every fiftieth year a jubilee was to be proclaimed and property was to be restored to its original owners. (Exodus 23.11; Leviticus 25.1-7; Leviticus 25.8-17; Isaiah 61.1, 2; Luke 4.18, 19)
Jesus is our Lord. But Jesus gave us an example; he acted as a servant doing good to all. When the disciples argued over who was number one, Jesus urged them not to lord it over others, but to serve one another. Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. (John 22.26, 27)
A scriptural image of our world is that of a banquet to be shared by all. The early Christians shared all in common. (Acts 2.44-45) Early church Fathers used the banquet image and its antithesis. If we don't help the person dying of hunger, we have killed them. Today we could translate: help the one gasping for pure air, or searching for potable water; for if you have not helped them, you have killed them. St. John Chrysostom says we share all the resources of the earth together: "Do not say ?I am using what belongs to me.' You are using what belongs to others. All the wealth of the world belongs to you and to others in common, as the sun, air, earth, and all the rest." If we use this image of the earth as a banquet, should some gorge themselves on seconds and thirds before others have their first helping? Both Pope Paul VI and John Paul II urge a new world in which the poor man Lazarus can sit down at the same table with the rich man. (Luke 16.19-31; Gospel of Peace and Justice; Catholic Social Teaching Since Pope John, Joseph Gremillion, ed. 401)


God asks us to open our hearts for even more love and understanding "for the problems that concern not only the human community but also the effective preservation and protection of the natural environment of which we are all a part. .The devastation of the environment in the Amazon Basin and the threats against the human dignity of peoples living within that region call for greater commitment." (Pope Benedict XVI in Brazil, Origins, 5/24/07, Vol. 37, No. 2)


Resources on Climate Change
If you have the courage and the spiritual freedom to investigate independent scientists rather than just reactionary politicians and scientists of the energy companies, see below.
Books:
Joseph Romm, Hell and High Water: Global Warming  the Solution and the Politics  and What We Should Do
Fred Pearce, With Speed and Violence: Why Scientists Fear Tipping Points in Climate Change
WorldWatch Institute, State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World
Gary Braasch, Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming is Changing the World
Michael Mann and Lee Kump, Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming The Illustrated Guide to the Findings of the IPCC
Guy Dauncey, Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change

Articles:
This Decade "Warmest on Record"
Article from the BBC highlighting the fact that the past decade is "by far" the warmest since modern measurement of temperature began
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8400905.stm
AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science): Climate change is coming much harder, much faster than predicted
http://climateprogress.org/2009/02/15/aaas-climate-change-is-coming-much-harder-much-faster-than-predicted/
Hadley Centre: 'Catastrophic' 5-7 degree C warming by 2100 on current emissions path
http://climateprogress.org/2008/12/21/hadley-study-warns-of-catastrophic-5%c2%b0c-warming-by-2100-on-current-emissions-path/
"Dire Warming Report Too Soft, Scientists Say"
http://www.commondreams.org/print/21522
"Climate Wars Loom Over Scarce Resources"
http://www.iol.co.za/index.phpset_id=14&click_id=143&art_id=vn20070408092647243C506547&singlepage=1
"Hotter, Faster, Worser" (odd title, but a provocative article)
http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0222-27.htm
NASA Expert: World Has 10 Year Window to Act on Climate Warming
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0914-01.htm
NASA Warming Scientist: 'This is the Last Chance"
http://www.stopglobalwarming.org/sgw_read.asp?id=619486232008
A statement to the U.S. Senate signed by the major scientific organizations in the U.S. concerning the scientific consensus on climate change
http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2009/media/1021climate_letter.pdf
Global Warming Heats Up (Time magazine)
http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1176980,00.html
Global Warming Fast Facts (National Geographic)
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/12/1206_041206_global_warming.html
Ross Gelbspan, Beyond the Point of No Return
http://www.heatisonline.org/contentserver/objecthandlers/index.cfm?ID=7203&method=full
"The Global Warming Hoax" (gives a sense of the arguments of climate change deniers)
http://97.74.65.51/Printable.aspxArtId=8172

Articles on Stolen Climate Change Email Controversy, so-called  Climategate
Article from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a comprehensive discussion of the details of the emails and why they don't affect the scientific consensus on climate change
http://www.pewclimate.org/docUploads/east-anglia-cru-hacked-emails-12-09-09.pdf
Editorial from the journal "Nature," one of the world?s most respected scientific journals, strongly critiquing the denialists' distortions of scientific evidence and emphasizing that the stolen emails have no bearing on the overall science of climate change
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v462/n7273/full/462545a.html
Article from the San Francisco Chronicle that interviews various climate scientists about the emails and the denialist propaganda campaign surrounding them
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgif=/c/a/2009/12/05/MNRL1AV3Q1.DTL&type=printable

Websites:
Answers to Global Warming Skeptics - http://www.astronomynotes.com/solarsys/s11b.htm
Pew Center on Global Climate Change - http://www.pewclimate.org/
The Heat is Online - http://www.heatisonline.org
Real Climate: Climate Change from Climate Scientists - http://www.realclimate.org/
350.org (website of organization founded by Bill McKibben)  www.350.org
Catholic Coalition on Climate Change - http://catholicsandclimatechange.org
Ohio Interfaith Power and Light  http://www.ohipl.org
What Can We Do?
Global Warming: What We Can Do About It - http://www.eartheasy.com/blog/2009/03/global-warming-climate-change-what-we-can-do-about-it/
Climate Solutions  special issue of Co-op America magazine - http://www.coopamerica.org/PDF/CAQ70.pdf

Reports and articles on livestock and climate change
According to Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reducing meat consumption is the single most effective step that can be taken in the short-term to combat climate change. The following reports and articles explain why:
U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock's Long Shadow http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM
Livestock and Climate Change (highlights additional sources of greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock industry that the UN report overlooked)
www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf
UN Climate Chief, Less Meat = Less Heat
http://news.mongabay.com/bioenergy/2008/09/un-climate-chief-less-meat-less-heat.html
The Impact of Animal Agriculture on Global Warming and Climate Change
www.hsus.org/web-files/PDF/farm/animal-agriculture-and-climate.pdf
(30 page report by the Humane Society of the United States)
"Another Inconvenient Truth: Meat is a Global Warming Issue"
http://www.emagazine.com/view/3312&printview&imagesoff
Eat Less Meat, Cool the Planet
www.coopamerica.org/pubs/realmoney/articles/lessmeat.cfm
Jim Motavelli,The Case Against Meat: Evidence Shows that Our Meat-Based Diet is Bad for the Environment, Aggravates Global Hunger, Brutalizes Animals and Compromises Our Health
www.emagazine.com/view/142
Editors of WorldWatch magazine, Meat: Now It's Not Personal, But Like It or Not, Meat-Eating is Becoming a Problem for Everyone on the Planet www.usc.uwo.ca/envirowestern/EnviroTipsLinks/WorldWatchArticle.pdf
Mark Bittman, Rethinking the Meat Guzzler (New York Times)
www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/01/29/6711/print

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biodiversity

Do we have the spiritual freedom and courage to examine the evidence?

Bio-engineered seed favors monoculture rather than diversity.

Today there is concern that the period since the emergence of humans is part of a mass reduction in biodiversity, the Holocene extinction, caused primarily by the impact humans are having on the environment, particularly the destruction of plant and animal habitats. In addition, human practices have caused a loss of genetic biodiversity. The relevance of biodiversity to human health is becoming a major international issue, as scientific evidence is gathered on the global health implications of biodiversity loss.

At least 40 per cent of the world's economy and 80 per cent of the needs of the poor are derived from biological resources. In addition, the richer the diversity of life, the greater the opportunity for medical discoveries, economic development, and adaptive responses to such new challenges as climate change.

While there might be ?survival of the fittest? within a given species, each species depends on the services provided by other species to ensure survival. It is a type of cooperation based on mutual survival and is often what a ?balanced ecosystem? refers to.

The relationship between soil, plants, bacteria and other life is called the nitrogen cycle.

 

For a new way to make things, a new way to be a co-creator with God, an architect and a chemist, William McDonough and Michael Braungart, have written a book that is waterproof: Cradle to Cradle. Instead of products going cradle to grave and making our earth one big landfill, why not create products that are made to go cradle to cradle?

Cradle to Cradle
William McDonough & Michael Braungart

pp. 169-171

"The truth is, we are standing in the middle of an enormous marketplace filled with ingredients that are largely undefined: we know little about what they are made of, and how. And based on what we do know, for the most part the news is not good; most of the products we have analyzed do not meet truly eco-effective design criteria. Yet decisions have to be made today, forcing upon the designer the difficult question of which materials are sound enough to use. People are coming for dinner in a few hours, and they expect to, need to, eat. Despite the astonishing paucity of healthy, nutritious ingredients, and the mystery surrounding, say, genetically modified crops (to carry the metaphor further), we cannot put off cooking until perfection has been achieved."

You might decide, as a personal preference, to be a vegetarian (free of meat), or not to consume meat from animals that have been fed hormones (another "free of" strategy). But what about the ingredients you do use? Being a vegetarian does not tell you exactly how the produce you are using has been grown or handled. You might prefer organically grown spinach to conventionally grown spinach, but without knowing more about the processor's packaging and transportation methods, you can't be certain that it it safer or better for the environment unless you grow it yourself. But we must begin somewhere, and odds are that as an initial step, considering these issues and expressing your preferences in the choices you make will result in greater eco-effectiveness than had you not considered them at all.

Many real-life decisions come down to comparing two things that are both less than ideal, as in the case of chlorine-free paper versus recycled paper. You may find yourself choosing between a petrochemical-based fabric and an "all natural" cotton that was produced with the help of large amounts of petrochemically generated nitrogen fertilizers and strip-mined radioactive phosphates, not to mention insecticides and herbicides. And beyond what you know lurk other troubling questions of social equity and broader ecological ramifications. When the choice is consistently between the frying pan and the fire, the chooser is apt to feel helpless and frustrated, which is why a more profound approach to redesign is critical. But in the meantime, there are ways to do the best with what we have, to make better choices.

pp.178-179

Now we are doing more than designing for biological and technical cycles. We are recasting the design assignment: not design a car but design a nutrivehicle. Instead of aiming to create cars with minimal or zero negative emissions, imagine cars designed to release positive emissions and generate other nutritious effects on the environment. The car's engine is treated like a chemical plant modeled on nature or industries. As it burns fuel, the water vapor in its emissions could be captured, turned back into water, and made use of. (Currently the average car emits approximately four fifths of a gallon of water vapor into the air for every gallon of gas it burns.) Instead of making the catalytic converter as small as possible, we might develop the means to use nitrous oxide as a fertilizer and configure our car to make and store as much as possible while driving. Instead of releasing the carbon the car produces when burning gasoline as carbon dioxide, why not store it as carbon black in canisters that could be sold to rubber manufacturers? Using fluid mechanics, tires could be designed to attract and capture harmful particles, thus cleaning the air instead of further dirtying it. And, of course, after the end of its useful life, all the car's materials go back to the biological or technical cycle.

Push the design assignment further: Design a new transportation infrastructure. In other words, don't just reinvent the recipe, rethink the menu.

The Earth Participates in Sin

Christian theology has always held that humankind has a collective sin called original sin. In a mysterious way the earth participates in and reflects the sin of humankind. "Cursed be the earth because of you." But in the covenant with Noah this curse is removed. (Genesis 3.17 & Gen. 8.21)

Christians believe that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus redeems humankind from original sin. As we have said, St. Paul includes physical creation in Christ's redeeming act. "The world itself will be freed from its slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. All creation groans and is in agony even until now." (Romans 8.19 ff)

Not only is physical creation redeemed by Jesus, Christ creates and sustains the earth. "In Jesus everything in heaven and on earth was created, things visible and invisible. . . all were created through him, and for him. . . in him everything continues in being. . . It pleased God to make absolute fullness reside in him, and, by means of him, to reconcile everything in his person both on earth and in the heavens, making peace through the blood of his cross." (Colossians 1.16)

St. Paul repeats that reconciliation of the earth is part of the mission, message, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. "It is in Christ and through his blood that we have been redeemed and our sins forgiven so immeasurably generous is God's favor to us. God has given us the wisdom to understand fully the mystery, the plan he was pleased to decree in Christ, to be carried out in the fullness of time: namely, to bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ's headship." (Ephesians 1.9-18)

An Inconvenient Truth

In our present system our livelihood and success can depend on a particular industry that uses fossil fuels extensively. Our job can cloud our vision and affect our judgment. Global warming can be "an inconvenient truth." But global warming can affect the livelihood of all of us in a dramatic way. Examine the science at Climate Crisis.

"To grow corn that cheap, you need more than just subsidies. [When the farmer gets a fair price which includes care of the environment, there won't be any need for subsidies.] You also need vast quantities of fossil fuel. The food industry consumes about 20 percent of imported petroleum, much of which goes to fertilize cornfields. Corn takes a great amount of nitrogen to grow, and the way we make artificial nitrogen is to turn natural gas into ammonium-nitrate fertilizer. So something else you're eating in that McDonald's meal is fossil fuel. A pound of beef takes a half gallon of oil to grow. A bushel of corn also takes about a half gallon. It takes ten calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce one calorie of food energy that way. So to eat that McDonald's meal, we need to keep the oil flowing. . .transporting food from distant farms requires fossil fuel and technologies to keep food fresh. . . grasslands have plenty of biodiversity and help lessen the greenhouse effect by reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. All plants take in carbon dioxide, sequester the carbon, and release the oxygen back into the air. What's important about grasses is that they sequester most of that carbon in the soil, and very little in their actual 'bodies.'" The Sun, May 2006, pp. 7-8. [Thus our food delivery system is a major cause of global warming and destabilization of the climate.]

What we eat and care of our Earth

A scarcity of potable water in poorer nations is no secret. Now the US government predicts shortages of water in thirty-six states within five years. Even now there is a drought in Georgia; a town in Tennessee limits service to three hours a day. Lake Mead which supplies Las Vegas and parts of California, is 100 feet below normal and draining rapidly. Is there a way to save our water supply? Yes, by eating less meat! Wheat requires 117 gallons of water to produce a pound of food. Beef requires 5,165 gallons a pound--a ratio of nearly 50 to 1!

A panel of thousands of the world's top climate scientists, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that human-caused global warming is "unequivocal" and coming faster than expected. One of the best ways to reverse global climate change is to eat a plant based diet. 18% of global warming emissions come from raising chickens, turkeys, pigs, and other animals for food. That's about 40% more than all the cars, trucks, airplanes, and all other forms of transport combined. (See Earthsave, Feb. 2008)

Earth Part of the Covenant

God made a Covenant with the Hebrew people and later with the Christian people. Scripture states that that Covenant is extended by God to physical creation. "See I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you." The sign is the rainbow. (Genesis 9.9)

Jeremiah connects the covenant with David and the covenant with physical nature: "If you can break my covenant with day and my covenant with night so that day and night no longer alternate in sequence, then can my covenant with my servant David also be broken." This same theme of the covenant extending to physical creation is also part of the Christian Covenant. (Jeremiah 33.20; Ezekiel 47.1-12; Genesis 2.10-17. See also the cosmic hymn of praise in Psalm 148.)

Creation, Redemption, Oneness

Creatures are thus praise of the Creator. If we are close to the rhythms of nature, we are close to the Creator of those rhythms.

We are co-creators with God, called to farm the earth. God, of course, is the first Creator, but creation was far from complete in the beginning, and through our talents we are invited to assist in bringing God's act of creation to completion.

We are like nature and nature is like us. "Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap; they gather nothing into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them." (Matthew 6.26)

Fr. Edward Carter, S..J., deceased professor of theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, agreed that physical nature participates in humankind's sin and is mysteriously redeemed by the life and death of Christ. "In assuming a human nature, Christ united to Himself humankind, also the material creation below humankind. In the words of Teilhard de Chardin, Christ is the physical center of the Universe. . Christ has redeemed man, and as a consequence of man's redemption, the whole physical universe has been redeemed. . . With the intrusion of sin into God's creation, man and nonrational creation were both affected. Through his misuse of God's creation by sin, man not only puts disorder into himself, but also into the creation which he misuses. . Christ as king wants His redemptive grace to spread out and touch deeply humankind and the physical universe. . The mission of the Church consists in imprinting the name of Jesus Christ more deeply upon the entire universe, men and matter alike." Response in Christ, A Study of Christian Life, 23, 25)

Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. says that matter is transformed, divinized when Jesus enters the waters at his baptism: "Who can fail to perceive the great symbolic gesture of baptism in this general history of matter? Christ immerses himself in the waters of the Jordan, symbol of the forces of the earth. These he sanctifies. And in the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa, he emerges streaming with water and elevating along with himself the whole world. . . By virtue of your suffering incarnation, disclose to us the spiritual power of matter, and then teach us how to harness it jealously for you." (Divine Milieu, An Essay on the Interior Life, 86)

I think land and food have a spiritual connection. Food is the first unifier; our primary experience of communion. Communion leads to a sense of oneness with the whole of creation. We grow in reverence for the earth, the great Mother that confers life and power.

Science tells us there is a physical interdependence of every element in the universe. Gravitational fields, electric fields, magnetic fields have no limits. Chardin saw this physical interdependence as uniting us with all of creation and with Christ.

No Material Sign, No Sacrament

Physical creation is essential for sacramental life in the Christian churches. Without bread, wine, oil as visible signs, there are no sacraments. In the sacraments Christ comes again to create a new heaven and a new earth and present it to the Father. To Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the Eucharistic Christ is not just the spiritual center but the physical center of the universe. Physical creation, ourselves, and Christ are one, physically one. The physical environment is one with us and with Christ. As friends or husband and wife grow together over the years, we strive to become more one. A pre-eminent way in which we do this is through the Eucharist of the Christian Mass.

