Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Pope Francis Slams GMOs and Pesticides for Destroying the Earth's 'Complex Web of Ecosystems'

Food
Pope Francis Slams GMOs and Pesticides for Destroying the Earth's 'Complex Web of Ecosystems'

Pope Francis’s encyclical didn’t just cover climate change, he also denounced pesticides and genetically engineered (GE) crops, declaring “the spread of these crops destroys the complex web of ecosystems, decreases diversity in production and affects the present and the future of regional economies.”

Biotech companies claim their products are key to solving hunger, but the Pope knows this isn’t true. No commercial GE crops are engineered for increased yield. Five of every six acres of GE crops are engineered for herbicide-tolerance, i.e. to survive being drenched with what would normally be a toxic dose of herbicide, usually Round-up, or glyphosate.

The Pope’s message couldn’t come at a better time. Pesticide use is at an all-time high. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says glyphosate use on corn and soy increased from 10 million pounds in 1996, the year Roundup Ready crops were introduced, to 204 million in 2013. The U.S. Geological Survey routinely finds glyphosate in our water. The Word Health Organization just declared glyphosate a probable carcinogen.

The Pope observed that pesticide use “creates a vicious circle in which the intervention of the human being to solve a problem often worsens the situation further.” He said, “many birds and insects die out as a result of toxic pesticides created by technology ... [and this] actually causes the Earth we live in to become less rich and beautiful, more and more limited and gray …”

Pesticides have already made our Earth less rich and more gray by nearly wiping out monarch butterflies, which have declined by 90 percent, largely because increased glyphosate use has wiped out the monarch’s sole host plant, milkweed. Pesticides are a leading cause of our current pollinator collapse. With one-third of the bites we eat requiring bee-pollination, many world leaders, including President Obama, are waking up to the need for action.

Like Pope Francis, I believe protecting the Earth is our moral imperative. With this encyclical, the Pope reminds us that our fates are intertwined with all species, and calls us to action.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

U.S. Honeybee Population Plummets by More Than 40%, USDA Finds

How Garden Centers Are Getting Toxic, Bee-Killing Pesticides Out of Their Plants and Off of Their Shelves

3 Problems With Obama’s Plan to Save the Bees

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Atlantic puffins courting at Maine Coastal Island National Wildlife Refuge in 2009. USFWS / Flickr

When Europeans first arrived in North America, Atlantic puffins were common on islands in the Gulf of Maine. But hunters killed many of the birds for food or for feathers to adorn ladies' hats. By the 1800s, the population in Maine had plummeted.

Read More Show Less
Rescue workers dig through the rubble following a gas explosion in Baltimore, Maryland on Aug. 10, 2020. J. Countess / Getty Images

A "major" natural gas explosion killed two people and seriously injured at least seven in Baltimore, Maryland Monday morning.

Read More Show Less
The recalled list includes red, yellow, white and sweet yellow onions, which may be tainted with salmonella. Pxhere

Nearly 900 people across the U.S. and Canada have been sickened by salmonella linked to onions distributed by Thomson International, the The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Methane flares at a fracking site near a home in Colorado on Oct. 25, 2014. WildEarth Guardians / Flickr

In the coming days, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to use its power to roll back yet another Obama-era environmental protection meant to curb air pollution and slow the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
Researchers on the ICESCAPE mission, funded by NASA, examine melt ponds and their surrounding ice in 2011 to see how changing conditions in the Arctic affect the biological and chemical makeup of the ocean. NASA / Flickr

By Alex Kirby

The temperature of the Arctic matters to the entire world: it helps to keep the global climate fairly cool. Scientists now say that by 2035 there could be an end to Arctic sea ice.

Read More Show Less
President Vladimir Putin is seen enjoying the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Russia's Health Ministry has given regulatory approval for the world's first COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A John Deere agricultural tractor sits under a collapsed building following a derecho storm on Aug. 10, 2020 near Franklin Grove, Illinois. Daniel Acker / Getty Images

A powerful series of thunderstorms roared across the Midwest on Monday, downing trees, damaging structures and knocking out power to more than a million people.

Read More Show Less