2016-10-17 |

Pope Francis Message to FAO: Principle of caution is not enough


To Professor José Graziano da Silva
Director General of the FAO

Illustrious Sir,

1. The fact that the FAO has chosen to devote today’s World Food Day to the theme “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too”, leads us to consider the struggle against hunger as an even more difficult objective to attain in the presence of a complex phenomenon such as climate change. With regard to facing the challenges that nature poses to man, and that man poses to nature (cf. Enc. Laudato si’, 25), I would like to submit some reflections to the consideration of the FAO, its Member States and those who participate in its activity.

What is the cause of the current climate change? We must question our individual and collective responsibilities, without resorting to the facile sophistry that hides behind statistical data or conflicting predictions. This does not mean abandoning the scientific data we need more than ever, but rather going beyond merely interpreting the phenomenon or recording its many effects.


From the wisdom of rural communities we can learn a style of life that can help defend us from the logic of consumerism and production at any cost, a logic that, cloaked in good justifications, such as the increasing population, is in reality aimed solely at the increase of profit. In the sector in which the FAO works, there is a growing number of people who believe they are omnipotent, or able to ignore the cycles of the seasons and to improperly modify the various animal and plant species, leading to the loss of variety that, if it exists in nature, has and must have its role. Producing qualities that may give excellent results in the laboratory may be advantageous for some, but have ruinous effects for others. And the principle of caution is not enough, as very often it is limited to not allowing something to be done, whereas there is a need to act in a balanced and honest way. Genetic selection of a quality of plant may produce impressive results in terms of yield, but have we considered the terrain that loses its productive capacity, farmers who no longer have pasture for their livestock, and water resources that become unusable? And above all, do we ask if and to what extent we contribute to altering the climate?

Not precaution, then, but wisdom: what peasants, fisherman and farmers conserve in memory handed down through the generations and which is now derided and forgotten by a model of production that is entirely to the advantage of a limited group and a tiny portion of the world population. Let us remember that it is a model which, despite all its science, allows around eight hundred million people to continue to go hungry.

2016-10-13 |

Non-GMO: World Egg Day - The value in eggs – regional feeding with Donau Soja

Since November 2013, consumers can buy Donau Soja labelled eggs in Austrian supermarkets. Since then, the demand is continuously rising: today laying hens in Austria, Germany and Serbia are fed with Donau Soja. Donau Soja members thus advocate sustainable agriculture. Together with them, we
are celebrating the 21st World Egg Day!

Donau Soja, a program for sustainable, non-GM and regional cultivation of soya, finds greater application: More and more poultry farmers all over Europe choose European, certified soya. They are thus an important part of a sustainable and regional

2016-10-07 |

Risky GM maize back on EU's table

Two untested varieties of genetically modified (GM) maize could find their way on to European fields with potentially negative impacts on nature, according to Friends of the Earth Europe.

The European Commission will soon initiate a vote on whether Syngenta's Bt11 and Pioneer's 1507 maize should be grown in the European Union, despite incomplete safety tests. If approved, these would be the first new GM crops legally authorised for cultivation in the EU in almost 20 years, at a time when biotech companies are merging to consolidate their control on the food chain.

The European Parliament vote today on their position on the GM maize proposals.

Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "European farming needs urgent support to make it greener, safer and better for farmers. We need to break away from even more corporate control in order to increase our sovereignty so that we can feed future generations sustainably. GM crops have no place in our food and farming and there is no reason to open the door for more to be grown."

2016-10-07 |

German federal government, states to decide jointly on GMO crops-draft law

Germany's federal and state governments will in future decide together whether to ban the cultivation of crops with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that are allowed in the European Union, a draft law showed, ending a long dispute.

An EU law in March 2015 cleared the way for the approval of new GMO crops after years of deadlock. But it also gave individual countries the right to ban GMO crops even after they have been approved as safe by the European Commission.

In Sept. 2015, Germany told the EU it would not permit the cultivation of GMO crops but there has been disagreement whether this ban should be undertaken by federal or state authorities.

2016-10-07 |

Maize farming in Africa is vulnerable to uncontrolled spread of genetically modified varieties

A new publication from GenØk shows that maize farming by smallholders, for local food production, is particularly vulnerable to the introduction of genetically modified (GM) maize. The reason is that the fields are situated very close to each other (distance often 2-5 m) and that pollen will cross-hybridize at a high rate. In addition, farmers recycle their seeds year after year and share seeds with neighbors and family. Seed sharing may transfer viable seeds up to 100 km.

The study performed fieldwork in Zambia, uses mathematical modelling of pollen spread and interviewed farmers about their seed management practices. Globally, 85 % of all farms are small-scale (< 2ha).

The study concludes that segregation of GM and non-GM maize varieties is likely not an option in these systems. If GM maize is introduced, farmers will contribute to uncontrolled spread of GM maize. One further negative effect is that cross-hybridization of GM (Bt-maize) and non-GM maize may give increased risk of resistance development in pest insects

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