One Eucharist

"All the communions of all men and women, present, past and future, are one communion. . . Christ is discovered in every single reality around us, and shines like an ultimate determination, like a Centre, one might almost say like a universal Element. Through our humanity assimilating the material world, and the Host assimilating our humanity, the Eucharistic transformation goes beyond and completes the transubstantiation of the bread on the altar. . . In a secondary and generalized sense, but in a true sense, the sacramental species are formed by the totality of the world and the duration of creation is needed for its consecration. In Christ, we live and move and are." (Chardin, The Divine Milieu, 102-104)

Through the Eucharist all creation is being drawn to Christ as to its center. Teilhard did not hesitate to identify Christ as not just the spiritual center but the physical center of the universe. (Gelpi, The Firstborn of Many, III 401) But I think we have to grow a better grade of wheat and bake a better loaf of bread before Christ will come and consecrate the world fully into His body.

The Eucharist is unity. If there is someone hungry anywhere in the world, the Eucharist is incomplete everywhere in the world. In 1979 on my radio show Faith and Justice Forum I interviewed Bishop Maurice Dingman who at that time was the President of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. He told listeners that at a social function a farmer approached him and handed him a letter. "I heard the Pope is coming to the United States, and I think he should come to a rural area." Bishop Dingman took the letter to his advisors and asked what he was supposed to do with the farmer's request since the Pope obviously wasn't going to come to Iowa. His advisors countered, "You always say the best ideas come from the people. The Pope could say Mass here at Living History Farms. The people could stay with other farmers. We could host the Pope." As he listened, Bishop Dingman decided it could be done. He wrote a letter to Bishop Kelly, at that time secretary to the United States Catholic Bishops. He received no reply. Waiting a couple of weeks, Bishop Dingman then called Bishop Kelly who said: "There's no way the Pope is coming to Iowa. His itinerary is already settled." Undaunted, Bishop Dingman then wrote to the Apostolic Delegate in Washington, D.C. A few weeks later the Apostolic Delegate called to say he would forward Bishop Dingman's letter to the Pope. Soon Bishop Dingman got another call. "The Pope thinks coming to a rural area is a superb idea and would be delighted to come to Des Moines! We'll come there from Chicago."

The homily of Pope John Paul II at Des Moines was an excellent theological exhortation on food, farming, and the Eucharist. "As one who has always been close to nature, let me speak to you today about the land, the earth, and that which earth has given and human hands have made. The land is God's gift entrusted to people from the very beginning. It is God's gift, given by a loving creator as a means of sustaining the life which he had created. But the land is not only God's gift. It is also man's responsibility. Man, himself created from the dust of the earth, (Genesis 3, 7), was made its master. (Gn 1.26). In order to bring forth fruit, the land would depend upon the genius and skillfulness, the sweat and the toil of the people to whom God would entrust it. Thus the food which would sustain life on earth is willed by God to be both that 'which earth has given and human hands have made.'" (Eucharistic Mass at Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 4, 1979, Origins, Vol. 9; no. 18, Oct. 18, 1979)

Though there is continuity between our life here and the life to come, we pray that Jesus come to create a new heaven and a new earth, the heavenly Jerusalem." (Revelation 21, 22)

For practical ways to make our earth better for those who will come after us, I recommend,

  • Appalachia-Science in the Public Interest
    50 Lair Street
    Mt. Vernon, Kentucky
    40456
  • Imago Earth Center: Connects our faith and the earth.
    Fr. Al Fritsch, S.J.
  • Coalition Courier Volume 5, Issue 4 (May 2007) Time magazine offers a survival guide... Global Warming: What Now? A special issue of Time magazine (April 9, 2007- Vol. 169, No. 15) is dedicated to the topic of global warming. We end Volume 5 of our newsletter with some segments taken from that issue ?
    • " It was probably always too much to believe that human beings would be responsible stewards of the planet. We may be the smartest of all the animals, endowed with exponentially greater powers of insight and abstraction, but we're animals all the same. That means that we can also be short-sighted and brutish, hungry for food, resources, land--and heedless of the mess we leave behind trying to get them.

      And make a mess we have. If droughts and wildfires, floods and crop failures, collapsing climate-sensitive species and the images of drowning polar bears didn't quiet most of the remaining global-warming doubters, the hurricane-driven destruction of New Orleans did. Dismissing a scientist's temperature chart is one thing. Dismissing the death of a major American city is something else entirely. What's more, the heat is only continuing to rise. This past year was the hottest on record in the U.S. The deceptively normal average temperature this winter masked record-breaking highs in December and record-breaking lows in February. That's the sign not of a planet keeping an even strain but of one thrashing through the alternating chills and night sweats of a serious illness.

      The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report on the state of planetary warming in February that was surprising only in its utter lack of hedging. "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal," the report stated. What's more, there is "very high confidence" that human activities since 1750 have played a significant role by overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide hence retaining solar heat that would otherwise radiate away. The report concludes that while the long-term solution is to reduce the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, for now we're going to have to dig in and prepare, building better levees, moving to higher ground, abandoning vulnerable floodplains altogether. When former Vice President Al Gore made his triumphant return to Capitol Hill on March 21 to testify before Congress on climate change, he issued an uncompromising warning: "We do not have time to play around with this."

      Some lingering critics still found wiggle room in the U.N. panel's findings. "I think there is a healthy debate ongoing, even though the scientists who are in favor of doing something on greenhouse gases are in the majority," says Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. But when your last good position is to debate the difference between certain and extra certain, you're playing a losing hand. "The science," says Christine Todd Whitman, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (epa), "now is getting to the point where it's pretty hard to deny." Indeed it is. Atmospheric levels of CO2 were 379 parts per million (p.p.m.) in 2005, higher than at any time in the past 650,000 years. Of the 12 warmest years on record, 11 occurred between 1995 and 2006.

      So if the diagnosis is in, what's the cure? A crisis of this magnitude clearly calls for action that is both bottom-up and top-down. Though there is some debate about how much difference individuals can make, there is little question that the most powerful players--government and industry--have to take the lead.

      Still, individuals too can move the carbon needle, but how much and how fast? Different green strategies, after all, yield different results. You can choose a hybrid vehicle, but simply tuning up your car and properly inflating the tires will help too. Buying carbon offsets can reduce the impact of your cross-continental travel, provided you can ensure where your money's really going. Planting trees is great, but in some parts of the world, the light-absorbing color of the leaves causes them to retain heat and paradoxically increases warming.

      Even the most effective individual action, however, is not enough. Cleaning up the wreckage left by our 250-year industrial bacchanal will require fundamental changes in a society hooked on its fossil fuels. Beneath the grass-roots action, larger tectonic plates are shifting. Science is attacking the problem more aggressively than ever. So is industry. So are architects and lawmakers and urban planners. The world is awakened to the problem in a way it never has been before. Says Carol Browner, onetime administrator of the EPA: "It's a sea change from where we were on this issue."

The Green Company

When a business with more than 7,000 stores, 1.8 million employees and $345 billion in sales changes its ways, it's hard not to notice. Wal-Mart has made itself the darling of greens with its pledge to install solar panels on many of its stores, switch to hybrid vehicles, conserve water and even buy wild-caught salmon. More important, its mandates are having an incalculable ripple effect through its 60,000 suppliers, which are being asked to join Wal-Mart's effort to reduce packaging, waste and energy use. And when Wal-Mart asks, there's little question what the answer will be.

But Wal-Mart is not alone. In January the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a group that includes some of the biggest corporate players and energy users in the world--Alcoa, BP America, Duke Energy, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, Caterpillar and PG&E--asked the Federal Government to act aggressively on climate change, not least by imposing legal limits on the amount of industrial carbon dioxide emissions. The corporations know there's a virtue in going green, but they're also looking for some regulatory certainty before they make massive investments. What's more, there's money to be made in the enviro game.

Take General Electric. Its Ecomagination initiative centers on a line of 45 green products, including wind turbines and next-generation jet engines that go easy on the earth but land nicely on the balance sheet. Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt set a goal of generating more than $20 billion in revenue from Ecomagination by 2010, and by 2006 the company had hit the $12 billion mark.

DuPont, which suffered twin hits to both revenue and reputation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when it had to phase out its production of ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons, has made a similar environmental pledge. It sold its Dacron, Lycra and Nylon division--all fossil-fuel-based fabrics--and is concentrating on bio-based materials like Sorona polymer made from starch found in the kernels of corn. DuPont hopes to more than double its revenue from nondepletable resources, to $8 billion by 2015. The company has also cut its greenhouse-gas emissions 72% since 1990 and is aiming for more. That puts DuPont in position to respond nimbly if Washington eventually acts to cap carbon. "We learned that we have to be ahead of legislation," says Linda Fisher, DuPont's chief sustainability officer, a title of growing significance in corporate America. "That is truer today than it was 20 years ago."

Not surprisingly, some companies talk a green game but don't really play one. Ford Motor Co. made a big show of performing a $2 billion environmental overhaul of its River Rouge factory in Dearborn, Mich., but still turns out SUVs like the elephantine Expedition, which gets a puny 14 m.p.g. in city driving. Toyota, famous for its hybrid Prius, has nonetheless joined the U.S. Big Three in lobbying Washington against stricter fuel standards.

This kind of environmental posing--greenwashing is the term of art--will not be a viable business strategy in a world transformed by climate change. The smart money is betting on the need for real innovation--clean technology that lowers costs or improves output. Venture capital is increasingly flowing to green start-ups: $474 million in the first three quarters of 2006 in Silicon Valley alone. That's sparking the interest of everyday investors, who see green technology as--dare they wish it?--the next Internet. Says Ray Lane, a partner at the KPCB venture-capital firm: "If you consider the sheer scale of the problem, I think this is an order of magnitude bigger."

Global mutual fund Portfolio 21 announced its Top 10 financial performers among companies implementing environ-mental business strategies. The top performers in the fund posted returns ranging from 41% to 131% in 2006.

The fund identifies companies that recognize the enormous opportunity that exists to save money by saving natural resources and by providing products, services and technologies that are needed to create a sustainable society. Specifically, Portfolio 21 seeks companies that understand environmental constraints and risks, such as climate change, and are changing the way they design products and develop business models to reduce their exposure to these constraints and risks, thereby ensuring greater long-term competitiveness.

?Smart corporate leaders and savvy investors agree that paying attention to ecological trends and how they affect the bottom line may be an intelligent investment strategy,? said Carsten Henningsen, co-founder of Portfolio 21. ?Global warming could have an enormous impact on the world economy in the coming years; companies that are already addressing the risks and opportunities presented by climate change may have a big head start.?

Portfolio 21?s Top 10 financial performers for the 12-month period ending December 30, 2006, include:

  • Acciona: This diversified Spanish company prioritizes sustainability across its business lines. Through its construction and infrastructure subsidiary, Acciona works to educate clients and promote environmental features.
  • British Land: British Land, a property development and management company, clearly recognizes the economic benefits and competitive advantage that can be earned through the incorporation of sustainability principles.
  • Canon: Canon focuses on creating energy- and resource-efficient products as well as eliminating hazardous substances.
  • Fuel Systems Solution: This company designs, manufactures and supplies fuel storage, fuel delivery, and electronic control systems for automobile engines, with a focus on systems compatible with alternative fuels, such as natural gas and methane.
  • Hewlett-Packard: Hewlett-Packard established its Environmental Stewardship program and Design-for-Environment principles in 1992, and continues to be a leader in addressing environmental issues.
  • Interface: With a variety of environmental programs being implemented, Interface has developed the first "climate neutral" carpeting, has installed photovoltaics to provide solar power to three of its facilities, is developing carpet made from renewable natural materials that can be composted or recycled back into the same product, and, through its ?Mission Zero? program, aims to have zero waste and closed loop production.
  • JM: This Swedish construction and real estate company leads its industry in sustainable practices.
  • Novozymes: Denmark?s Novozymes is the world leader in biotech-based industrial enzymes and microorganisms. These enzyme products can reduce the use of energy, raw materials, and harsh chemicals as well as reducing waste generation.
  • Ormat: Ormat is focused on recovered and geothermal energy, both of which are renewable and have low global warming profiles.
  • Vestas Wind System: This Danish wind turbine manufacturer has a clear sustainability strategy based on manufacturing equipment and operating facilities for the renewable energy sector.

Portfolio 21 believes there is a business and investment case for environmental sustainability. ?Real opportunities and potential future successes lie in understanding the ecological crisis. We believe companies that prove this understanding with innovative environmental business strategies have a real competitive advantage today and are poised for further leadership and innovation in the future,? Henningsen said.

Information taken from: CRSwire.com This is not an endorsement for Portfolio 21.

Save the environment and save money... Five Things You Can Do Now

  1. Change five lights. Replace your five most frequently used light bulbs with products that have earned the Energy Star label, such as compact fluorescent.
  2. Heat and cool smartly. Have your system checked annually and install an Energy Star labeled programmable thermostat so you are not paying to heat or cool your house when you are not at home.
  3. Seal up your home with better insulation and ductwork. Keep the warm air in and the big energy bills out of your house by following Energy Star Home Sealing recommendations for adding insulation to your home and weather-stripping and caulking around doors and windows.
  4. Look for Energy Star labeled products. When you are in the market for home electronics, major appliances, office equipment, heating and cooling systems, windows or even a new home, choose one that has earned the Energy Star.
  5. Tell family and friends how they can help. Slip it into a conversation with your mother. Talk about it at a neighbor's barbecue. Pass it on at a PTA meeting or at work. We're asking you to help spread the word that energy efficiency is good for your home and good for our environment. So tell five people and together we can help our homes help us all.

Source: http://www.environmentohio.org/dev.environmentohio/energy-star

A sign of respect for God?s creation. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholic social teaching has been dubbed the best kept secret in the Church today. The U.S.C.C.B. issued a statement in 2001 entitled ?Global Climate Change ? a plea for dialogue, prudence and the common good.?

?As a people of faith, we are convinced that ?the earth is the Lord?s and all it holds? (Ps 24:1). Our Creator has given us the gift of creation: the air we breathe, the water that sustains life, the fruits of the land that nourish us, and the entire web of life without which human life cannot flourish. All of this God created and found ?very good.? We believe our response to global climate change should be a sign of our respect for God?s creation.?

?At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God?s creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both ?the human environment? and the natural environment. It is about our human stewardship of God?s creation and our responsibility to those who come after us. ? we especially want to focus on the needs of the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests. Inaction and inadequate or misguided responses to climate change will likely place even greater burdens on already desperately poor peoples. Action to mitigate global climate change must be built upon a foundation of social and economic justice that does not put the poor at greater risk or place disproportionate and unfair burdens on developing nations.?

"God has endowed humanity with reason and ingenuity that distinguish us from other creatures. Ingenuity and creativity have enabled us to make remarkable advances and can help us address the problem of global climate change; however, we have not always used these endowments wisely. Past actions have produced both good works and harmful ones, as well as unforseen or unintended consequences. ? Catholic social teaching provides several themes and values that can help ? the universal common good; stewardship of God?s creation and the right to economic initiative and private property; protecting the environment for future generations; population and authentic development; caring for the poor and issues of equity.?

?Each of us should carefully consider our choices and lifestyles. We live in a culture that prizes the consumption of material goods. ? Even though energy resources literally fuel our economy and provide a good quality of life, we need to ask about ways we can conserve energy, prevent pollution, and live more simply.?

The document concludes ?In the spirit of praise and thanksgiving to God for the wonders of creation, we Catholic bishops call for a civil dialogue and prudent and constructive action to protect God?s precious gift of the earth?s atmosphere with a sense of genuine solidarity and justice for all God?s children.?

Quotes taken from ?Global Climate Change,? USCCB, publication no. 5-431.

The Earth and the Jewish Spirit

"Rabbinic writings expand the notion of Holy Land to include the whole earth." Ecology and the Jewish Spirit, Where Nature & the Sacred Meet, ed Ellen Bernstein (p. 41) "Israel, the holy people, could encounter holiness anywhere and everywhere. The entire earth offered an encounter with God." (p. 47) "Any place is made holy by the fidelity and piety of its inhabitants. In fact, land can be 'soiled'; it can react with revulsion to the greed, rebelliousness, or violence of humanity. . . a people is ultimately responsible for the maintenance of its 'place.'"(p. 48). The Covenant extends to physical creation. (p. 59)

Jewish people are called to stewardship of the land. (See "An Imperiled Promised Land" Alon Tal in Torah of the Earth, Exploring 4000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought, Vol. 2, p.42) "But the seventh year thou shalt let your land rest and lie fallow" Exodus 23.11 "One year out of seven we should stop working the earth, dedicating this year to replenishment of the earth. . . The Sabbatical Year becomes an important instruction to the human race: you don't run things, you are stewards, and you can have power to run your lives only if you do it in accord with the higher purpose that you are here to serve." (Ibid. Rabbi Michael Lerner, p. 232 ff)

Earth Charter

A new book by Elisabeth M. Ferrero and Joe Holland, both members of Pax Romana / Catholic Movement for Intellectual & Cultural Affairs - USA, has been released to the whole world for free in an electronic format on the Internet. Titled THE EARTH CHARTER: A STUDY BOOK OF REFLECTION FOR ACTION, the book is available for viewing and for free non-commercial downloading here.

The book's writing and publication is a project of Pax Romana / Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs USA, in cooperation with the Center for Sustainable Living, the Florida Council of Catholic Scholarship, and the International Consortium on Religion and Ecology.

