Why Christian Faith Leaders are urging the labeling of genetically modified food(GMO)
The World Council Of Churches, The United Methodist Church, The Presbyterian Church USA, and a study committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Church have all called for genetically engineered organisms to be labeled. In addition, some bodies, such as the California Council of Churches and National Office Of Presbyterian Church have specifically endorsed Prop 37.
Various religious leaders and experts also acknowledge that in spite of the biotech industry claims to the contrary, GMOs are not needed to feed the world, do not increase average yields, do not reduce the use of agricultural chemicals, and have not been adequately tested or proven safe. These tenants served as the basis of the biotech industry’s promises to the Christian Community regarding the value of GMOs and have been proven, point-by-point, to fail on all accounts.
Furthermore, while those opposing Prop 37 insist the proposition will increase costs to consumers and result in excessive lawsuits or hurt farmer incomes, again all claims are invalid. It is believed that at best, refusal to label is, as the World Council of Churches describes, “a special kind of lying.”
Please consider these crucial statements regarding GMOs and food labeling issued by representatives throughout the Christian community and central to Christian concerns:
It is our God given right to know what is in our food.
The World Council of Churches believes “it is immoral that consumers be left in the dark about what is in their food” And the United Methodist General Conference urges, “that genetically modified crops and genetically engineered or cloned animal products be labeled so that consumers have a choice in which kind of agricultural products they buy.”
Jaydee Hanson, Secretary Of United Methodist Caretakers Of God’s Creation and prior member of The World Council Of Churches Genetics Committee, is passionate about labeling GMO food and emphasizes, “The number one theological driver in Genesis 2 is that we’re called to keep and tend God’s creation. That doesn’t mean advocating pesticide-promoting plants that are genetically engineered.”
Reverend Dr. Dudley D. Chatman, Pastor at the Greater Community Missionary Baptist Church, adds, “I would vote for putting GMO labels on the can, bottle, whatever you’re eating or drinking. We send food all over the whole word and people don’t know it’s modified. I don’t think that’s fair, me giving you food that you don’t know what’s in it.”
It is important to the stewardship of our land that we treat it with respect and reverence.
The World Council of Churches is committed to building “partnerships with civil society, peoples’ movements, farmers and indigenous peoples to oppose genetic engineering in agriculture.” The Council is concerned about “the risks of genetic technology that can hardly be calculated when breeding animals and plants.” The Council continues, “The negative ecological and social impact on agriculture make the use of this technology doubtful.” The Council recognizes that, “Access to food stands on the interface between ecology and economy.”
The Episcopal Church strongly advises, “that the farming and processing practices used are healthy and sustainable for all of creation”. Further more, The Episcopal Church is “committed to making this a reality.” The United Methodist Church cautions, “The negative impacts on food and the environment must be strenuously avoided.”
Reverend Peter Rood of the Episcopal Church asserts, “We talk about not stealing but anytime we don’t practice sustainability we are stealing from our children, from our children’s children and from the earth. There is a benefit that comes from caring for the earth and a learning that comes from gardening, you learn of the vitality of the seed and you must stand up for the democracy that people who grow their own food enjoy.”
We must protect our health; this is our God-given right and moral responsibility
The World Church Council advises, “Christians involved in medical research to investigate the human health impacts of genetically engineered food.”
Reverend Lyndon Harris, founder of the Episcopal Church, Gardens of Forgiveness, agrees, “We have a right to know what we’re buying and if the science, as it indicates, is true there are serious health risks for consuming GMOs.”
Reverend Lyndon and the World Church Council are not alone. The Global Anglican Communion has come out against genetically modified organisms (GMO). In fact, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowen Williams, who is the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion of which the Episcopal Church is a part, has issued his own concerns and statements about the dangers of GMOs. Further defining their position on genetically modified organisms, the Church of England property in the UK considers it illegal to plant GMOs.
Genetically modified organisms in our food violate God’s law.
While The World Council of Churches approves of modern methods of breeding, they stress those methods must “respect the existence of the natural borders of species.” The Council feels so strongly about GMO technology and food that it “challenges Christians in the genetic engineering industry to reflect on their work in light of the Gospel and to consider becoming whistle blowers and conscientious objectors.” The Council also asks all to “envision the Lord’s Supper as a sacrament of resistance against those who would control food.”
The United Methodist Church states, “The responsibility of humankind to God’s creation challenges us to examine the possibilities of genetic research and technology in a conscientious, careful and responsible way.”
Greg Ciola writes in NewsWithViews, “The author of all life is God and according to the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, He created every species to reproduce after its own kind. Thus, there is no room in God’s creation for man to step in and start modifying DNA by cross transplanting the genes from one organism or species into the DNA of another. In essence, man is now creating species variants that God never intended to exist. Such alteration of species specificity is a serious violation of God’s natural order” He quotes, “And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 1:11-12)
This scripture supports Reverend Dr. Dudley D. Chatman, Pastor, Greater Community Missionary Baptist Church, when he states, “I like the way God made the stuff in the first place. It’s just right.”
Want to know more about the health and environmental risks of GMOs?
To learn more about GMOs please watch the seminal documentary, Genetic Roulette, directed by internationally recognized authority on GMOs, Jeffrey Smith. With on-camera testimonials from scientists, doctors and pediatricians discussing gmo consumption, this film is free for only a short time and promises to be a transformative experience.
You can view a 10-minute teaser here:
Genetic Roulette 10min Remix
You can view the entire film here:
“After I watched this [Genetic Roulette, The Movie], I opened my refrigerator and said to myself, what have I been eating?”—Reverend Daniel Buford, Allen-Temple, Oakland, CA
Institute Responsible Technology (IRT) is offering free screenings at your venue upon request. IRT can also assist in getting a credited speaker on the topic of GMOs to talk to your congregations and in your communities. Let’s keep the discussion going!
To learn more about Institute Responsible Technology (IRT) please visit: www.responsibletechnology.org
Sources related to the “Christian Faith Leaders, GMOs, and Prop 37/Food Labeling”:
- Transforming Life: Genetics, Agriculture and Human Life here:
- Proposition 37: In some circles, GMO stands for ‘God Moves Over':