This week, I had the opportunity to attend a forum on the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) that focused mainly on the environmental and food safety implications of the treaty. Although this was not a faith-based forum, discussions about the corporatization of food production led me to reflect on eating as a moral act, something that connects us deeply with Creation.
What really struck me was the conversation about the implications of TAFTA on food standards. Europe currently has some of the strongest restrictions on GMOs in the world. Some large corporations that perpetuate the use of GMOs are pushing Europe to overturn local and national bans on these products through this trade agreement.
As Columban Father Sean McDonagh demonstrates in his book Patenting Life? Stop!, “Some of the risks [of genetically engineered foods] to human health and the environment include the potential to cause allergies; an increase in antibiotic resistance and toxicity; misleading the consumer into thinking the produce is fresh, and, finally, unpredictable gene expression in the engineered organism” (McDonagh 90). These factors lead me to wonder: Is this the way of food production that God intended? Have we become so disconnected from what we eat, that we don’t even question how our food got from farm to fork? Food isn’t something that should be equated with profit and benefits for large corporations. The wealth of a few individuals due to the mass production of food is ignoring basic needs for both consumers and producers.
When we pray over our food at meals, asking God to “Bless us O Lord for these thy gifts we are about to receive from thy bounty,” this should not just mean the food that we have prepared for that day, but the means by which it has gotten to our table.