Ferrero's and Holland's book traces the historical development of the Earth Charter and provides an extensive commentary on its principles, as well as a copy of the final draft of the Earth Charter itself. The book also contains letters of greetings from Msgr. Franklyn Casale, President of St. Thomas University in Miami - USA, and from Miriam Vilela, Executive Director of the Earth Charter Initiative in San José, Costa Rica, plus a Preface by the distinguished ecological scholar and visionary, Thomas Berry.

Talloires Declaration

"For the first time in world history the human species is drastically altering the face of the earth and the composition of its atmosphere. Global air and water pollution, accumulation of toxic wastes, destruction of forests, and depletion of the ozone lay threaten the survival of humans and thousands of other living species. The integrity of the earth, its biodiversity, and the security of nations are at risk. These environmental changes are caused by inequitable and unsustainable production and consumption patters which also aggravate poverty in many regions of the world. Moreover, these trends are likely to worsen in the absence of societal intervention.

Universities educate most of the people who develop and manage society's institutions. For this reason, universities bear profound responsibilities to increase the awareness, knowledge, technologies, and tools to create an environmentally sustainable future.

The university is a microcosm of the larger community, and the manner in which it carries out its daily activities is an important demonstration of ways to achieve environmentally responsible living. By practicing what it preaches, the university can both engage the students in understanding the institutional metabolism of materials and activities, have them actively participate to minimize pollution and waste.

Seek large increases in the funding of interdisciplinary, environmental research. . . Establish programs in all major disciplines to teach about environment and sustainable development in the context of these disciplines.

Establish a university environmental policy to engage faculty, staff, administration, and students in activities such as energy and water conservation, and recycling. Encourage vendors who supply schools with products and services to act in an environmentally responsible manner when manufacturing their products and delivering their services.

Establish multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary structures, such as 'centers of excellence' for research, education, and policy development within the university. . ."

Presidents of universities from all over the world convened at Tufts European Center in Talloires, France from Oct. 4-7, 1990 to discuss the role of universities in saving the earth. They formed the Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future.

Sustainability for our Planet Earth

How can we meet our needs today while not compromising the abilities of future generations to meet their needs?

I think it is essential for US political democracy that we have democratic control of the land. Unless all the stakeholders are represented, selfish commercial interests may predominate. Who will represent the earth? If control of the land is more democratic, the voice of a suffering earth has a better chance of being heard.

I favor appropriate technology and organic farming which is regenerative, sustainable, and safer for the consumer. For technology to be appropriate it needs to be in harmony with the earth.

"The term 'sustainable agriculture' was introduced in the early 1980's and has since gained wide recognition. It is used to convey the concept of a system of agriculture that is ecologically, economically, and socially viable, in the short as well as long term. Sustainable agriculture represents the end-goal of developing a food production system that: yields plentiful, affordable, high-quality food and other agricultural products; does not deplete or damage natural resources (such as soil, water, wildlife, fossil fuels, or the germ-plasm base); promotes the health of the environment; provides a good livelihood for farmers; supports a broad base and diversity of farms and the health of rural communities; depends on energy from the sun and on natural biological processes for fertility and pest management; can last indefinitely." Sustainable Agriculture, Concepts and Farm Applications, December, 1991, Fayetteville, Arkansas: ATTRA, Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas, 1.

"To grow corn that cheap, you need more than just subsidies. [When the farmer gets a fair price which includes care of the environment, there won't be any need for subsidies.] You also need vast quantities of fossil fuel. The food industry consumes about 20 percent of imported petroleum, much of which goes to fertilize cornfields. Corn takes a great amount of nitrogen to grow, and the way we make artificial nitrogen is to turn natural gas into ammonium-nitrate fertilizer. So something else you're eating in that McDonald's meal is fossil fuel. A pound of beef takes a half gallon of oil to grow. A bushel of corn also takes about a half gallon. It takes ten calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce one calorie of food energy that way. So to eat that McDonald's meal, we need to keep the oil flowing. . .transporting food from distant farms requires fossil fuel and technologies to keep food fresh. . . grasslands have plenty of biodiversity and help lessen the greenhouse effect by reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. All plants take in carbon dioxide, sequester the carbon, and release the oxygen back into the air. What's important about grasses is that they sequester most of that carbon in the soil, and very little in their actual 'bodies.'" The Sun, May 2006, pp. 7-8. [Thus our food delivery system is a major cause of global warming and destabilization of the climate.]

Solar Energy, Wind Power

To see the advantages of wind power see Green Energy Ohio. Green Energy Ohio is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally and economically sustainable energy policies and practices in Ohio.

Religion Resource Web-sites

  • Society of Environmental Journalists
  • Earthhealing, Inc. by Fr. Al Fritsch, S.J.: For many years Fr. Albert Fritsch, S.J. has joined his religious faith with his scientific scholarship and his passion for justice to make this a healthier earth.
  • Grailville: Grailville is challenging, productive and educational living/working group committed to personal and communal spiritual growth and care of the Earth. Grailville is an oasis of green, beauty, and peace, bordering the City of Loveland near Cincinnati, Ohio.

Water

Private ownership of water or privatization of water is a threat to our water security. One person in six does not have access to clean drinking water. The UN predicts that by 2025, two-thirds of the world's population will not have access to sufficient drinking water. Private corporations look at water as blue gold. Delegates from thirty-five nations formulated principles concerning fresh water: "Earth's fresh water belongs to the Earth and all species, and therefore must not be treated as a private commodity to be bought, sold and traded for profit. The global fresh water supply is a shared legacy, a public trust, a fundamental human right, and therefore a collective responsibility."

Bottle water is much more expensive than tap or filtered water. Annual sales of bottled water are more than thirty-five billion dollars worldwide. Much bottled water is appropriated by giant soft drink corporations. These transnational corporations buy up farms, wilderness tracts, and whole water systems. Plastic water bottles clog landfills. In a test of 1000 bottles, one third contained contamination, including traces of arsenic and E. coli. One fourth of bottled water is taken from the tap. Bottled water is subject to much less regulation than tap water.

What are we to do? If your tap water is questionable, consider using filters even though energy and materials are still needed for filter production and distribution and used up tilter components usually end in landfills where they can release toxins collected from the water back into the environment. Filters are a temporary solution and no substitute for proper watershed conservation and management--i.e. keeping our natural water supply clean.

Messages in Water?

Dr. Masaru Emoto, The Hidden Messages in Water: We are mostly water; the earth is mostly water. If we send vibrations of love and gratitude, through water the earth will pick up those messages.

How can we be happy? By purifying the water that makes up 70% of our body. Water carried by blood and bodily fluids circulates nourishment and energy throughout our bodies.

Homeopathy teaches us to treat like with like, poison with poison. Lead poisoning can be treated by drinking water with the minutest amount of lead in it. At this minute level lead is no longer in the water for practical purposes, but the characteristics of lead remain and forms the medicine for treating lead poisoning. The information copied to the water is being used to cancel out the information of the symptoms from the poison. Water has the ability to copy and memorize information.

No two snow crystals are exactly the same. After much experimentation Dr. Emoto was able to freeze water and take pictures of the crystals. He put a bottle of water on a table between two speakers and played Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony with its bright and clear tones. Beautiful and well-formed crystals resulted. Mozart's 40th Symphony, a graceful prayer to beauty, created crystals that were delicate and elegant. In contrast violent heavy-metal music produced fragmented and malformed crystals.

Whether you believe Dr. Emoto's experiments or not, I recommend sending vibrations of love and gratitude throughout the earth.

Vegetarians Help Preserve Water Supply

From the Stockholm International Water Institute at the 12th meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development: It takes 145 gallons of water to produce one loaf of bread; 1,849 gallons to produce just three and a half ounces of beef. It takes about fifty times more water to produce a calorie of beef than a calorie of potatoes. By going vegan, you can reduce the amount of water needed to grow your food from an average of 320,00 gallons a year to around 10,000 gallons a year. The water required to grow food to feed one person on the Standard American Diet can feed thirty-two people eating a healthier plant-based diet.

No one today is making any money in agriculture except for the transnational corporate giants who control farm commodity prices, agricultural input prices, seeds, patents, and retail food sales. Corporations are making billions while family farmers in the US and all over the world are going bankrupt. On a global scale this chemical and genetically engineered driven model of agriculture will be literally catastrophic. (See BioDemocrtacy News # 25 http://www.purefood.org BioDemocracy Camapaign)

Turning Point Project

Where there were once a hundred farmers using thirty acres each, there may now be one corporate farmer using 3000 acres. Nearly a billion pounds of pesticide are applied annually in the US. Half of the US topsoil has been lost in the last four decades of industrial farming. If the present system is ecologically unsustainable and socially repulsive, where do we go from here? A coalition of 60 organizations, the Turning Point Project www.turnpoint.org proposes:

  1. Return to diverse mixed crops produced for local consumption. Work toward community and regional food self-reliance. This will reduce chemicals, mechanization, and fossil fuel use, allowing people to farm who know and love the land. It will also reduce long distance transport of food, pollution of soil, air, rivers and oceans.
  2. Reduce soil erosion to natural replacement levels by eliminating soil-depleting chemicals and heavy machinery. Return to natural nutrients, by composting and putting animals back onto farms. Close down factory farm concentration camps that create environmental nightmares and pollution of the underground water supply. Thousands of hogs in one factory farm creates as much waste as a city of 30,000 people.
  3. Reintroduce time-honored safe practices for maintaining healthy soil: Mixed cropping, cover cropping crop rotation, appropriate technology, reduced use of irrigation through appropriate crop selection depending on the region and local climate.
  4. Limit corporate farming. Corporate ownership of farmland is already restricted in Nebraska, North Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Other states place limits on the size of farms. The ultimate policy goal must be to reduce the super-farm to a moderate-sized farm able to be handled by family farmers or small cooperatives.
  5. Bring anti-trust actions to reverse corporate oligarchy in the food industry in which a few giant firms control seed, feed, farm machinery, and in which a few giant firms buy farm products and manufacture food and fibre. Appropriate technology and economies of scale would make the production of food more humane and ecologically sustainable.
  6. Revive rural communities so that they can become strong again and diverse enough to support family farmers with services and supplies. Develop rural culture and community life.
  7. Work with nature but not against the grain.

Kentucky farmer and author Wendell Berry: "Industrialism is a way of thought based on monetary capital and technology; agrarianism is a way of thought based on land. An agrarian economy rises up from the fields, woods, and streams. It is not regional or national, let alone global, but local. It must know on intimate terms the local plants and animals and local soils."

Genetic contamination of organic crops by genetic drift from farms growing genetically engineered crops must be stopped. There is a growing international call, endorsed by the British Medical Association among others, for a global moratorium on genetically engineered foods and crops.

Billions of pounds of pesticides and nitrate fertilizers are contaminating more and more of the nation's municipal water supplies. The US has a food and water-related cancer epidemic (48% of all males and 38% of all females in the US can now look forward to getting cancer). There is an even deadlier toll resulting from heart disease and obesity--directly related to our over consumption of junk food, meat, and animal products.

(Consult Pesticide Action Network North America http:www.panna.org They are dedicated to reducing the use of pesticides and promoting safer, more ecologically sound farming practices. They specifically oppose the commercial sale of crops genetically engineered to be herbicide tolerant.)

Global Warming; Global Climate Crisis

Global Warming, Are Risks Proportionate to Benefits?

If we love this planet and everything and everyone on it, I think this issue deserves our careful analysis. If there are over 900 scientific articles expressing no doubt about the reality of global warming, why in the corporate media do over 50% of the articles express doubt? How do we deal with inconvenience, to make an enormous understatement?

I suggest we start with Ignatius spirituality which helps us to achieve greater and greater inner spiritual freedom, freedom to keep our eyes wide open when what we see is inconvenient, even appalling. In our present system our success and the livelihood of those we love can depend on a particular industry that uses fossil fuels extensively. Our future can cloud our vision and affect our judgment. Global warming, global climate change, can be "an inconvenient truth." But global warming can affect the livelihood of all of us in a dramatic way.

Is it moral and ethical to rationalize global warming, to turn the page, to avoid thinking about the probability? Compare the risks of ignoring global warming to the benefits of economic gain and the convenience of doing what we?re used to. Rationalization benefits a few oil companies, agribusiness food production and delivery, the automobile industry, all of us in some way. But there are alternatives to offset the inconveniences and the risks are enormous. Extreme storms, floods, droughts. 40% of the world without half of their fresh water sources. Florida submerged, New York City, San Francisco, Alaska, the Netherlands, Beijing, Shanghai, etc; an ice age in the U.S.? There would be hundreds of millions of refugees! And the risks being taken by a few affect all of us. That?s not democratic nor in accord with our nature as persons. Examine the science at http://www.climatecrisis.net.

"To grow corn that cheap, you need more than just subsidies. [When the farmer gets a fair price which includes care of the environment, there won't be any need for subsidies.] You also need vast quantities of fossil fuel. The food industry consumes about 20 percent of imported petroleum, much of which goes to fertilize cornfields. Corn takes a great amount of nitrogen to grow, and the way we make artificial nitrogen is to turn natural gas into ammonium-nitrate fertilizer. So something else you're eating in that McDonald's meal is fossil fuel. A pound of beef takes a half gallon of oil to grow. A bushel of corn also takes about a half gallon. It takes ten calories of fossil-fuel energy to produce one calorie of food energy that way. So to eat that McDonald's meal, we need to keep the oil flowing. . .transporting food from distant farms requires fossil fuel and technologies to keep food fresh. . . grasslands have plenty of biodiversity and help lessen the greenhouse effect by reducing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. All plants take in carbon dioxide, sequester the carbon, and release the oxygen back into the air. What's important about grasses is that they sequester most of that carbon in the soil, and very little in their actual 'bodies.'" The Sun, May 2006, pp. 7-8. [Thus our food delivery system is a major cause of global warming and destabilization of the climate.] We do not have structures and sub-structures to deal with global warming in a democratic way, but the place to start is to avoid denial. With God?s help, we can change. Here at Xavier, let us create an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental vision of a stable and secure world, and then begin to move toward our vision.

There are many ways in which all of us can prevent global warming and have alternative sources of energy. On Xavier U. campus I recommend joining student clubs Earthbread/Earthcare. and registering for Environmental and Peace Studies.

There is another structure that we do not have about which we need education and discussion. Although it?s hardly a new idea, we need to be spiritual free to even consider it in the current climate of opinion. It?s a simple yet profound concept. "I represent a party which does not yet exist--the party of . . .civilization. . .There will come from it first a United States of Europe, and then a United States of the World. . . There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come." Victor Hugo. . By dialogue and visioning together, perhaps we can clarify what a democratic world order would look like if we had it. Is democratic world order absolutely necessary? Is it possible? What is the teaching of the Catholic Church and other religions on Democratic World Order? Is Democratic World Order part of a Consistent Ethic of Life? Is there a light graced story to our pilgrimage to Democratic World Order? What is the way forward toward making our dream a reality? Only a democratic global federation can give us a structure by which we can share water and the other resources of the earth.

Will an effective, just, and democratic world federation ever be created? According to the Catholic Church?s teaching on world peace, it should be. Our present duty is to begin the worldwide debate on how to create the best global system for achieving sustainable use of energy through enforceable world law, a common world ethic, non-violence toward the earth, enforcing our basic right to a healthy environment, creating economic democracy, and democratic world law.

Recommended Reading on a Democratic World Federation:

  • Father Ben Urmston?s website
  • Ronald Glossop. Confronting War: An Examination of Humanity?s Most Pressing Problem. McFarland and Company, 4th edition, 2001. World Federation: A Critical Analysis of World Federal Government. McFarland and Company, 1993.
  • Barbara Walker, ed. Uniting the Peoples and Nations: Readings in World Federation. World Federalist Association, 1993.
  • Jerry Tetalman and Byron Belitsos. One World Democracy: A Progressive Vision for Enforceable Global Law. Origin Press, 2005. (This is quite readable, comprehensive, and current.)
  • Mortimer J. Adler. How to Think About War and Peace. Simon and Schuster, 1943.
  • Greenville Clark and Louis Sohn. World Peace through World Law. Harvard University Press, 1960.
  • Benjamin Ferencz and Ken Keyes. Planethood: The Key to Your Future. Love Line Books, 1991.
  • David Oughton, The Implications of Henry Nelson Wieman?s Philosophy of Creative Interchange for World Peace. Ph.D. dissertation, Saint Louis University, 1998.

Food and the Environment

We need to reduce food miles. The average over-processed, over-packaged, chemically and genetically-contaminated food product in the US has traveled 1500 miles (burning up incredible amounts of non-renewable energy and releasing climate disrupting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere) before arriving at the supermarket. The single greatest cause of global warming and climate destabilization is industrial agriculture (i.e. non-organic, non-sustainable, non-locally produced).

Kentucky farmer and author Wendell Berry: "Industrialism is a way of thought based on monetary capital and technology; agrarianism is a way of thought based on land. An agrarian economy rises up from the fields, woods, and streams. It is not regional or national, let alone global, but local. It must know on intimate terms the local plants and animals and local soils."

Genetic contamination of organic crops by genetic drift from farms growing genetically engineered crops must be stopped. There is a growing international call, endorsed by the British Medical Association among others, for a global moratorium on genetically engineered foods and crops.

Billions of pounds of pesticides and nitrate fertilizers are contaminating more and more of the nation's municipal water supplies. The US has a food and water-related cancer epidemic (48% of all males and 38% of all females in the US can now look forward to getting cancer). There is an even deadlier toll resulting from heart disease and obesity--directly related to our over consumption of junk food, meat, and animal products.

(Consult Pesticide Action Network North America http:www.panna.org They are dedicated to reducing the use of pesticides and promoting safer, more ecologically sound farming practices. They specifically oppose the commercial sale of crops genetically engineered to be herbicide tolerant.)

