Groups cite significance of Laudato Si to Philippine food and agriculture

Press release - August 19, 2015
Manila— For the first time since Pope Francis issued his game-changing encyclical Laudato Si, church groups, environmentalists, farmers and indigenous peoples’ organizations discussed and analyzed the papal encyclical’s significance specifically on the country’s food and agriculture.

The groups view Laudato Si as the Pope’s commentary on the real and unfortunate state of the natural environment – our common home. They agree with the Pope’s call to re-examine  our  human relationship with one another, our drive for over-consumption and our relationship with the environment. They emphasize the need for a new, radical way of thinking and behaving. Going forward, the groups recommend for new ways of responsibly caring for nature to ensure our own survival, starting with a more eoclogical food and agriculture system.  

“Technology has played a key role in reinforcing wealth concentration and societal inequity, as shown by the growing control of a few corporations over global food and agriculture.  The Pope is opposed to technologies that are profit-driven and industry-directed that may have direct or collateral damage for Mother Earth and her citizens”, commented Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director of Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC) Group.

The ETC Group is an international civil society organization that monitors new technologies. The group hails the encyclical for its stinging critique of inequality, greed, corporate control and profit-driven technologies that destroy the environment and threaten the seeds and practices of peasants such as sterile seeds or “Terminator technology”. Ribiero, who hails from Uruguay, was part of a group of Latin American social movements that provided inputs to the Pope in the months leading to the drafting of Laudato Si.

“There really is urgent need for all of us to change our ways and put our “home” in order because of the environmental degradation everywhere- from air and water pollution due to increasing use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, to loss of biodiveristy, to an out-of-control climate,” said Virginia Benosa-Llorin, Food and Ecological Agriculture Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Our agriculture, which is vital to a healthy nation, has now been impacted by floods and droughts caused by human-induced climate change, in part driven by our unsustainable throw-away consumption patterns,”

The Philippines—once rice-sufficient, now a rice-importing nation—has wasted more than 12% of imported rice back in 2008. This means the average Filipino has wasted at least 2 tablespoons of cooked rice every day which could have been enough to feed 2.5 million Filipinos a year [1]. 

Religious groups hope that the public take inspiration from Laudato Si, while relevant government institutions and especially business stakeholders take on the Pope’s challenge to change their views and practices- from mere dominion over earth’s resources to being responsible stewards of these precious resources,with our fellowmen.

“The Pope is calling on the broad movement of individuals, communities and institutions to seriously recognize their unique roles as defenders of Creation,” said Fr. John Leydon of the Columban Mission in Malate Catholic Church. “For those of us in the clergy, Laudato Si signals the Church’s involvement in this movement like it was after Populorum Progressio [2] in the late 60s. Everyone should all come together to protect the environment to serve the needs of the poor and address the immoral inequality that is the worst ill of today’s society, as the Pope said in his encyclical.“ 

NOTES TO THE EDITOR:

[1] http://www.philrice.gov.ph/campaign/be-riceponsible/

[2] http://w2.vatican.va/content/paulvi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_pvi_enc_26031967_populorum.html

For more information:

Elenita Daño
Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC Group)
Email: Mobile: 0917 532 9369

Virginia Benosa-Llorin
Greenpeace Food and Ecological Agriculture Campaigner
Email:   Mobile: 0917-8228793

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