Holy See Notes Other Costs of Food Crisis

Says Agriculture Policies Need to Rediscover Reason, Reality

NEW YORK, MAY 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The global food crisis should not be measured just in terms of market costs, but also in terms of the mental and spiritual costs faced by those who cannot provide for themselves and their family, affirmed the Holy See.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said this Friday when he addressed the Economic and Social Council’s 16th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

“This [global food] crisis reveals the delicate and interlinking nature of agriculture, rural development, land reform, drought and desertification, and presents a daunting yet important and urgent task to policy makers and civil society,” the prelate said. “Indeed, this food crisis should not be measured merely by the rise in costs throughout the international food markets, but also by the physical, mental and spiritual cost of those who are unable to provide for themselves and their families.”

“Investing in long-term and sustainable agriculture programs at the local and international levels remains central to the development prospects of so many,” Archbishop Migliore affirmed. “This investment must be done in a way that addresses the prices of food commodities as well as the distribution and production of food around the world, in particular in Africa.

“Programs that allow farmers to produce food commodities at the local levels should continue to be supported and greater efforts must be made to mitigate the negative aspects of changing environmental and financial realities.”

Archbishop Migliore proposed that agriculture policies “need to rediscover the path of reason and reality in order to balance the need for food production with the need to be good stewards of the earth.”

“Care must be taken in order to meet the fundamental needs of persons and to avoid reducing the dialogue to self-interested and ideologically driven economic and environmental extremes,” he affirmed.

“While the current food crisis presents an immediate threat to development, society must continue to address persisting and imminent challenges such as climate change, harmful agricultural subsidies, fair trade, environmental degradation and land reform,” the archbishop added. “Through greater international solidarity and increased concern for the most vulnerable within our societies, we can address the immediate challenges while still working to ensure that the progress of today becomes the cornerstone for a more just and secure tomorrow.”

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