In the New York Times Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2004 A 21 Duke University says: "It's time to get serious about global warming. Evidence from more than twenty years of peer-reviewed studies, including research by scientists from the Nicholas School at Duke, shows we are experiencing unprecedented environmental change. We, not nature, are the most significant agents of this change. On this, there is broad scientific consensus. Left unchecked, climate change will have far-reaching impacts on our lives . . .It is well past time for delay. Our children and grandchildren may look back one day and say the most controversial aspect of global warming was why it took us so long to do something to curb it."

Agroterrorism

Floyd Horn of the US Department of Agriculture calls agroterrorism on our nation's farms or its agricultural research facilities quite plausible. Chemical or biological attacks against food crops or livestock would be substantially easier and less risky to carry out than attacks on people. There are at least twenty-two germ agents that are lethal or contagious to animals. Overuse of antibiotics and steroids has lowered the natural tolerance of animals to disease and bred drug-resistant strains of germs. We need to change current large scale farming and marketing strategies. We need to promote small farm agriculture, sustainable agriculture and rural social justice, natural farming practices, smaller concentrations of livestock, less reliance on single varieties of seeds, less reliance on heavy dosages of antibiotics and the development of markets for products closer to where they are produced. (See National Catholic Reporter Nov. 9, 2001, pp. 8-9)

Gardening

For those who garden I recommend Spiritual Growth Through Domestic Gardening by Fr. Al Fritsch, S.J.

Bioengineered Seed

After World II, some scientists began what was called the "green revolution." Corporations produced hybrid seeds, built expensive farm machinery, manufactured chemical fertilizers and pesticides--all of which depended heavily on oil. It was an energy-intensive revolution. "Three kilocalories of fossil-fuel energy are required to produce just one kilocalorie of human food. Our soil is being eroded and our aquifers depleted at a cost of $17 billion per year. This does not include the more important social costs of farmers and the decline of whole rural communities." (World Hunger, Twelve Myths, p. 100) The green revolution increased the farmers' yield--at least temporarily. But critics bemoaned the depletion of the soil and often the degradation of the environment. They also questioned how healthy it was to eat food produced with so many chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

A small but significant number of farmers started to return to the traditional way of producing food "organically." Since organic farming was not as capital-intensive and energy-intensive, organic farmers felt their method was more sustainable in the long term, healthier, and better for the environment, more accord with nature than the green revolution.

The organic farming movement believes in a good livelihood for farmers and strong rural communities. Organic farming depends on energy from the sun and on natural biological processes for fertility and pest management.

Gene Revolution

As we enter into the twenty-first century, we are now faced with a "gene revolution." Traditionally, the movement of genes from one species to another has only been possible between closely-related species. Now scientists can remove genes from a trout or a mosquito and implant them into a tomato to delay ripening, or make for easier processing and shipping. Now scientists can take bacillus thuringiensis, the soil bacterium that produces the organic insecticide know as BT, and insert it into a potato gene. When a beetle eats a potato which now has BT inside it, the beetle dies. Although there might not be enough BT in the potato to kill us immediately, I can't imagine that a pesticide will be beneficial to us. At least I want to know I'm eating a potato with BT in it if I'm to make a reasonable choice. If a scientist can reassure me that eating a pesticide is not harmful to me, I'm all ears.

Organic farmers are concerned that pests will build up resistance to BT if it continues to be so widely used by the gene revolution. This will ruin the use of one of the few natural pesticides of organic farmers. Wind blows pollen from a field planted in bioengineered seed to a neighboring organic field contaminating it. The environment and ourselves become the guinea pigs for an enormous irreversible experiment.

Co-creators with God

I believe a farmer is a co-creator with God, a junior partner with God perfecting the original act of creation. Appropriate technology and organic farming works with nature, is regenerative and sustainable. I believe a scientist working to perfect appropriate technology and organic farming is also a co-creator with God.

We have the capacity to transform and in a certain sense create the world through our own work, but we can't forget that "this is always based on God's prior and original gift of the things that are. Instead of carrying out this role as cooperator with God in the work of creation, we can set ourselves up in place of God and thus provoke a rebellion on the part of nature." (Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, No. 37) "One cannot use with impunity the different categories of beings, whether living or inanimate--animals, plants, the natural elements--simply as one wishes, according to one's own economic needs. On the contrary, one must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system" (Pope John Paul II, Solicitudo Rei Socialis, No. 34)

Is the vastness of this enterprise in accord with nature or "against the grain." (I highly recommend Lappe and Bailey, Against the Grain, Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food.) There is an order in nature which has evolved over millions of years. Without prejudging what's happening, in principle I think science needs to work with nature, respect nature, not subvert it. If we abuse and manipulate God's creation, we are not working with God but usurping God's role. We are not working with nature but against nature. How tell the difference? To me, that's a matter for group spiritual discernment.

Labeling of Biotech Foods

Do you know whether you're eating food produced by biotechnology? Would it make a difference to you? Personally, I consider freedom to choose what I eat a basic freedom. To make that choice, I need food that is labeled and a distributor that I trust. With the concurrence of the US Food and Drug Administration, the biotech industry has decided we don't need to know we are now eating food which contains genes that are pesticides. They argue that there has been no substantial change. Millions of acres are now planted with seeds produced through biotechnology. Such farms are not registered. The food produced by them is not labeled.

Critics wonder how we will be able to trace the health and environmental effects of the gene revolution. Bumblebees carry grains of pollen from biotech plants to neighboring fields. Biological pollution is not like an oil spill that eventually disperses but more like a disease. Will corporations be held legally responsible when one of its transgenes creates a superweed or resistant insect?

Biotechnology creates new kinds of food that have never been digested before. Starlink corn which had only been approved for animal consumption became mixed with corn for human consumption. Will corporations be held responsible for this dangerous experiment?

The 1918 influenza virus started in pigs and killed between twenty and forty million civilians worldwide, many more than died in World War I. Xenotransplantation breaks the species boundary and may cause new infections that could bring about a global pandemic. (See the Campaign for Responsible Transplantation 212-579-3477, action alerts at http://www.crt-online.org.)

"There are over 1,600 different species of microorganisms in a teaspoon of soil. Figuring out their interdependencies is a huge task." (Laura Ticciati & Robin Ticciati, PhD Genetically Engineered Foods, Are They Safe? You Decide. 1998, p. 49)

The European Union has passed a law that requires labeling of genetically engineered foods. Scientists from the US FDA itself suspect that genetic engineering could make foods toxic. FDA scientists also warn that genetically engineered foods could produce a new protein allergen or enhance the synthesis of existing plant food allergens. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that when a gene from a Brazil nut was engineered into soybeans, people allergic to nuts had serious reactions. Without labeling, people with certain food allergies will not be able to know if they might be harmed by the food they're eating.

Many biotech foods are modified with antibiotic resistant genes. People who eat genetically modified foods may become more susceptible to bacterial infections. The British Medical Association said that antibiotic resistance is "one of the major public human health threats that will be faced in the 21st century."

President Clinton was beholden to campaign monies from biotech corporations. He told the FDA not to be concerned about biotech foods since they weren't substantially different.

Organic Consumers

The Organic Consumers Association promotes food safety and sustainable agriculture. It calls for a moratorium on genetically engineered foods; wants to stop factory farming; works for at least 30% organic production in US agriculture by 2010.

  • Action concerning Genetically Engineered Food http://www.geaction.org

Common Security

In February, 1999, a UN-backed summit of 174 nations met in Cartagena, Columbia, debating how to regulate trade in gene-engineered potatoes, cotton, grains and trees. Six nations blocked the rest of the world from agreeing on a treaty.

If we had democratic international law, citizens of the world could insure our common security. Now we have rule by the World Trade Organization which is a tribunal of corporate executives. Farmers in third world nations are being ruined.

Third world nations have to export more food to be able to pay their unfair debt. Now the US sets world prices.

Agricultural Diversity

Those who favor organic farming assert that agricultural ecosystems must become diversified again. Monoculture croping, growing acre upon acre of the same crop is unstable, subject to insect swarms, drought, and blight. Monocultures can only be sustained by intensive, expensive inputs of water, energy, chemicals, and machinery. Many see an urgent necessity of preserving biodiversity, in terms of food crops, animal breeds, and wild species.

Economic Democracy

In Laborem Exercens, On Human Work, (No. 14) Pope John Paul II states that the moral title to ownership is legitimate only if capital and land serves the people, is democratically controlled, and is treated with responsible stewardship. If only a few own the land, we call for land reform. If only a few own the seed-if the seed is not democratically controlled-if the seed is not being handed in a responsible way, I think we should call for seed reform. A farmer can't grow crops without land. Nor can she/he grow food or fibre without seed. Today seeds are made by large corporations through biotechnology. These seeds are patented and controlled legally by these same corporations. Farmers can be and are prosecuted if they try to use seeds from one crop for the next year as they always have through the centuries. In fact, through terminator technology, second-generation seeds can now be made sterile. A major issue is control of our world food supply by a small number of seed corporations.

If you have absolute trust in corporations and our government, there's no need to worry. If you feel you have a responsibility as a citizen or a stockholder, I suggest for your reading Marc Lappe and Britt Bailey, Against the Grain; Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food. To work for genuine democracy in the important choices facing us, I recommend Alliance for Democracy. You could also ask the Attorney General for legal action against seed monopolies: Attorney General, US Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC 20530

Many consider capital-intensive, energy-intensive farms of the green revolution as an enormous success if we consider the abundant yields the superfarm has given us. Others want democratic control of the land. They opt for appropriate technology and organic farming which is regenerative, sustainable, and safer for the consumer. Sustainable agriculture depends on energy from the sun and on natural biological processes for fertility and pest management. If the farmers lack fertile land, our supermarkets will be empty. At any one time we usually have about a two week supply of food. A blight or a man-made disaster like a nuclear war would empty our stores in a short time.

The US has ordered Iraqi farmers to buy bio-engineered seed from US corporations. The US has continually pressured Europe and Asia to use bio-engineered seed. These are other attempts to limit economic democracy.

Country of Origin Labeling

US consumers and independent producers have asked for many years that our food be labeled. Where is our food being produced and under what conditions? We know where our clothing is made. If our clothing is being produced in sweatshops, we want to know that. If our food is being grown in ways harmful to farmers, farm workers, the earth, not to mention ourselves, we want to know that. If animals are being treated cruelly, we want to know that. Country of origin labeling is required by most of our competitors. We should be proud to label all our food and farm products as Grown in the USA. If it isn't, we should know that.

World Hunger

Those who favor bioengineered food say the latter will solve world hunger. The chronic hunger of 800 million people doesn't make the evening news. Every day hunger and its related preventable diseases, kill as many as thirty-four thousand children under the age of five! That's twelve million children each year--more than the total number of people who died each year during World War II, equivalent to the number killed instantly by a Hiroshima bomb every three days! Hunger means the anguish of choosing between paying the mortgage and feeding your children. Hunger means the grief of watching people you love die. Hunger means humiliation and fear. I certainly want to end hunger as much as anyone.

What I suggest is research and social analysis beginning with the second edition of World Hunger, Twelve Myths by Frances Moore Lappe, Joseph Collins, and Peter Rosset with Luis Esparza. You may come to the same conclusion of the authors that the answer lies in economic democracy, local regions taking charge of their own food production and doing it in a sustainable way. The answer does not lie in self-deception and myths. "There's Simply Not Enough Food." "Nature's to Blame." "Too Many Mouths to Feed." "The Environment Would Suffer." "The Green Revolution Is the Answer." "Small farms are inefficient." "Free trade is the answer." "The poor don't have the know-how to feed themselves." "US aid can feed the hungry." "We will suffer if the poor are fed." "To feed the hungry means we have to give up our freedom."

Another book dealing with hunger and famine is Professor Amartya Sen, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics, Development as Freedom. "Inequality has an important role in the development of famines and other severe crises. Indeed the absence of democracy is in itself an inequality." p. 187 "famines can occur even without a large--or any--diminution of the total food supply." "Hunger can coexist with a plentiful supply of food in the economy and the markets. . .Famines are, in fact, so easy to prevent that it is amazing that they are allowed to occur at all. . . What makes widespread hunger even more of a tragedy is the way we have come to accept and tolerate it as an integral part of the modern world as if it is a tragedy that is essentially unpreventable. . . What is really remarkable is the smugness and inaction that characterizes the world reaction to extensive hunger. . .not only is the problem of world hunger decisively solvable, the greatest barrier to achieving a solution is the defeatist and baseless fear that we shall not succeed against so big a challenge."

Global agribusiness corporations, including those involved in genetic engineering, are driving self-sufficient farmers off their land and increasing poverty and hunger.

?Thanks to science and technology, human society is able to solve problems such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, or developing more just conditions of life but remains stubbornly unable to accomplish this. How can a booming economy, the most prosperous and global ever, still leave over half of humanity in poverty? ?We can no longer pretend that the inequalities and injustices of our world must be borne as part of the inevitable order of things. Is it now quite apparent that they are the result of what we ourselves in our selfishness have done. . Despite the opportunities offered by an ever more serviceable technology, we are simply not willing to pay the price of a more just and more human society. . Injustice is rooted in a spiritual problem, and its solution requires a spiritual conversion of each one?s heart and a cultural conversion of our global society so that humankind, with all the powerful means at its disposal, might exercise the will to change the sinful structures afflicting our world. . . We need a sustained interdisciplinary dialogue of research and reflection, a continuous pooling of expertise. The purpose is to assimilate experiences and insights according to their different disciplines in ?vision of knowledge which, well aware of its limitations, is not satisfied with fragments but tries to integrate them into a true and wise synthesis?? Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. spiritual leader of the Society of Jesus, Address at Santa Clara University, October, 2000.

Science and Biotechnology

From a report written by V.V. Raman at the Rochester Institute of Technology concerning the meeting of the Parliament of the World's Religions in Cape Town, South Africa, December, 1999. "The 'Walk Through Time' exhibit is a mile long tapestry of our planet's history, presented with colorful images, scientific depth, and consciousness-awakening commentaries. It highlights the fascinating geological and biological transformation that have occurred in this speck of ours in the cosmic expanse. Just inspecting it reminded me that there is something unique about our planet in that it harbors not just the throb of life, but a self-aware being, for in this creature called Homo Sapiens blind nature and the created multiplicity become beautiful, meaningful, and inquiry-worthy. Of what significance or charm would all this be were it not for an experiencing human spirit? The Walk, in which each foot corresponds to an eon, deserves to be displayed in every public school and mall across the country and all over the world. It adds poetry and majesty to the vision of science, and is certain to light a revelatory spark in any intelligent mind as to how humankind and microbe came to be.

Yet the exhibit also provoked a response to the effect that all this knowledge was wrought with grave danger. Genetic engineering and microbial manipulation could lead to irrevocable damage and disaster. This was a legitimate warning, but it was provoked by some misunderstanding as to what science is all about. Science is an effort to grasp and account for the multi-faceted splendor of the phenomenal world, not a project to manipulate knowledge for good or for evil. Scientists do bear responsibility towards the use of science, but so do philosophers, religionists, politicians, indeed all people who have any concern for the well-being of the human family and of life."

Scientists can be co-creators with God. Biotechnology has produced insulin for diabetes and medicine for those with heart trouble. It's not a question of being against all biotechnology in principle. It is a question of whether the gene revolution is going too fast, too soon, without being sufficiently tested, driven not by a desire to feed the world in a more nutritious and sustainable way but by a secret and elitist quest for greater profits.

I recommend the Union of Concerned Scientists, an alliance of 70,000 committed citizens and leading scientists who aim to "augment rigorous scientific research with public education and citizen advocacy to help build a cleaner, healthier environment and safer world." They study risks and benefits of the various applications of genetic engineering and support sustainable alternatives.

Responsibility of Farmers

Farmers should have the freedom to choose the kind of seed they will use and bear responsibility for the quality of the food produced and the effect their farming will have on the land and the interdependent systems in nature. Now the field planted by an organic farmer is exposed to pollen from a neighboring field planted with bioengineered seed. Now the monies given to extensive research in bioengineered seed are not matched by research into permaculture.

The National Family Farm Coalition has spearheaded a national "sign on statement" on genetic engineering in agriculture. Over thirty national, regional, and state farm groups have signed onto the statement. Demands include empowering consumers with the right to know whether their food is genetically engineered; banning the ownership of all forms of life including a ban on the patenting of seeds, plants, animals, genes, and cell lines; and ensuring that farmers who reject genetically modified organism will not bear the cost of establishing that their product is free of genetic engineering. The National Catholic Rural Life Conference joined farm groups from across the country in developing the statement. Farmers interested in signing onto the statement can find out more information from the National Family Farm Coalition.

Farmers who use bioengineered seed are losing export markets since others nations have doubts about bioengineered food. Farmers have to sign an agreement not to plant their old seed since corporations have expropriated the expertise of centuries of peasant farmers who always chose their best seed from the previous year. Genetically engineered seed is easier for the large farmer who needs many farm workers. Crops from bioengineered seed will withstand sprays of Roundup Ready. Weeds or pests will not. But critics say pests will build up resistance to BT.

Should the perpetrator be able to fine the victim? See one family farmer engaged in a David vs. Goliath struggle: A law that punishes the victim and rewards the perpetrator has to be changed. Unfortunately the Supreme Court of Canada has given a mixed decision 5 to 4 against Percy Schmeiser Percy does not have to pay Monsanto because he did not profit from the seed. However, the Court did rule that Monsanto owned the patent.

