In Thursday's News and Views from the Nefarium, I reported on some interesting developments in Russia regarding agricultural imports. You'll recall, Russia is banning most agricultural imports from the USA, Canada, Australia, and the EU, and expanding its imports from countries like China, Turkey, South Africa, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. Notably absent from that list was India, and we'll see why tomorrow. Now, this was interesting, because as many regular readers here know, for a couple of years or so now, I've been arguing that eventually we would see the BRICSA nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), making GMOs a geopolitical issue. In Thursday's News and Views, I was essentially arguing that the Western sanctions against Russia were being used by President Putin as a "crisis of opportunity" to perhaps put into place the first planks of that structure.
In order to make GMOs a geopolitical issue, and to position themselves as suppliers of natural or organic agricultural products could occur, however, I argued in the News and Views that certain steps had to occur first: (1) a market or agricultural trade - imports and exports - had to be built up among the BRICSA bloc nations and nations trading with it (such as Chile, Turkey, Argentina, and so on); (2) once this was done, then the call would inevitably occur that some sort of agreed-upon standards for agricultural products would have to be negotiated among those nations, e.g., are GMOs allowed or not, how many pesticides, can farmers retain the right to grow crops of their choice - i.e., specifically non-GMO crops - and do they retain the right to warehouse heirloom seeds and use them for traditional agronomical breeding and planting in the future, and so on.
This last question assumes some importance, because as regular readers here will also recall, both Russia and China - the two most powerful BRICS nations - have already either imposed partial bans on GMO products and imports (in China's case), and Russia is considering a complete ban on their planting in Russia. Thus, the stage has been carefully set and managed for precisely the step that I have been suggesting will ultimately emerge as agricultural policy among the BRICSA bloc: the use of anti-GMO opposition as a geopolitical tool, and a direct challenge to western "agribusiness".
Well, we're not there yet, of course, but it is interesting in the above context that the Vatican has been targeted by western agribusiness to make some sort of pronouncement in favor of GMOs, which thus far, neither the Papacy itself nor any of its bureaucracies have seen fit to do:
There's a significant statement in this article I want to draw your attention to:
"Andrews said the U.S. has "repeatedly" pushed the Holy See to endorse GMO seeds "as a moral obligation," but that the "policy of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has been to resist officially adopting GMOs." (Emphasis added)
Now, as the article makes clear, the Vatican in under pressure both from pro- and anti-GMO groups, but in the case of the pro pressure, it is coming from the US government, and this, I suggest, speaks volumes, for it means first that it is official US foreign policy, and this in turn means that the US government is but a shill for large agricultural business interests (no surprise there).
But it also speaks to something much more hidden, and that is the silly idea that the Papacy is a reliable guide on the scientific and moral consequences of something like GMOs. The track record on scientific pronouncements isn't exactly great (think Cardinal Bellarmine and Galileo here folks, or for that matter, Giordano Bruno and heliocentrism, Copernicus, etc etc). It is clear what is really being sought here: the moral sanction for a product whose productivity and environmental and human health safety are increasingly under question from genuine independent scientific scrutiny (a scrutiny, you'll recall, that ultimately lay behind Russia's considerations of a total ban on GMO products). In short, what they are after is a wave of the papal magic wand, and to cloak their products and policies with the aura of religion, and of an institution claiming an infallibility ex cathedra in matters of faith, morals, and doctrine.
And there's the rub: GMOs are not about any part of Roman Catholic faith or doctrine. They're looking for that moral sanction. Francis is not about to give them an ex cathedra statement, and so far, he is wise to avoid making any statement that could be interpreted as unequivocally favorable to GMOs.
In short, what we have, I suggest, is a measure of desperation being exhibited. Perhaps the bought-and-paid for agribusiness shills of the US government have read the signals from the BRICSA nations, and come to similar conclusions as I have been suggesting.
See you on the flip side...