(This blog is part of a larger blog project entitled: Greg Peterson – Advocate for Truth: GMOs. Please read the entire blog project in order before passing judgement on anything you read here. All comments should be directed to the main page of the larger blog project.)
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth……God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” – Genesis 1:1,11-12
One of the biggest arguments that Christians (and many other people) use against genetically modified organisms is that modifying the genetics of plants is “playing God,” and that changing something God created isn’t right, because it is saying we don’t believe that God’s creation is “good enough.” I do believe this argument would have been true in the beginning of time. As mentioned in the verse above, God saw that what He had created was good, and was by no means in need of modification. It was perfect! Adam and Eve (The first 2 humans) lived in a perfect world, the Garden of Eden. There was no sickness, disease, or lack of comfort. Food was readily available to them and they did not have to toil to feed themselves.
The Fall of Mankind: Fighting against imperfection
But then something happened. God gave the first created humans a choice, and they chose wrong, otherwise known as the Fall of Mankind. Their punishment was as follows:
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:17-19
Ever since the Fall of Man, the world and everything in it has been riddled with imperfections. It is no longer perfect, and neither are humans. Look around. Both humans and animals encounter all sorts of sickness and injury throughout their lives and can only live so long before they must face death. Sin has run rampant throughout the world ever since that fateful day in the Garden. Our bodies, our minds, our thoughts, our actions, our very souls have all fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We live in an imperfect, broken world. Full of imperfect people, imperfect animals and yes, you guessed it, imperfect plants. Someday a Savior is coming to make all things new. To restore the perfection that once was. This is what we place our hope in! But until that day, we must face the imperfection that plagues this world.
How Does Imperfection Affect Farmers?
Farmers are called to be the best stewards of the land, animals, and plants that we can be. However, the dilemma of imperfection plays a very significant role in the task that farmers have been assigned with: Feeding the World.
You see, imperfect plants are susceptible to drought, floods, disease, insects, weeds, wind, hail, too much sun, too little sun, etc. Farmers have been dealing with these enemies of food production ever since Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden. But, (as mentioned in the main GMO blog) farmers have gradually developed methods of fighting against these things over time. Evidence shows that farmers have been using different techniques (like selective breeding) to genetically alter seeds and crops for thousands of years to make them better yielding and more resistant to things like drought, disease, and insects. We’ve developed irrigation systems to provide water, cultivators to remove weeds, and drainage methods to fight against floods. However, even as late as the mid 1900’s, farmers were barely producing enough food for everyone. And this was when the majority of the population were farmers. Today, farmers make up only 2 percent of the population. 2 percent. How in the world are we still producing enough food with so few people farming?
The technological revolution in farming has transformed agriculture, and consequently the world. Today, one farmer feeds about 160 people! (Compared to 25 in 1960 and even less prior to 1900) Farmers have reached this transformation by using many different technologies to improve food production. (Link: Technologies Used in Agriculture)
GM crops are the newest agricultural technology that can fight against the imperfections of food production. GM crops are engineered to be increasingly drought-resistant, insect-resistant, and disease-resistant. This kind of resistance leads to increased yields and better food products. In order to feed a growing population, we must embrace this kind of technology.
You see, in Biblical times, as well as later in history, there are mentions of widespread drought and famine that killed off whole communities of people. While we have come a long way since that time and rarely encounter such a catastrophe, there are still millions of people and communities here and in the rest of the world that encounter hunger, sickness, and poverty. The crops that farmers grow not only provide food for hunger; they also provide medicine for sickness and money for communities in poverty. The technology, such as GMO crops, is being developed to reach these types of communities, and could result in millions of lives being saved. Which brings us to the main question……
Should Christians support GMOs?
So, should Christians support GMOs? In my opinion, yes. We’ve already talked about how The Fall threw a wrench into God’s original perfection of creation. Therefore, it is not “playing God” to create and use GMOs. It is being a good steward. Christians are called to use their talents and skills to improve what God has given them. Just like in the Parable of the Talents, if farmers are not looking to utilize the gifts and ideas that God has given them, they are not living out their calling.
And it’s not just farmers. There are plant geneticists out there who are strong Christians. Are we supposed to believe that the knowledge God has given them about how to improve a plant is wrong and misguided? What about doctors? Should doctors not be allowed to modify the human body (through surgery, transplant, therapy, etc)? Should we be modifying ecosystems to build cities? Roads? Churches? Cooking in itself is modifying food. Virtually every food product you buy in a store has technically been “modified” from its original form. Where do you draw the line of “modification?” Where does it stop being okay and start being wrong? Just some food for thought. (Sorry for the pun)
Today, in 2014, we enjoy the safest, most abundant, food supply in the history of the entire world! Never before have we seen the amount of choices of food we have today and the ease of which it’s available. It’s quite amazing to be honest. But yet, millions of Americans (And Christians) spend their time complaining about their food supply. I don’t get it! Whatever happened to:
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
For some perspective, picture in your mind your ancestors from the Great Depression, or the people from the original thirteen colonies of America, or even the people from ancient times. What do you think they would say about today’s food supply? I don’t think their first response would be negative. (Except the Israelites, who famously complained about food that literally fell from the sky) They would be blown away by the quantity, quality, and the availability of the food in our grocery stores.
People today (including myself) take so much for granted and complain about things we have. We repeatedly bite the hand that feeds us. A middle class person in America lives a more comfortable life than 99% of people in the history of humanity. Can’t that be enough? When are we going to be satisfied? To be thankful?
Farmers are working harder than you know every day trying to feed you. The least you could do is say thank you. Not complain about what they’re feeding you. If you do feel we are making bad decisions, then you are absolutely free to grow your own food! But I hope that you can understand that we are doing the best we can, and making the decisions we feel are the right ones. And that includes decisions about GMOs.
Find A Real Problem to Fight Against
Whether or not you agree with what I have to say about GMOs in these blog posts, the real truth I want to get at here is that you really shouldn’t be wasting your time fighting against GMOs. (And to be honest, I shouldn’t have to be spending my time writing this blog to defend them.) Where in the Bible is this listed as a priority? I’ve talked about the brokenness and the imperfection in this world. Here is a list of some of the real issues that I believe each and every one of us should be investing our time and energy into stopping:
- Human Slavery: There are 30 million human slaves in the world today. 30 million.
- Poverty: 1 billion children are born into poverty. 22,000 children die each year because of it.
- Hunger: 805 million people do not have enough available food to live a healthy, active lifestyle.
- Abuse: 6 million children are reported to have been abused in the United States alone. 1 in 4 women will experience some type of abuse in their lifetime.
A lesser, non-proven issue? GMOs: Responsible for 0 deaths and 0 sicknesses since they were introduced.
Reading these things will probably make you feel sad. There are two things we should all do after reading these statistics. 1. Be thankful for what we have. 2. Stop wasting time complaining and start doing something positive to help reduce some of these numbers! A song I think of when I write this is Matthew West’s “Do Something.”
The Reality of Sustainable Food Production
As Christians, we have to understand that this world is broken and will remain that way until the second coming of our Lord. Sustainable food production, while possible in theory, is never going to be perfect. Are GMOs perfect? No. Is it possible that someday we will find a better alternative? Yes. However, until the day comes when we no longer need the technology, we must continue to improve our methods of production. I believe GMOs to be better for the soil environment, easier to grow for farmers, higher food production for poverty-ravished communities, and overall better for producing safe, high-quality, affordable food. That’s why I grow them, eat them myself, and promote the truth about them. However, I look forward and wait eagerly for the day in which I no longer need to fight against imperfection! Behold, He is coming to make all things new!
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” –Romans 8:18-23