A former mayor and member of the Canadian Parliament, Percy Schmeiser has lost a life-time of saving seeds. "There is no such thing as containment of genetically modified organism farm production. There is no such thing as a buffer zone between a GMO field and a traditional field or an organic field. There is no such thing as co-existence of organic farmers and traditional farmers with GMO farmers." As human persons we should be free to make our own decisions about what kind of food we need to eat. The choice of consumers and of farmers has been taken away from them. GMO's will be able to contaminate the whole continent of Africa. GMO's result in reduction in yield, super-weeds and unknown environmental effects, and doubtful health and nutritional effects on the quality of our food. This massive GMO experiment which endangers the environment and human health has happened without the knowledge and consent of the American people or any people. This secret research often funded by the government enriches private individuals and gives five or six corporations control of the world's food supply. Seed reform is more important than land reform because it makes no difference who owns the land if a few greedy and ruthless men have control of the seed.

We have more than enough food to feed the world if we had a just economic system that provided at least the basic necessities for each human person. We need widespread and community ownership of the means of production, the factories and farms, the banks, insurance companies, the means of transportation, utilities. Research on basic life issues should be public and open.

Moral Evaluation

Thus how do we proceed to answer the moral, scientific, social issues involved? I would suggest a holistic, interdisciplinary, spiritual approach somewhat similar to that taken by Christian Life Communities and other faith-based or value-based communities. We are all sinners, prone to rationalization and self-deception. We all have vested interests. In a process of communal spiritual discernment we can better identify our inordinate attachments. A farmer next to a field which is using Roundup Ready can have her/his crops destroyed by pesticide drift. Roundup Ready can mean more money for the superfarm who hires many farm workers. Roundup Ready means more money and control for the seed company. Roundup Ready is simpler to use. On a short-term basis, biotechnology can be seductive both to the corporation and to the farmer.

Is the starting point of our reflection our love for God, our neighbor, and the earth? How we can make this a better world? Or do we begin with a desire for an expensive home, to be well-off financially, etc, and then say to ourselves, "Sure God won't object to my ambition."

Each of our eyes has a blind spot. Since the field of vision of our two eyes overlap, we have a large area of two-eyed vision. The blind spot in one eye is overlapped by s seeing portion of the other eye. If both eyes are open and functioning, there are no gaps in our visual field. We can have blind spots in our conscience also. St. Ignatius dealt with these with detailed procedures for spiritual discernment. We best do spiritual discernment with a companion or with a small discerning group such as a Christian Life Community. What we don't see by ourselves, others can help us with.

Jesuit theologian Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J. believes gnoseological concupiscence can lead to immoral decisions. Theological Investigations, Vol. XIII, "Interdisciplinary Dialogue with Sciences" (1975) "Every scientist is prone to the temptation of failing to listen to others, or being willing to hear only what is confirmed for her/him in her/his own science. Hence the strange attitude of aggression which prevails among scientists even when it is concealed by a mask of conventional politeness." (p. 83) "gnoseological concupiscence is the mortal danger inherent in every science of according itself an absolute value and of supposing that the key which it carries within itself will fit every door." Rahner admits that theology also can fail to listen and not acknowledge its need for the sciences.

In The Challenge of Peace (No. 152) the US Catholic bishops deal with probability and risk in regard to a limited nuclear war. "The chances of keeping use limited seem remote, and the consequences of escalation to mass destruction seem appalling." The danger arises not only from the power of our technology "but in the weakness and sinfulness of human communities."

As I see it, the enormity of the risk in using bioengineered seed is not proportionate to the probability of success or the good to be achieved. Some feel the risks are minimal. In their minds, if we wait until we are absolutely certain, we may lose a whole technology, a new industrial revolution. But many scientists feel the risks are enormous. Until we have a greater consensus, as a world I don't think we should proceed on the massive scale that we have.

Jonathan Schell deals with biogenics in his chapter on "The Second Death" in The Fate of the Earth. Schell points out that by nature Einstein was "the gentlest of men, and by conviction he was a pacifist, yet he made intellectual discoveries that led the way to the invention of weapons with which the species could exterminate itself. " . . . "Only a few decades ago it might have seemed that physics, which had just placed nuclear energy at man's disposal, was the dangerous branch of science, while biology, which underlay improvements in medicine and also helped us to understand our dependence on the natural environment, was the beneficial branch; but now that biologists have begun to fathom the secrets of genetics, and to tamper with the genetic substance of life directly, we cannot be so sure."

As I have said, I think our weakness and sinfulness exposes all of us to self-deception, rationalizations, illusions, psychic numbing and false perceptions. The US Surgeon General has just pointed out the large number of Americans suffering from mental illness. Without being presumptuous, can I ask how many of us have some sort of psychological weakness that we cope with but would not be enough to classify as a disability? Indeed, some psychologists have even asserted that US culture has a kind of collective psychosis. (See Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, Indefensible Weapons, 1982) I certainly believe our culture suffers from massive self-deception. If any nation needs a truth commission, it's the US.

Should corporations be permitted to patent life? Where do they get the moral authority to do this? Should research into basic forms of life be public and open?

For further information check the following web sites:

WHY SHOULD GMO SEEDS NOT BE INTRODUCED INTO ZAMBIA?

The argument is straightforward: Food security in Zambia for all Zambians requires sustainable agriculture. GMOs will have a negative impact on Zambia?s sustainable agriculture. Therefore GMOs should not be introduced into Zambia.

But would this not cause great hunger right now in Zambia? The position is very clear: The critical point of debate and decision must be that the very serious problem of food consumption (the presence of hunger) must not be dealt with in ways that create even more serious problems of food production (the destruction of agricultural infrastructure).Do not deal with a serious short-term problem in ways that bring an even greater long-term problem

But is there any alternative to meeting the immediate short-term problem of hunger? Yes, there is and Zambia should immediately act: Contact African countries in the region that now have white non-GMO maize for sale, such as Kenya.

Request that any GMO-maize imported into the country as relief be milled outside the country.

But will not this cost extra money that Zambia does not have?

In a humanitarian crisis such as Zambia?s hunger situation, generous response can and should be expected:

  • Donors from Europe can be asked for immediate assistance and have already expressed their concern and readiness.
  • The USA can be asked to convert their ?donation? into the safe-way that Zambia wants and deserves, both by milling GMO maize and by purchasing non-GMO maize.

But will this not delay meeting our great crisis right now?

No, not if the Zambian government, backed by the Zambian people, make very clear both our demands to meet the present need for help and our desires to meet the future need of sustainable agriculture.

12 August 2002

SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE GMO MAIZE DEBATE IN ZAMBIA AND WIDER

KATC and JCTR began discussion about GMOs almost two years ago, with interest in what impact moving in this direction would have on the small-scale farmer, who produces 80% of Zambia?s food. Our concern was and is based on principles of the church?s social teaching such as emphasis on basic human rights, an option for the poor, the economy serving the people, participation in decision making, etc.

The specific KATC/JCTR study was commissioned over six months ago, long before the controversy about USA offer erupted. The focus of our study has been primarily on implications for sustainable agriculture in Zambia, the necessary prerequisite for food security in the country. We have not focused strongly on the food safety questions, as others have done that.
Our recommendation to Government to turn down the USA offer is based on our scientific study, which concludes that the acceptance of GMO ?relief? maize raises the clear and present danger of introducing GMOs into our agricultural system, with consequences for small-scale farmers? ability to maintain their contribution to Zambia?s food security, destruction of organic farming capabilities, and loss of European markets.

Operating on the grounds of the ?precautionary principle,? we therefore have urged that GMO maize be kept out of the country ? unless and until the aforementioned consequences to our agricultural infrastructure are adequately dealt with. That is why we have supported quicker action by Government into adopt a Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy.

Keenly aware of the current crisis of food shortage, we have supported Government?s efforts to source non-GMO maize, both within the country and from neighbouring countries (e.g., Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique). Moreover, we believe that major cooperating partners such as the EU and the USA can and should respond according to the Government?s commitments to protect Zambian interests. Only as a last resort would we consider ?milled? GMO maize being brought in ? we still have the legitimate questions about its safety

Indeed, we find perplexing and disturbing the current reaction to the Government?s decision by ?friends? ? e.g., castigation of the Government for not caring about the people, high-level pressures exerted both inside and outside the country to get the Government to change its position, outside media campaign against Zambia?s decision, etc.

Honest questions can surely be asked as to why the IMF is pushing so hard for a change, why the WFP is unwilling to accept Zambia?s position, why the USA will limit its assistance to ?loans made to commercial millers.?

We are aware that some of the anti-GMO debate has degenerated into name-calling and conspiracy theories and raises scientific points that can be legitimately questioned. But that should in no way be allowed to distract from the very substantial arguments being raised on keen scientific and ethical grounds. We therefore urge an open and accountable debate, with respect for the integrity of Zambia?s official position.

Pete Henriot, S.J. 26 August 2002

Patenting of Life

"The academic and research communities are primarily concerned about whether the patenting process would destroy the free and open exchange of information that has been the hallmark of excellence in research." Dr. Krishna R. Dronamraju, Foundation for Genetic Research, Texas, USA, Biological and Social Issues in Biotechnology Sharing
p.108 (See also pp. 66, 79, 88, 94)

How can we invent something that already exists in nature? Isn't it a discovery, not an invention?

Some feel that intellectual property rights should respect the rights of traditional cultures. Compensation is due traditional knowledge developed by peasant farmers, practitioners of indigenous medicine, and third world nations. Since in many indigenous societies property is communal, rewards can be collective.

"There are inadequate measures to compensate indigenous tribes and farmers in the developing countries who preserved traditional knowledge and biological resources for centuries. Such knowledge has been commercially exploited by the developed countries, at first under colonial rule and later through the multinational companies." (Ibid, p142)

Noam Chomsky feels that GATT and NAFTA protect the power of patents. "Patents are designed to insure that the technology of the future is in the hands of transnational corporations and they want to be publicly subsidized in research and development." "India can produce drugs at a fraction of the cost of what Merck would like to price to sell. In fact, drug prices are way lower in India than in Pakistan next door because India happened to develop its own pharmaceutical industry. The American corporations don't like that. . .They want more profit, which means more children die in India. They want to make sure that India doesn't produce drugs at less than the cost of American drugs." (Ibid. p. 147)

"For thousands of years people in the south have been developing crops. They don't own them. They don't get any rights from that. . .they have the rich gene pool and the thousands of years of experience in creating hybrids and figuring out what herb works. Then western corporations go in and take it for nothing. .They minimally modify it and sell it to them. They patent it. It is a scam designed to rob the poor and enrich the rich, like most social policy. . .The people who make social policy make it in their interest. They wouldn't be in a position to make social policy if they weren't rich and privileged. People suffer." (Ibid. p. 148)

A Decision for All?

Another group working for economic democracy is The Alliance for Democracy http://afd-on-line.org begun in 1995 by Ronnie Dugger, journalist and writer. The Alliance for Democracy is concerned that giant corporations will break free of community and democratic control, pursue wealth without limits, and ignore responsibility to the national and international common good. The Alliance for Democracy is concerned that we are now dominated by a corporate oligarchy which controls our food production.

Scripture and the teaching of the main-line churches have always emphasized the dignity, value, and worth of each human person as well as the integrity of God?s physical creation. Everyone should have the freedom to choose the kind of food they eat and bear the responsibility for the effect it will have on themselves, on those they love, and on the environment. Failing to respect the integrity of creation is a violation of the Seventh Commandment. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2415.)

To make moral choices the people need adequate information, indeed a thorough and balanced educational program. I think the moral principle involved is proportionality. Are there minimal risks or enormous risks? Does everyone benefit or only a few? What kind of certainty or uncertainty do we have? Are there alternatives?

The questions involved are scientific but also social and moral. I think addressing these questions needs a wholistic, interdisciplinary, spiritual approach somewhat similar to that taken by faith-based discerning communities. We are all sinners. We all have vested interests. We need spiritual discernment to minimize self-deception and rationalizations.

If after loving and rational discourse a reasonable consensus is not reached, the greater the risk the greater the certainty needed before we proceed on a large scale.

The Catholic Church has said that we have the right to consumer property like the clothes we wear and the food we eat. The Church has also said everyone has the right to productive property like the factories which make clothes and farms that grow food. However, property has a social aspect as well as a private aspect. If I own an automobile, I have the responsibility not to drive recklessly. (See Pope John XXIII, Mater and Magister, No. 19)

We have the capacity to transform and in a certain sense create the world through our own work, but we can?t forget that ?this is always based on God?s prior and original gift of the things that are. Instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation we can set ourselves up in place of God and thus provoke a rebellion on the part of nature.?(Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, No. 37) ?One cannot use with impunity the different categories of beings, whether living or inanimate?animals, plants, the natural elements?simply as one wishes, according to one?s own economic needs. On the contrary, one must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system.? (Pope John Paul II, Solicitudo Rei Socialis. No. 34)

For those willing to accept a challenge, Pope John Paul II has an excellent treatment of the priority of labor over capital in On Human Labor. No. 14 makes clear the primacy of work over ownership and the necessity for owners to distribute their product to all. "Property is acquired through work in order that it may serve work. This concerns in a special way ownership of the means of production. Isolating these means as a separate property in the form of 'capital' in opposition to 'labor' and even to practice exploitation of labor is contrary to the very nature of these means and their possession. They cannot be possessed against labor, they cannot even be possessed for possession's sake, because the only legitimate title to their possession--whether in the form of private ownership or in the form of public or collective ownership--is that they should serve labor and thus by serving labor that they should make possible the achievement of the first principle of this order, namely the universal destination of goods, and the right to common use of them. . one cannot exclude the socialization, in suitable conditions, of certain means of production." (See also Pope Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, No. 23)

In this context, should we permit private ownership of the genes that are the sources of life? Should private individuals develop these important sources of life in secrecy for private gain? Shouldn't such basic decisions be made by the people and not just the wealthy and the powerful?

Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria, S.J., one of the Jesuits murdered in El Salvador in 1989, thought that as a human family we have not yet reached the beginning, the starting line. The natural resources of the earth should be for all. "Only because of greed and selfishness, connatural to original sin can it be said that private ownership of property is the best guarantee of productive advancement and social order. But if 'where sin abounded, grace abounded more' is to have historical verification, it is necessary to proclaim utopianly that new earth with new human beings must be shaped with principles of greater altruism and solidarity. The present order based on the accumulation of private capital and material wealth could be considered as a prehistoric and prehuman stage." Ignacio Ellacuria, "Utopia and Prophecy in Latin America" Towards a Society that Serves Its People, 62,63)

Seed is productive property. Such an important commodity should be a common resource available to all. The quality of seed and the diversity of seed cannot be determined secretly by a few private individuals for their exclusive profit. "The goods of creation are destined for all. The common good takes precedence over an individual's right to private property. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2402, 3)

Prudence Urged for Genetically Modified Organisms

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 12, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The field of genetically modified organisms "must not be abandoned, although it needs much care," said a Vatican official at the conclusion of an international symposium.

Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, concluded the two-day symposium by saying that the Holy See will give its ethical judgment on the matter of GMOs. He said the pontifical council "will not fail to offer its contribution to enlighten consciences so that plant biotechnologies are an opportunity for all, not a threat." The symposium, held Monday and Tuesday, attracted 60 representatives of the world of science, politics, industry and trade, international bodies, and consumer associations. The pontifical council will keep, among other things, three elements in mind, Cardinal Martino said: "Solidarity in trade relations among nations; ? environmental safety and the health of all; ? [and] understanding between the scientific world, civil society, and political authorities at the national and international level." He said that "the symposium has been a first instance of study on a path which the Holy See hopes to travel with prudence, serenity and in truth, to respond to the widespread expectations present in the Church, the scientific world and in our society in general."

13-November-2003 -- Catholic World News Brief

JESUITS IN ZAMBIA PROTEST VATICAN APPROVAL FOR GMOS

Lusaka, Nov. 13 (CWNews.com) - Two Jesuit priests have sharply criticized the results of a Vatican seminar that gave cautious approval for the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as a source of food.

Fathers Roland Lessesps and Peter Henriot, both Jesuits working in Lusaka, Zambia, said that the Vatican seminar had been designed deliberately to approve GMO use. They argued that their own "deep concerns based on practical experiences" were not reflected by the international panel of 67 scientists who had discussed the issue in Rome.

The two Jesuits repeated arguments that they had introduced in the past, saying that GMOs could make Third World countries overly dependent on products from the industrialized world. They also suggested that the use of GMOs might produce environmental damage.

The Vatican seminar was convened largely as a response to these arguments. The GMO debate came to a head when Zambia-- under the influence of the Jesuits' arguments-- refused to accept food aid that included GMOs.

The Vatican seminar concluded that the potential for GMOs to ease problems of world hunger should weigh heavily in favor of their use.

Food for Controversy Genetically Modified Organisms Under Scrutiny

By Delia Gallagher

ROME, DEC. 4, 2003 .- The recent Vatican conference on genetically modified foods (or organisms) brought together 67 international experts to discuss "GMOs: Threat or Hope" at a closed-door meeting at the Palazzo San Callisto.

The palazzo is the seat of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which sponsored the event. Cardinal Renato Martino, in his opening remarks to the conference, claimed that even the Holy See felt the "pressures coming from multiple fonts and bearers of diverse, and in some ways incompatible, needs," on the question of genetically modified foods.

"We are fully aware," said the cardinal, "that what is at stake is high and delicate, for the polarization that divides public opinion, for the commercial contentions that exist at the international level, for the difficulty of defining, at the scientific level, a matter that is the subject of research in rapid evolution, for the complex ethno-cultural and ethno-political implications."

The conference itself suffered from polarization, according to some of the participants.

Margaret Mellon, an American scientist of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the conference was "weighed in favor of those in favor."

Doreen Stabinsky, a scientist for Greenpeace and one of the speakers at the conference, agreed.

