August 14, 2014

Letter Sent to Pope Francis Regarding GMOs

His Holiness
Pope Francis

Apostolic Palace

00120 Vatican City

April 30, 2014

Your Holiness:

With the utmost respect, we address Your Holiness regarding a topic of grave concern and global scope—genetically modified (GM) crops and their impact on peoples and on nature, land, water, seeds, and economies, especially those of the Global South.

The signatories of this letter are scientists and experts who have researched the issue for decades, devoting a considerable part of our professional lives to it. We are therefore knowledgeable on the topic in its various aspects—biologists, agronomists, geneticists, physicists, and professionals in other fields. Some of us helped raise the first worldwide public debate on these crops and their implications. With our scientific knowledge, we also endeavor to support a number of peasant movements in our countries and around the world, such as La Vía Campesina.

The issue of genetically modified crops is not only a scientific and technical debate; it also has significant economic and political implications. However, many scientists who defend GM crops conceal most of their problems and scientific uncertainties. There is seldom discussion of how large agribusiness corporations are using GM crops to move toward expanding their already-significant control over world food production.

Official statistics from the countries where most GM crops are planted demonstrate that, on average, they produce less per hectare, use more agrochemicals, and have resulted in a significant increase in unemployment in the countryside, resulting in an exodus from rural areas.

Genetically modified crops are a fundamental tool for large transnational corporations, whose explicit aim is profit and not social interest, to make decisions about a country’s food supplies. The use of GM crops greatly affects food sovereignty and hinders the development of diversified agricultural systems capable of benefiting most of the population, especially the poorest; they also have negative effects on public health and the environment.

The imminent threat of commercial release of GM crops in their centers of origin, such as corn in Mesoamerica and rice in Asia, is particularly worrisome. These releases will be irreversible and will have complex impacts. The pressure to break, in the following months, the UN moratorium on “Terminator” GM technology to make suicide seeds is also a major concern.

GM-free forms of agriculture based on peasants and small-scale farmers, diversity, and socially and environmentally responsible science are essential to address hunger and climate change, but they are at risk due to GM contamination and the advancement of corporate monopolies.

Because of this, and with the greatest respect, we believe that it would be of momentous importance and great value to all if Your Holiness were to express yourself critically on GM crops and in support of peasant farming. This support would go a long way toward saving peoples and the planet from the threat posed by the control of life wielded by companies that monopolize seeds, which are the key to the entire food web.

We are attaching a document that sums up some of the main points of the reality of genetically modified crops. A large amount of corroborating documents and scientific evidence are also available, and many more researchers and experts have contributed data along the same lines. We are at your disposal to provide any further information you may require.

Thank you for your attention.

Kind regards,


Ana María Primavesi

Andrés E. Carrasco

Elena Álvarez-Buylla

Pat Mooney

Paulo Kageyama

Rubens Nodari

Vandana Shiva

Vanderley Pignati



Brief CVs of the signatories in the PDF file.

Document “Why Genetically Modified Crops Pose a Threat to Peasants, Food Sovereignty, Health, and Biodiversity on the Planet



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