"I was not initially invited to speak," Stabinsky told me. "Our executive director was invited and asked if he could send me, since he was not a scientist. He was initially told no."

"I think they [the organizers] wanted to have a panel with scientists who were in favor, and non-scientists who were not, so they could say that all the critics are non-scientists and make the position look weak," Stabinsky said.

"At this morning's session," continued Stabinsky, "there were five speakers and only one was critical of GMOs."

One critical speaker is Father Roland Lesseps, a scientist in Zambia who was for many years a professor at Loyola University in New Orleans.

Zambia, and the Jesuits there, were a catalyst for increased debate over genetically modified foods as a means to relieve famine. In the summer of 2002 Zambia rejected aid offered by the United States in the form of genetically modified corn. This refusal was encouraged by the Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection in Zambia, led by American Jesuit Pete Henriot.

"The Jesuits in Zambia," James Nicholson, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, told me during an interview, "said better that 2 million die today, than 20 million in 10 years."

Ambassador Nicholson has been a fervent supporter of genetically modified foods in Africa. Though the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See was not involved in the organization of the GMO conference, it has held three conferences on the subject for Vatican diplomatic corps representatives this past year.

"Resistance is a mixed bag of hypersensitivity to food safety, and a European agenda of protectionism," continued the ambassador. "Meanwhile people are dying in Africa."

Father Lesseps sees things differently. In a summary of his presentation to the conference, he said that the question of GMOs is "frequently and mistakenly put as an either-or choice of feeding a hungry world."

"There are other and more suitable ways to feed a hungry world than adopting a potentially dangerous technocratic approach," Father Lesseps said. "Food is not merely another economic commodity governed in its production and distribution by the laws of the market."

According to him, "genetic modification does not meet the tests of the social teaching of the Church for genuine integral development that respects human rights and the order of creation."

While genetically modified foods may be hotly debated, one conference participant gave powerful testimony to the good that other organisms genetically modified, in this case cotton, can bring.

Thandiwe Myeni is a widowed mother of five and a school principal in Makhatini, South Africa. Since 1994, she has been a cotton farmer. In 1999, she began using insect-resistant BT cotton in addition to traditional seed.

"My experience demonstrated," said Myeni, "that BT cotton seeds resulted in 9 bales per ha [hectare], as compared to non-BT which produced 4 bales per ha. The BT plants had a significantly reduced cost in pesticide as well. Labor which would have been spent on spraying for the traditional seed, was able to be redirected to harvesting more cotton. This also reduced exposure to the toxic chemicals used in the spray."

According to Myeni, "Farmers in the Makhatini area are enthusiastic about the use of BT cotton, as it results in increased yield and profit for farmers, with less labor and time needed."

"The use of GM cotton seed has changed my life, allowing me to improve my home and farm," she said.

Such news may not appease critics who claim that the biggest problem with GMOs is that it creates a dependence of poor farmers on American companies who produce the seeds.

Ambassador Nicholson is not swayed. "They don't have to keep using it if it's not to their advantage," he said.

Summary, Should We Redesign Life?

We all eat. How many study and investigate under what conditions our food is produced? Have we heard the stories of farmers, farm workers, food processors, factory farms, environmentalists?

Are students who graduate from universities illiterate concerning food and farm issues? If so, I propose that universities plan an interdisciplinary course centering on this crucial topic. Or at least that this topic be part of the Core Curriculum.

I have a vision of five major pieces, or pillars, that we need to focus on to build a just world: a global ethic; a culture of non-violence; basic human rights; new economic structures; a global democratic political entity. Seed reform would be part of all five pillars. In what way, if any, should we redesign life? Should we redesign structures that promote life? The context of this discussion of bio-engineered seed is a food delivery system that is dependent on fossil fuels.

  1. Whether we should redesign life is not just an intellectual problem but a spiritual one. The purpose of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, is to make decisions in the Spirit, decisions not dominated by inner insecurities, self-deception, addictions, negative drives, or disordered affections. Science may be objective, but scientists are not. Scientists are human, imperfect, finite. Scientists have vested interests, can rationalize, be arrogant. Jesuit theologian Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J. believed gnoseological consupiscence can lead to immoral decisions. ?Every scientist is prone to the temptation of failing to listen to others, or being willing to hear only what is confirmed for her/him in one?s own science. . gnoseological consupiscence is the mortal danger inherent in every science of according itself an absolute value and of supposing that the key which it carries within itself will fit every door.?. (Theological Investigations, Vol. XIII, ?Interdisciplinary Dialogue with Sciences.?) We need more than one key.

    The US Catholic Bishops add the dimension of original or group sinfulness. In regard to a limited nuclear war they say: ?The chances of keeping nuclear war limited seem remote, and the consequences of escalation to mass destruction seem appalling.? The danger arises not only from the power of our technology ?but in the weakness and sinfulness of human communities.? (Challenge of Peace, No. 152)

    Because all of nature is interconnected, can we say wrongful manipulation of sources of life can lead to mass destruction? Responsible scientists see our food delivery system as a major contributor to global warming. As I see it, bio-engineered seed furthers monoculture, furthers the present system. All of us need enough spiritual freedom to be even open to food and farm issues. How can there be anything wrong with food that tastes so good, is so abundant, and is so cheap?

    Do we have enough spiritual freedom to question our present food delivery system? We are all dependent on the present institutions. We?re used to it. We like it. Even if we see defects in our food and farm structures, it?s hard to find practical alternatives to the current institutions such as Community Supported Agriculture. We need prayer and God?s grace to give us inner freedom. Do we find our basic security in God?s love? Do we trust God?s plan for us? My main concern is that we have a process of open dialogue. Those who favor bio-engineered food are not talking to those who see dangers and risks. St. Thomas Aquinas rightly says that error is in the will, not in the function of our minds.

    Vandana Shiva, eco-feminist from India says in regard to Genetically engineered Vitamen A Rice: ?Promoting vitamin A rice as a cure for blindness while ignoring safer, cheaper, available alternatives provided by our rich agrobiodiversity is nothing short of a blind approach to blindness control.? Redesigning Life? The Worldwide Challenge to Genetic Engineering p. 43. Whether we should redesign life is a spiritual problem.
  2. Choosing seed that leads to healthy life and a healthy planet is a moral value. God wants us to take reasonable care of our health, of the health of others. God wants us to be stewards of the planet on which we live. God wants us to make basic decisions that promote life, our life, the life of our neighbor, indeed the life of the planet on which we live.

    The European Union requires the labeling of products that contain any genetically modified substance, so that people can know what they are buying and make a moral choice. There is a reasonable doubt that bioengineered seed promotes human health or promotes a healthy environment. When in doubt we need to err on the side of life.

    The production of healthy seed can be controlled by laws. The production of healthy seed can better be controlled by ownership. The source of life is a basic commodity which should be owned in common by all of us, not controlled by a few in secret for private gain. The oceans, space, water, seed, should be owned in common.

    ?The poorest two-thirds of humanity live in what can be appropriately called the biodiversity-based economy. As farmers, they select and save their own seeds. As healers, they protect and use medicinal plants. Both the knowledge and the resource are part of an intellectual and biological commons to which the entire community has free access, and there is a long-surviving tradition of free give-and-take.

    Biopiracy, and patents based on it, are equivalent to enclosing the biological and intellectual commons, while dispossessing the original innovators and users. What was available to them freely and what they have contributed to is converted into a priced commodity, and they will have to pay royalties each time they use it. The duty to exchange and save seed is thus redefined as theft and an intellectual property crime.

    The enclosure of the intellectual and biological commons through patents thus creates both material and intellectual poverty for two-thirds of humanity?the poor in the Third World.

    For the corporations and scientist engaged in biopiracy, patents can become an immediate source of wealth.? Redesigning Life? The Worldwide Challenge to Genetic Engineering p. 283. Vandana Shiva.

    Does patenting prevent free and open collective research? (Dr. Krishna R. Donamraju)

    I question the morality of patenting life and the so-called free trade agreements.

    A farmer is a co-creator with God, a junior partner with God perfecting the original act of creation. Appropriate technology and organic farming works with nature, is regenerative and sustainable. A scientist working to perfect appropriate technology and organic farming is a co-creator with God. We have the capacity to transform and in a certain sense create the world through our work, but we can?t forget that ?this is always based on God?s prior and original gift of the things that are. Instead of carrying out this role as cooperator with God in the work of creation, we can set ourselves up in place of God and thus provoke a rebellion on the part of nature.? The late Pope John Paul II, Centesinmus Annus, No. 37) ?One cannot use with impunity the different categories of beings, whether living or inanimate?animals, plants, the natural elements?simply as one wishes, according to one?s own economic needs. On the contrary, one must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system.? (Pope John Paul II, Solicitudo Rei Socialis, No. 34) There is an order in nature which has evolved over millions of years. Scientists need to work with nature, respect nature, dialogue openly on what is in accord with nature, in an interdisciplinary way. We have a vulnerable food system. We need food security.
  3. We will best address the issue of how our food is produced in a small faith-based community like Christian Life Community that studies all aspects of our food system in an interdisciplinary and open way. Questions to aid our analysis are: Who is making the decisions about how our food is produced? Who is benefiting from those decisions? Who is taking most of the risks of those decisions? Are there minimal risks or enormous risks? Does everyone benefit or only a few? What kind of certainty or uncertainty do we have? Are there alternatives?

    Genetic engineering has given longer shelf life, higher sugar content, more controlled ripening of tomatoes, initially easier resistance to insects. Genetically modified organisms have made aesthetic changes in products to make them look better to the consumer. GMO?s make it easier to control weeds at least temporarily. GMO?s have made a lot of money for corporations and have given them greater control of our food system. There is doubt about the health and environmental consequences of bio-engineered food. There is no doubt about the risk to our democracy.

World Hunger

Those who favor bioengineered food say the latter will solve world hunger. The chronic hunger of 800 million people doesn't make the evening news. Every day hunger and its related preventable diseases, kill as many as thirty-four thousand children under the age of five! That's twelve million children each year--more than the total number of people who died each year during World War II, equivalent to the number killed instantly by a Hiroshima bomb every three days! Hunger means the anguish of choosing between paying the mortgage and feeding your children. Hunger means the grief of watching people you love die. Hunger means humiliation and fear. I certainly want to end hunger as much as anyone.

What I suggest is research and social analysis beginning with the second edition of World Hunger, Twelve Myths by Frances Moore Lappe, Joseph Collins, and Peter Rosset with Luis Esparza. You may come to the same conclusion of the authors that the answer to hunger lies in economic democracy, local regions taking charge of their own food production and doing it in a sustainable way. The answer does not lie in self-deception and myths. Each of the following myths are studied in detail. "There's Simply Not Enough Food." "Nature's to Blame." "Too Many Mouths to Feed." "The Environment Would Suffer." "The Green Revolution Is the Answer." "Small farms are inefficient." "Free trade is the answer." "The poor don't have the know-how to feed themselves." "US aid can feed the hungry." "We will suffer if the poor are fed." "To feed the hungry means we have to give up our freedom."

Another book dealing with hunger and famine is Professor Amartya Sen, winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics, Development as Freedom. "Inequality has an important role in the development of famines and other severe crises. Indeed the absence of democracy is in itself an inequality." p. 187 "famines can occur even without a large--or any--diminution of the total food supply." "Hunger can coexist with a plentiful supply of food in the economy and the markets. . .Famines are, in fact, so easy to prevent that it is amazing that they are allowed to occur at all. . . What makes widespread hunger even more of a tragedy is the way we have come to accept and tolerate it as an integral part of the modern world as if it is a tragedy that is essentially unpreventable. . . What is really remarkable is the smugness and inaction that characterizes the world reaction to extensive hunger. . .not only is the problem of world hunger decisively solvable, the greatest barrier to achieving a solution is the defeatist and baseless fear that we shall not succeed against so big a challenge."

Global agribusiness corporations, including those involved in genetic engineering, are driving self-sufficient farmers off their land and increasing poverty and hunger.

?Thanks to science and technology, human society is able to solve problems such as feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, or developing more just conditions of life but remains stubbornly unable to accomplish this. How can a booming economy, the most prosperous and global ever, still leave over half of humanity in poverty? ?We can no longer pretend that the inequalities and injustices of our world must be borne as part of the inevitable order of things. Is it now quite apparent that they are the result of what we ourselves in our selfishness have done. . Despite the opportunities offered by an ever more serviceable technology, we are simply not willing to pay the price of a more just and more humane society. . Injustice is rooted in a spiritual problem, and its solution requires a spiritual conversion of each one?s heart and a cultural conversion of our global society so that humankind, with all the powerful means at its disposal, might exercise the will to change the sinful structures afflicting our world. . . We need a sustained interdisciplinary dialogue of research and reflection, a continuous pooling of expertise. The purpose is to assimilate experiences and insights according to their different disciplines in ?vision of knowledge which, well aware of its limitations, is not satisfied with fragments but tries to integrate them into a true and wise synthesis?? Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J. spiritual leader of the Society of Jesus, Address at Santa Clara University, October, 2000.

Independent research has shown enormous risks to our health, our planet, and our democracy! ( Union of Concerned Scientists ?Gone to Seed? GE DNA is contaminating US seeds of corn, soybeans and canola. National Academy of Science:. Preventing contamination of non-GE crops is not possible in most cases. Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility. The usage of pesticides first falls but then climbs steadily as resistance increases. Monoculture is subject to insect swarms, drought, blight, and agro-terrorism.

?People are fighting bioengineered foods for very real?and very serious?reasons. Evidence is growing that genetically engineered foods are not safe. At least one tragedy has occurred, when a genetically engineered dietary supplement approved by the Food and Drug Administration, L-tryptophan, killed twenty-seven people and injured 1,500 in 1990. (Fox, Superpigs and Wondercorn, p. 13) Even without the help of genetic engineering, agribusiness has already gained excessive control of the world?s food system, compromised nutrition, poisoned the environment, and contributed to rising cancer rates. The full impact on human and environmental health of a genetically engineered food system is simply and undeniably unforeseeable.? (Redesigning Life? Worldwide Challenge to Genetic Engineering, p. 63)

The US has ordered Iraqi farmers to buy bio-engineered seed from US corporations and has continually pressured other nations to use GMO?s. Is that democratic?

Global agribusiness corporations, including those involved in genetic engineering, are driving self-sufficient farmers off their land and increasing poverty and hunger.

We have more than enough food to feed the world if we had a just economic system that provided at least the basic necessities for each human person. We need widespread and community ownership of the means of production, the factories and farms.

To me, the enormity of the risk in using bioengineered seed is not proportionate to the probability of success or the good to be achieved. Some feel the risks are minimal. In their minds, if we wait until we are absolutely certain, we may lose a whole technology, a new industrial revolution. But other more independent scientists say the risks are enormous. Not many doubt the risk to our democracy. Until we have a greater consensus, as a human family we should not proceed on the massive scale that we have. ?To minimize environmental degradation and health impacts, the precautionary principle is the overriding principle guiding action, shifting the burden of proof from one of proving environmental harm to one of proving environmental safety.? Principles for Global Corporate Responsibility The Corporate Examiner Vol. 31. No. 4-6. Two books that outline present risks are Marc Lappe, Ph.D. and Britt Bailey, Against the Grain, Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food; Redesigning Life? The Worldwide Challenge to Genetic Engineering, Edited by Brian Tokar Also see Fr. Peter Henriot, S.J. Sojourners Apr. 2, 2005, ?The Zambia Experience?

See Food First web-site under genetically modified food http://www.foodfirst.org/progs/global/ge/

The Independent Science Panel (ISP) released a report critical of genetically modified (GM) food and crops because of potential risks to human health and the environment, while making the case that better ways are readily available to produce food in a sustainable way.

Based on more than 200 references to primary and secondary sources, the ISP report, The Case for a GM-Free Sustainable World, is a complete dossier of evidence on the known problems and hazards of GM crops as well as the manifold benefits of sustainable agriculture. This report comes at a time when governments have failed to conduct adequate health and safety tests.

The independent Science Panel (ISP), http://www.indsp.org, consists of prominent scientists from seven countries, spanning the disciplines of agroecology, agronomy, biomathematics, botany, chemical medicine, ecology, histopathology, microbial ecology, molecular biology, molecular genetics, nutritional biochemistry, physiology, toxicology and virology. Food First Books:

Genetic Engineering in Agriculture: The Myths, Environmental Risks, and Alternatives

order your copy of the book © Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy 398 60th Street, Oakland, CA 94618 USA Tel: 510-654-4400 Fax: 510-654-4551 Email: foodfirst@foodfirst.org

Challenging Industrialized Ag and Biotech > 2003 Sacramento Ministerial > Voices from the South Debate on Agriculture, Hunger and Biotechnology Genetic Pollution in Mexico's Center of Maize Diversity Anatomy of a Gene Spill Case for a GM-Free Sustainable World

Genetic Engineering in Agriculture: The Myths, Environmental Risks, and Alternatives Voices from the South

The Third World Debunks Corporate Myths on Genetically Engineered Crops The battle over genetic engineering is being fought across the world, between those who champion farmers' rights to seeds, livelihood and land, and those who would privatize them. Food First, together with the Pesticide Action Network, has brought together a range of views from critics of GE food.

Table of Contents and Introduction Myth #1: Genetically Engineered Crops Are Necessary to Feed the Third World

Myth #2: Northern Resistance to Genetic Engineering Creates Starvation in the South

Myth #3: Golden Rice: A Miracle Rice

Myth #4: Patents are Necessary to Ensure Innovation

Myth #5: Biotechnology Increases Agricultural Biodiversity

Myth #6: People in the Third World Want Genetically Engineered Crops

The Eucharist and Food

A long struggle by Bishop Maurice Dingman to get Pope John Paul II to come to a rural area was going nowhere until the Pope himself heard the proposal and enthusiastically said yes, he wanted to go to farm country! Pope John Paul II visited Des Moines, Iowa, and on Oct. 4, 1979, began his remarks with the words of the offertory prayers at Catholic Mass: "Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made."

Wheat is planted in the earth, harvested, and made into flour. Flour is baked into bread and brought to the altar. The earth, our work become the Eucharistic Christ. But we have to grow a better grade of wheat and bake a better loaf of bread before Christ will come and consecrate the world fully into His body. If we bring the loaves of our efforts to Jesus, Jesus can multiply the loaves.

With Fr. Pierre Teihard de Chardin, S.J., I believe that the Eucharistic Christ is not just the spiritual center but the physical center of the universe. Gravitational fields, magnetic fields, indeed all of nature is interconnected and one.

Wheat is planted, feeds on the minerals of the earth, drinks the moisture in the soil, and grows. Human hands harvest the wheat, ground it into flour, bake the bread, and bring it to the altar. The wheat contains physical creation, past and present. Human work transforms the wheat into bread. If the eucharistic bread is produced in a way that disrupts the web of nature or in ways unjust to farmers and farm workers, I feel uncomfortable offering such bread to become the body of Christ.

The priest breaks the bread, a symbol of sharing. If there is someone malnourished anywhere in the world, the Eucharist is incomplete everywhere in the world.

Jesus transforms the bread into His body. In faith and love human persons, human work, physical creation are all united in the Eucharistic Christ.

Accept the eons of earth?s slow change
The millennia of the soil?s formation
The centuries of seed selection by peasants
The years of farmer cultivation of the land
The hours of millers and bakers, truckers and clerks
Divine plans, human hands, co-workers, co-creators
This earth, this work, this bread
One with you, our Creator!
One with you, our Bread of Life!

Fr. Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J.

The Case for a GM-Free Sustainable World (Food First web-site) http://www.foodfirst.org/progs/global/ge/

1. GM crops failed to deliver promised benefits

The consistent finding from independent research and on-farm surveys since 1999 is that GM crops have failed to deliver the promised benefits of significantly increasing yields or reducing herbicide and pesticide use. GM crops have cost the United States an estimated $12 billion in farm subsidies, lost sales and product recalls due to transgenic contamination. Massive failures in Bt cotton of up to 100% were reported in India.

Biotech corporations have suffered rapid decline since 2000, and investment advisors forecast no future for the agricultural sector. Meanwhile worldwide resistance to GM has reached a climax in 2002 when Zambia refused GM maize in food aid despite the threat of famine.

2. GM crops posing escalating problems on the farm

The instability of transgenic lines has plagued the industry from the beginning, and this may be responsible for a string of major crop failures. A review in 1994 stated, ?While there are some examples of plants which show stable expression of a transgene these may prove to be the exceptions to the rule. In an informal survey of over 30 companies involved in the commercialization of transgenic crop plants?.almost all of the respondents indicated that they had observed some level of transgene inaction. Many respondents indicated that most cases of transgene inactivation never reach the literature.?

Triple herbicide-tolerant oilseed rape volunteers that have combined transgenic and non-transgenic traits are now widespread in Canada. Similar multiple herbicide-tolerant volunteers and weeds have emerged in the United States. In the United States, glyphosate-tolerant weeds are plaguing GM cotton and soya fields, and atrazine, one of the most toxic herbicides, has had to be used with glufosinate-tolerant GM maize.

Bt biopesticide traits are simultaneously threatening to create superweeds and Bt- resistant pests.

3. Extensive transgenic contamination unavoidable

Extensive transgenic contamination has occurred in maize landraces growing in remote regions in Mexico despite an official moratorium that has been in place since 1998. High levels of contamination have since been found in Canada. In a test of 33 certified seed stocks, 32 were found contaminated.

New research shows that transgenic pollen, wind-blown and deposited elsewhere, or fallen directly to the ground, is a major source of transgenic contamination. Contamination is generally acknowledged to be unavoidable, hence there can be no co-existence of transgenic and non-transgenic crops.

4. GM crops not safe

Contrary to the claims of proponents, GM crops have not been proven safe. The regulatory framework was fatally flawed from the start. It was based on an anti-precautionary approach designed to expedite product approval at the expense of safety considerations. The principle of ?substantial equivalence?, on which risk assessment is based, is intended to be vague and ill-defined, thereby giving companies complete license in claiming transgenic products ?substantially equivalent? to non-transgenic products, and hence ?safe?.

5. GM food raises serious safety concerns

There have been very few credible studies on GM food safety. Nevertheless, the available findings already give cause for concern. In the still only systematic investigation on GM food ever carried out in the world, ?growth factor-like? effects were found in the stomach and small intestine of young rats that were not fully accounted for by the transgene product, and were hence attributable to the transgenic process or the transgenic construct, and may hence be general to all GM food. There have been at least two other, more limited, studies that also raised serious safety concerns.

6. Dangerous gene products are incorporated into crops

Bt proteins, incorporated into 25% of all transgenic crops worldwide, have been found harmful to a range of non-target insects. Some of them are also potent immunogens and allergens. A team of scientists have cautioned against releasing Bt crops for human use

Food crops are increasingly used to produce pharmaceuticals and drugs, including cytokines known to suppress the immune system, induce sickness and central nervous system toxicity; interferon alpha, reported to cause dementia, neurotoxicity and mood and cognitive side effects; vaccines; and viral sequences such as the ?spike? protein gene of the pig coronavirus, in the same family as the SARS virus linked to the current epidemic. The glycoprotein gene gp120 of the AIDS virus HIV-1, incorporated into GM maize as a ?cheap, edible oral vaccine?, serves as yet another biological time-bomb, as it can interfere with the immune system and recombine with viruses and bacteria to generate new and unpredictable pathogens.

7. Terminator crops spread male sterility

Crops engineered with ?suicide? genes for male sterility have been promoted as a means of ?containing?, i.e., preventing, the spread of transgenes. In reality, the hybrid crops sold to farmers spread both male sterile suicide genes as well herbicide tolerance genes via pollen.

8. Broad-spectrum herbicides highly toxic to humans and other species

Glufosinate ammonium and glyphosate are used with the herbicide-tolerant transgenic crops that currently account for 75% of all transgenic crops worldwide. Both are systemic metabolic poisons expected to have a wide range of harmful effects, and these have been confirmed.

Glufosinate ammonium is linked to neurological, respiratory, gastrointestinal and haematological toxicities, and birth defects in humans and mammals. It is toxic to butterflies and a number of beneficial insects, also to the larvae of clams and oysters, Daphnia and some freshwater fish, especially the rainbow trout. It inhibits beneficial soil bacteria and fungi, especially those that fix nitrogen.

Glyphosate is the most frequent cause of complaints and poisoning in the UK. Disturbances of many body functions have been reported after exposures at normal use levels.

Glyphosate exposure nearly doubled the risk of late spontaneous abortion, and children born to users of glyphosate had elevated neurobehavioral defects. Glyphosate caused retarded development of the foetal skeleton in laboratory rats. Glyphosate inhibits the synthesis of steroids, and is genotoxic in mammals, fish and frogs. Field dose exposure of earthworms caused at least 50 percent mortality and significant intestinal damage among surviving worms. Roundup caused cell division dysfunction that may be linked to human cancers.

The known effects of both glufosinate and glyphosate are sufficiently serious for all further uses of the herbicides to be halted.

9. Genetic engineering creates super-viruses

By far the most insidious dangers of genetic engineering are inherent to the process itself, which greatly enhances the scope and probability of horizontal gene transfer and recombination, the main route to creating viruses and bacteria that cause disease epidemics. This was highlighted, in 2001, by the ?accidental? creation of a killer mouse virus in the course of an apparently innocent genetic engineering experiment.

Newer techniques, such as DNA shuffling are allowing geneticists to create in a matter of minutes in the laboratory millions of recombinant viruses that have never existed in billions of years of evolution. Disease-causing viruses and bacteria and their genetic material are the predominant materials and tools for genetic engineering, as much as for the intentional creation of bio-weapons.

10. Transgenic DNA in food taken up by bacteria in human gut

There is already experimental evidence that transgenic DNA from plants has been taken up by bacteria in the soil and in the gut of human volunteers. Antibiotic resistance marker genes can spread from transgenic food to pathogenic bacteria, making infections very difficult to treat.

11. Transgenic DNA and cancer

Transgenic DNA is known to survive digestion in the gut and to jump into the genome of mammalian cells, raising the possibility for triggering cancer.

The possibility cannot be excluded that feeding GM products such as maize to animals also carries risks, not just for the animals but also for human beings consuming the animal products.

12. CaMV 35S promoter increases horizontal gene transfer

Evidence suggests that transgenic constructs with the CaMV 35S promoter might be especially unstable and prone to horizontal gene transfer and recombination, with all the attendant hazards: gene mutations due to random insertion, cancer, reactivation of dormant viruses and generation of new viruses. This promoter is present in most GM crops being grown commercially today.

13. A history of misrepresentation and suppression of scientific evidence

There has been a history of misrepresentation and suppression of scientific evidence, especially on horizontal gene transfer. Key experiments failed to be performed, or were performed badly and then misrepresented. Many experiments were not followed up, including investigations on whether the CaMV 35S promoter is responsible for the ?growth-factor-like? effects observed in young rats fed GM potatoes.

In conclusion, GM crops have failed to deliver the promised benefits and are posing escalating problems on the farm. Transgenic contamination is now widely acknowledged to be unavoidable, and hence there can be no co-existence of GM and non-GM agriculture. Most important of all, GM crops have not been proven safe. On the contrary, sufficient evidence has emerged to raise serious safety concerns, that if ignored could result in irreversible damage to health and the environment. GM crops should be firmly rejected now.

Why Sustainable Agriculture?

1. Higher productivity and yields, especially in the Third World

Some 8.98 million farmers have adopted sustainable agriculture practices on 28.92 million hectares in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Reliable data from 89 projects show higher productivity and yields: 50-100% increase in yield for rainfed crops, and 5-10% for irrigated crops. Top successes include Burkina Faso, which turned a cereal deficit of 644 kg per year to an annual surplus of 153 kg; Ethiopia, where 12 500 households enjoyed 60% increase in crop yields; and Honduras and Guatemala, where 45 000 families increased yields from 400-600 kg/ha to 2 000-2 500 kg/ha.

Long-term studies in industrialized countries show yields for organic comparable to conventional agriculture, and sometimes higher.

2. Better soils

Sustainable agricultural practices tend to reduce soil erosion, as well as improve soil physical structure and water-holding capacity, which are crucial in averting crop failures during periods of drought.

Soil fertility is maintained or increased by various sustainable agriculture practices. Studies show that soil organic matter and nitrogen levels are higher in organic than in conventional fields.

Biological activity has also been found to be higher in organic soils. There are more earthworms, arthropods, mycorrhizal and other fungi, and micro-organisms, all of which are beneficial for nutrient recycling and suppression of disease.

3. Cleaner environment

There is little or no polluting chemical-input with sustainable agriculture. Moreover, research suggests that less nitrate and phosphorus are leached to groundwater from organic soils.

Better water infiltration rates are found in organic systems. Therefore, they are less prone to erosion and less likely to contribute to water pollution from surface runoff.

4. Reduced pesticides and no increase in pests

Organic farming prohibits routine pesticide application. Integrated pest management has cut the number of pesticide sprays in Vietnam from 3.4 to one per season, in Sri Lanka from 2.9 to 0.5 per season, and in Indonesia from 2.9 to 1.1 per season.

Research showed no increase in crop losses due to pest damage, despite the withdrawal of synthetic insecticides in Californian tomato production.

Pest control is achievable without pesticides, reversing crop losses, as for example, by using ?trap crops? to attract stem borer, a major pest in East Africa. Other benefits of avoiding pesticides arise from utilizing the complex inter-relationships between species in an ecosystem.

5. Supporting biodiversity and using diversity

Sustainable agriculture promotes agricultural biodiversity, which is crucial for food security and rural livelihoods. Organic farming can also support much greater biodiversity, benefiting species that have significantly declined.

Biodiverse systems are more productive than monocultures. Integrated farming systems in Cuba are 1.45 to 2.82 times more productive than monocultures. Thousands of Chinese rice farmers have doubled yields and nearly eliminated the most devastating disease simply by mixed planting of two varieties.

Soil biodiversity is enhanced by organic practices, bringing beneficial effects such as recovery and rehabilitation of degraded soils, improved soil structure and water infiltration.

6. Environmentally and economically sustainable

Research on apple production systems ranked the organic system first in environmental and economic sustainability, the integrated system second and the conventional system last. Organic apples were most profitable due to price premiums, quicker investment return and fast recovery of costs.

A Europe-wide study showed that organic farming performs better than conventional farming in the majority of environmental indicators. A review by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) concluded that well-managed organic agriculture leads to more favourable conditions at all environmental levels.

7. Ameliorating climate change by reducing direct & indirect energy use

Organic agriculture uses energy much more efficiently and greatly reduces CO2 emissions compared with conventional agriculture, both with respect to direct energy consumption in fuel and oil and indirect consumption in synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Sustainable agriculture restores soil organic matter content, increasing carbon sequestration below ground, thereby recovering an important carbon sink. Organic systems have shown significant ability to absorb and retain carbon, raising the possibility that sustainable agriculture practices can help reduce the impact of global warming.

Organic agriculture is likely to emit less nitrous dioxide (N2O), another important greenhouse gas and also a cause of stratospheric ozone depletion.

8. Efficient, profitable production

Any yield reduction in organic agriculture is more than offset by ecological and efficiency gains. Research has shown that the organic approach can be commercially viable in the long-term, producing more food per unit of energy or resources.

Data show that smaller farms produce far more per unit area than the larger farms characteristic of conventional farming. Though the yield per unit area of one crop may be lower on a small farm than on a large monoculture, the total output per unit area, often composed of more than a dozen crops and various animal products, can be far higher.

Production costs for organic farming are often lower than for conventional farming, bringing equivalent or higher net returns even without organic price premiums. When price premiums are factored in, organic systems are almost always more profitable.

9. Improved food security and benefits to local communities

A review of sustainable agriculture projects in developing countries showed that average food production per household increased by 1.71 tonnes per year (up 73%) for 4.42 million farmers on 3.58 million hectares, bringing food security and health benefits to local communities.

Increasing agricultural productivity has been shown to also increase food supplies and raise incomes, thereby reducing poverty, increasing access to food, reducing malnutrition and improving health and livelihoods.

Sustainable agricultural approaches draw extensively on traditional and indigenous knowledge, and place emphasis on the farmers? experience and innovation. This thereby utilises appropriate, low-cost and readily available local resources as well as improves farmers? status and autonomy, enhancing social and cultural relations within local communities.

Local means of sale and distribution can generate more money for the local economy. For every £1 spent at an organic box scheme from Cusgarne Organics (UK), £2.59 is generated for the local economy; but for every £1 spent at a supermarket, only £1.40 is generated for the local economy.

10. Better food quality for health

Organic food is safer, as organic farming prohibits routine pesticide and herbicide use, so harmful chemical residues are rarely found.

Organic production also bans the use of artificial food additives such as hydrogenated fats, phosphoric acid, aspartame and monosodium glutamate, which have been linked to health problems as diverse as heart disease, osteoporosis, migraines and hyperactivity.

Studies have shown that, on average, organic food has higher vitamin C, higher mineral levels and higher plant phenolics ? plant compounds that can fight cancer and heart disease, and combat age-related neurological dysfunctions ? and significantly less nitrates, a toxic compound.

Sustainable agricultural practices have proven beneficial in all aspects relevant to health and the environment. In addition, they bring food security and social and cultural well-being to local communities everywhere. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive global shift to all forms of sustainable agriculture.

Food First Books

Genetic Engineering in Agriculture: The Myths, Environmental Risks, and Alternatives

© Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy 398 60th Street, Oakland, CA 94618 USA

Tel: 510-654-4400 Fax: 510-654-4551 Email: foodfirst@foodfirst.org

. Water

In the Hebrew Scriptures, ?living water? meant water that is flowing free and pure; it is contrasted with water from wells or cisterns, which tended to be stagnant and undesirable. In the Christian Scriptures, Jesus appropriated the term living water to refer to himself as the source of genuine spiritual life. He applied this symbol to himself because he knew that people depend on water for their survival as individuals and as communities; that water slakes thirst and quenches fields and livestock as well as wild creatures. Water, used in religious ceremonies, gives life to our spirits too. It is the element used to symbolize spiritual cleansing and a sign of God?s grace conferred upon us.

Isaiah 44.3, 55.1: ?All you who are thirsty, come to the water! Your who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!? Ezekiel 47. 1-12 saw water flowing from beneath the temple and becoming a river along whose banks trees grew abundantly. He added that ?wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh,? Ezekiel?s vision is recalled later by the seer of Revelation 1,2.

Jesus was baptized by John in the flowing waters of the Jordan River (Mk. 1.9) At the temple Jesus exclaimed: ?Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture says, ?rivers of living water will flow from within him.? (Jan 7. 37-38) Water flowing from Jesus? side at his crucifixion is richly symbolic: by his death he offers eternal life to all (Jn.19.31-37.) Jesus told his followers to make disciples of all nations, ?baptizing them? with water.
(Mt. 28.18-20. The living water offered by Jesus for our spirit and the living water in God?s creation for our body are both life-giving waters?one natural, the other supernatural. (From twelve Catholic bishops of the US Pacific Northwest and southeastern British Columbia, Canada, Origins, Vol. 30, p. 613, Mar. 8, 2001.)

Pontifical Justice and Peace Council: Water, An Essential Element for Life Third World Water Forum Kyoto, March 16-23, 2003. ?Inadequate access to safe drinking water affects the well-being of over one billion persons, and more than twice that number have no adequate sanitation. This all too often is the cause of disease, unnecessary suffering, conflicts, poverty and even death. Water plays a central and critical role in all aspects of life?in the national environment, in our economies, in food security, in production, in politics. . .The human person can survive only a few days without clean, safe drinking water. . . Water must meet the needs of the present population and those of future generations of all societies. Water policy to be sustainable, must promote the good of every person and of the whole person. . . Respect for life and the dignity of the human person must be the ultimate guiding norm for all development policy. . . Powerful international interests, public and private, must adapt their agendas to serve human needs rather than dominate them.. . The earth and all that it contains are for the use of every human being and all peoples. This principle of the universal destination of the goods of creation confirms that people and countries, including future generations, have the right to fundamental access to those goods which are necessary for their development. Water is such a common good of humankind. . The few with the means to control cannot destroy or exhaust this resource, which is destined for the use of all.

Water management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policy-makers at all levels. . . Solidarity is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good, to the good of all and of each individual. It presupposes the effort for a more just social order and requires a preferential attention to the situation of the poor.. Although the water issue is global in scope, it is at the local level where decisive action can best be taken. The engagement of communities at the grass-roots level is key to the success of water programs.

Agriculture cannot be sustained without sufficient water. The dominant use of water around the world will continue to be water for food security.

Existing international water law may be unable to handle competition for limited sources of water. . Conflicts focus on shared river basins and transboundary waters.

The use of water for industry and energy are of great importance.

'Hydroelectric power is an important source of clean energy. It provides approximately 20% of total electricity production worldwide.

Water by its very nature cannot be treated as a mere commodity among other commodities. Catholic social thought has always stressed that the defense and preservation of certain common goods such as the natural and human environments cannot be safeguarded simply by market forces, since they tough on fundamental human needs which escape market logic. Centesimus Annus, 40. Water has traditionally been a state responsibility and viewed as a public good. Being at the service of its citizens, the state is the steward of the people?s resources, which it most administer with a view to the common good. . There should be an efficient and reliable water service which provides for the poor and low-income families. Recycling principles create a new philosophy of what has been regarded as waste.

A people-centered, pro-poor policy on water management must address the question of water-related hazards such as floods, droughts, desertification, tropical storms erosion and various kinds of pollution. Many so-called natural disaster are in fact man-made in their roots, because of inadequate attention to the environment and the consequences of human actions or indeed inaction. It is the poor who suffer most when they are exposed to such dangers. But everyone?s security is at risk.. . Post-disaster reconstruction is not a question of reconstructing the past, but of building for a safer and more ecologically sustainable future.

Sufficient and safe drinking water is a precondition for the realization of other human rights. There is little that cannot be achieved technically. What is needed is political will and effective governance. Rights to food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, cannot be attained or guaranteed without also guaranteeing access to clean water. Without water, life is threatened. The right to water is an inalienable right.

Funds released through cancellation of debt can be used in improving water services. Water nourishes us. Water is a source of beauty, wonder, relaxation, and refreshment. People vacation near water to renew and regenerate themselves. Water has an aesthetic value.

Water is a sign of God?s favor and goodness. Without water there is no life. We need to respect the integrity of creation and an appreciation of the significance of water in God?s plan.


Christian Life Community: Bottled Water

Private ownership of water or privatization of water is a threat to our water security. One person in six does not have access to clean drinking water. The UN predicts that by 2025, two-thirds of the world's population will not have access to sufficient drinking water. Private corporations look at water as blue gold. Delegates from thirty-five nations formulated principles concerning fresh water: "Earth's fresh water belongs to the Earth and all species, and therefore must not be treated as a private commodity to be bought, sold and traded for profit. The global fresh water supply is a shared legacy, a public trust, a fundamental human right, and therefore a collective responsibility."
Annual sales of bottled water are more than thirty-five billion dollars worldwide. Much bottled water is appropriated by giant soft drink corporations. These transnational corporations buy up farms, wilderness tracts, and whole water systems. Plastic water bottles clog landfills. In a test of 1000 bottles, one third contained contamination, including traces of arsenic and E. coli. One fourth of bottled water is taken from the tap. Bottled water is subject to much less regulation than tap water.
What are we to do? If your tap water is questionable, consider using filters even though energy and materials are still needed for filter production and distribution and used up tilter components usually end in landfills where they can release toxins collected from the water back into the environment. Filters are a temporary solution and no substitute for proper watershed conservation and management--i.e. keeping our natural water supply clean..
See www.stellamarisretreatcenter.org/waterspirit or www.waterstewards.org
Taken from Harvest summer 2004 Christian Life Community Sylvia Picard Schmidt pp. 26 ff.
http://www.originsonline.com

Cuba Transformed!

Cuba is the first nation to go from chemical-intensive farming to sustainable agriculture! "To understand Cuban
agricultural development we must first look at the richness of detail in Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba. Then we have to step back and squint to capture the truly novel pathway of development that Cuba is pioneering. And then once again we have to focus in on the details, and glimpse the processes through which Cuba is creating something truly new and hopeful for all of humanity." Professor Richard Levins, Harvard University School of Public Health

Cuba's successful switch from chemical-intensive to sustainable agriculture carried the island nation back from the brink of a national food crisis brought on by the 1990 collapse of trade relations with the former socialist bloc. This fascinating case demonstrates that organic agriculture could actually work as the basis of an entire nation's farming sector, putting the lie to the oft-repeated myth that "organic farming could never feed the world," according to a new book-length report issued by Food First/The Institute for Food and Development Policy, a food policy think tank. The multi-author report, Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba is largely written by Cuban experts on agricultural production, and represents the first time Cubans have made public the details of this enormous agricultural transformation.

To discuss Cuba's unique national experience with organic farming and this report, Food First and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) are bringing lead author Dr. Fernando Funes, a key player in the Cuban transformation, on a nationwide speaking tour. Dr. Funes will be appearing at universities and book stores throughout the United States.

For 30 years Cuba had fully embraced chemical pesticide- and fertilizer-intensive farming methods to meet its domestic food and export needs. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, Cuba, a target of a thirty-year economic embargo by the United States, lost its biggest trading partner and its ability to import food and the chemicals and machines to grow it using conventional technology.

"Suddenly $8 billion a year disappeared from Cuban trade. Imports were reduced by 75 percent, including most foodstuffs, spare parts, agrochemicals, and industrial equipment," according to Dr. Funes. "Unexpectedly a 'modern' and industrialized agricultural system had to face the challenge to increase food production while maintaining production for export, all with more than 50 percent drop in the availability of [agricultural] inputs."

Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba explores the ambitious program Cuba embarked on during the ten years subsequent to the collapse of the Soviet Union, a program which fed the country's population. By 1999 Cuba's agricultural production had recovered and in some cases reached historic levels. While rural farms and farmers contributed greatly to this success, a key component was the emergence of urban farms and gardens as the principal source of fresh produce in cities. "In the early 1990's a strong urban agriculture was born in which thousands of people produce food using organic methods that help supply basic foodstuffs to urban families," said Dr. Funes. "The effectiveness of organic techniques in urban gardening has been clearly demonstrated, and it is here that we are possibly closest to the ideal of sustainable agriculture, due in part to the prohibition of the use of chemicals because of the proximity to dense human populations."

Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba includes the contribution of thirty-two of
Cuba's leading agriculture researchers, plus three American experts on Cuban agriculture, including Dr. Peter Rosset, the
co-director of Food First. It also includes a prologue by Professor Miguel Altieri of the University of California at Berkeley, and an epilogue by Professor Richard Levins of Harvard University. For more information about the book contact Dr. Fernando Funes-who speaks English-and/or Dr. Rosset or Nick Parker at (510) 654-4400 ext. 229, or at
nparker@foodfirst.org, or visit the Food First web page at http://www.foodfirst.org/cuba/.

Food First, also known as the Institute for Food and Development Policy, founded in 1975 by Frances Moore Lappé and Joseph Collins after the success of Ms. Lappé's book Diet for a Small Planet, is a policy think tank that carries out research and education-for-action. Food First works to identify the root causes of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world, and to educate the public as well as policy makers about these problems and alternative solutions to them. Visit Food First's web site at www.foodfirst.org. rosset@foodfirst.org


http://www.foodfirst.org/cuba/

Organica, the Cuban organic farming association, which has been at the forefront of Cuba's transition from industrial to organic agriculture, was named as winner of a major international prize, the Right Livelihood Award. One of four winners, GAO was chosen from more than eighty candidates from forty nations because it is convincing Cuban farmers and policy-makers that Cuba's previous high-input farming model was too import-dependent and environmentally damaging to be sustainable, and that the organic alternative has the potential to achieve equally good yields. (See The Greening of the Revolution, Cuba's experiment with organic agriculture, edited by Peter Rosset and Medea Benjamin.)

Eating in an Ethical Way

If we believe that our present food system is not in accord with God's hope for us, then our eating habits should follow our convictions. If we believe that food should be produced locally, organically, in a sustainable way, then we need to get our food from sources that grow food in an ethical manner. (See "The Ethics of Eating" National Catholic Reporter, May 24, 2002, pp. 13 ff) "Our stomachs are full, but paradoxically we are still hungry . . for the aesthetic value of real food, the satisfaction of eating together, the assurance that what we're putting into our mouths is both life-sustaining and safe. Our fears are about the hidden costs of 'cheap' food, one of which is a widespread and continuing loss of small family farms in the US."

Related web sites are:
National Catholic Rural Life Conference: www.ncrlc.com
Organic Consumers Association: www.purefood.org
Public Citizen: www.citizen.org
Waterkeeper Alliance: www.keeper.org
Grace Factory Farm: www.factoryfarm.org
Coalition of Immokalee Workers: www.ciw-online.org
Dealing with humane treatment of farm animals: Humane farming association: www.hfa.org
www.foodcircles.missouri.edu

Date: 2003-11-12

"The use of GM cotton seed has changed my life, allowing me to improve my home and farm," she said.

Such news may not appease critics who claim that the biggest problem with GMOs is that it creates a dependence of poor farmers on American companies who produce the seeds.

Ambassador Nicholson is not swayed. "They don't have to keep using it if it's not to their advantage," he said.

See Jesuit Center in Zambia http://www.jctr.org.zm

What Would Jesus Eat Today?

Jesus taught love, compassion, and humility. Jesus does not want us to harm the earth, our health, or mistreat animals.
Isaiah 11.6-9 depicts a world where the wolf, lamb, lion, cow, bear, snake and little child live peacefully together. The Community of Friends artist Edward Hicks has a classic series of paintings of Isaiah 11.6-9. Vegetarians believe that
a proper vegetarian diet is better for our health, kinder to animals, better for the earth, and can feed more people.
See Christian Vegetarian Association http://www.christianveg.com/cva

Animals

Part of the family pledge of non-violence is to treat "all living things, including our pets, with respect and care." The Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 2416 states: "Animals are God's creatures. God surrounds animals with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless God and give him glory. Thus we owe animals kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals."

The New Dictionary of Catholic Social Thought ("Animals, Rights of") says: "Scripture places a high value on animals. . . animals are part of the universal drawing together of all things in Christ's peace-bringing redemption. The Bible has a vision of a peace in a creation where humans and even all animals are vegetarian. . .wolf and lamb, lion and ox, child and poisonous snake, will live together without harm. . .the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep."

World Council of Churches: "This is not a simple question of kindness, however laudable that virtue is. It is an issue of strict justice. In all our dealing with animals, the ethic for the liberation of life requires that we render unto animals what they are due, as creatures with an independent integrity and value. Precisely because they cannot speak for themselves, the Christian duty to speak and act for them is the greater, not the lesser." (Liberating Life. 1988)

Some feel we should be kind to animals but make human persons a priority. I think the two go together. The evidence is that if a child is violent to animals, she/he will be violent to persons. Animals, people, and the earth are part of a whole. Peace education must include love and respect for all of God's creatures. (See http://www.ape-connections.org
Animals, People, the Earth)

Animal issues include large factory farms in which chickens, pigs, calves, etc. are keep inside in small enclosed areas; animal experimentation for medical science; testing cosmetic enhancements on animals to judge the safety of the product; traping animals for furs; using animals for games. It's easy for me to see that acquiring supposed safer cosmetic products and luxury items are no excuse for cruelty to animals. I have major concerns about how meat is grown. Animal experimentation for medical reasons is perhaps the most controversial, but reputable doctors feel there are alternatives and that the transfer from the effect on animals to the effect on humans is often flawed. Because something is harmful to animals does not always mean that it will be harmful to humans and vice versa.

Christianity and Vegetarianism

Pursing the Nonviolence of Jesus, by Fr. John Dear, S.J. : Vegetarianism can help end world hunger. While people suffer and die of starvation in Central and South America, these regions ship their grain to the US to feed our cows, pigs, and chickens so that we can satisfy our desire for animal flesh, milk, and eggs." Genesis 1.29 "God said, 'See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.'" "But after the Fall people waged war, held one another as slaves, ate meat, and committed every atrocity imaginable. . . Leviticus strictly prohibits the eating of anything with fat or blood, and many argue that the law of Moses actually forbids the eatinhg of flesh entirely because it's impossible to get blood totally out of meat. .Daniel a nonviolent resister refuses to defile himself by eating the king's meat. He and three friends actually become much healthier than everyone else through their vegetarian diet. They also become ten times smarter, and "God rewards them with knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom."

The prophet Isaiah proclaims the vision of the peaceable kingdom, that new realm of God where everyone will beat their swords into plowshares, refuse to study war, enjoy their own vine and fig tree, and never fear again. Several passages condemn meat-eating and foresee a day when people and animals will adopt a vegetarian diet, when "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. . They do no violence, no harm, on all my holy mountain." Isaiah 11.6-9.

In the US twenty times as much energy is required to produce a calorie of animal flesh as the amount needed to produce a calorie of vegetable food. We wastefully cycle 70% of all we grow, such as soy, corn, wheat, and other grains, through animals, rather than eating these foods directly. More than half of all the water used in the US is used to raise animals for food. The intensive production of animals for meat requires twenty-five times as much land as the production of the same amount of food from vegetable sources. The nine billion land animals that we raise for food in the US excrete 130 times as much waste as the enire human population of the US--130 times! Animal waste is swimming with bacteria, hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. It's toxic waste, and is the number one source of water pollution.

The American Dietetic Association and the American Medical Association have concluded that vegetarians are actually healthier. Vegetarians tend to weigh less and suffer at a fraction of the rate of meat-eaters from heart disease, cancer, and stroke--America's three biggest killers. Meat is entirely devoid of carbohydrates and fiber but has heavy doses of artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol. On the Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn programs, patients became "heart attack proof" to quote Dr. Esselstyn, by getting their cholesterol levels lower than 150, the level below which no one has ever been documented as to have had a heart attack. The average vegan cholesterol level is 128. Meat contains pesticides and other chemicals up to fourteen times more concentrated than those in plant foods.

Vegetarianism supports human rights as well as animal rights. Domestically, slaughterhouses are dens of death not just for animals, but for the people who work in them. Slaughterhouses have the highest rate of injury, the highest turnover rate, the highest repeat-injury rate, and the highest rate of accidental death of any industry in the country. Slaughterhouse workers have nine times the injury rate of coal miners. Slaughter houses are continually searching for relacement workers and have to bus people from Mexico and Central America to slaughterhouses in Iowa, Minnesota, and elsewhere.

The raising, transporting, and slaughtering of food animals entails enormous mistreatment and suffering of literally billions of creatures each year, in addition to the massive damage to the environment. Raising livestock is more destructive in depleting topsoil, groundwater, and energy resources than all other human activities combined, as well as causing enormous enivironmental damage such as clearing of forest, destruction of wildlife habitat, and pollution of rivers and lakes. see http://www.ChristianVeg.com http://JesusVeg.com GoVeg.com http://www.veganoutreach.org

The Liturgy and Food

When Pope Paul II visited Des Moines, Iowa, Oct. 4, 1979, he began his remarks with the words of the offertory prayers at Catholic Mass: "Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made." Wheat is planted in the earth, harvested, and made into flour. Flour is baked into bread and brought to the altar. The earth, our work become the Eucharistic Christ. But we have to grow a better grade of wheat and bake a better loaf of bread before Christ will come and consecrate the world fully into His body. If we bring the loaves of our efforts to Jesus, Jesus can multiply the loaves.

With Fr. Pierre Teihard de Chardin, S.J., I believe that the Eucharistic Christ is not just the spiritual center but the physical center of the universe. Gravitational fields, magnetic fields, indeed all of nature is interconnected and one.

Wheat is planted, feeds on the minerals of the earth, drinks the moisture in the soil, and grows. Human hands harvest the wheat, ground it into flour, bake the bread, and bring it to the altar. The wheat contains physical creation, past and present. Human work transforms the wheat into bread. If the eucharistic bread is produced in a way that disrupts the web of nature or in ways unjust to farmers and farm workers, I feel uncomfortable offering such bread to become the body of Christ.

The priest breaks the bread, a symbol of sharing. If there is someone malnourished anywhere in the world, the eucharist is incomplete everywhere in the world.

Jesus transforms the bread into His body. In faith and love human persons, human work, physical creation are all united in the Eucharistic Christ.

Accept the eons of earth?s slow change
The millennia of the soil?s formation
The centuries of seed selection by peasants
The years of farmer cultivation of the land
The hours of millers and bakers, truckers and clerks
Divine plans, human hands, co-workers, co-creators
This earth, this work, this bread
One with you, our Creator!
One with you, our Bread of Life!

11/19/09