My Perspective as a Christian on GMOs

(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?

Technology

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)

Stop Complaining

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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45 thoughts on “My Perspective as a Christian on GMOs

  1. Pingback: Greg Peterson – Advocate for Truth: GMOs | The Peterson Farm Blog

  2. Hey guys, I love this post! My own thoughts on this is that God gave us the intellect to create new technologies so we should use them to further His kingdom Again great post!

    • Why would anyone even question God’s plan for mankind “produce and be fruitful after your KIND”. This does certainly not include taking a gene from a fish and inserting it into a canola seed. This is not what God has intended!! Please if you are a Christian, DO NOT SUPPORT GMO.

      • what part of having dominion over all creatures and being commanded to enjoy them for food makes taking a fish gene and putting it into a seed wrong? hmmm. this is so dumb I can’t think of how to process what you just said.

  3. We are organic beef and dairy farmers, its easy to get caught up in the trap of thinking that every problem has a chemical solution, when you spray your roundup ready GMO crops with that roundup it ends up in the seed there’s plenty of research out there that states its in the crop and in turn its in the food, and what is roundup, its a poison

    • I agree with this statement! And I believe God has given us talents and initiative to take care of His creation and find solutions for the problems mentioned in this blog. GMOs will make such a positive difference in the fight against hunger, there is no doubt about that!

      • People seem to think that people are staving because of a lack of food in the world. that is a terrible lie. 50% of all edible food in the world is wasted if we woke up tomorrow with 50% increase in yields not one more person in the world would be fed. The problem is not lack of food, it is the lack of proper distribution of food because warlords stop the food trucks and steal the food from them before they ever get to the poor starving people! the answer to the fight against hunger is not GMOs (which are not at all proven to increase yields) it is to teach the people in developing countries how to grow their own food sustainably and practically.

      • GMOs definitely increase yields on a large scale. You could grow better yields on a smaller scale, but certainly not on a larger scale. They allow crops to reach their highest yield potential. I talk about that in the blog.

  4. Wow! And God said , Let there be GMO unlabelled foods that have spliced in genes from foods like corn so Linda can unknowingly tip her husband’s allergic reaction odds into the absolutely guaranteed to rush to emergency shoot him full of epinephrine and get him on oxygen – hopefully before his throat swells shut and he dies event. Then let’s make sure you do it in my name. Seriously?

    Did he also say grow terminal seed and prideuce that is hybridized up tge wazoo so the poor can eat? He must be si ashamed of me-sharing abundantly productive hetitage seed.

    I get so dismayed when I am told to do something in God’s name like this. God gave me a mind and critical thinking skills. He doesn’t expect me to shut them off and be a sheep. Very disappointed but nit surprised.

    • You may purchase non-GMO foods from the organic aisle. I believe that non-GMO foods should be labeled and for the most part, they are. I would never, ever wish for anyone to have an allergic reaction like the one you mentioned. However, I have not seen any evidence that would equate GMOs to allergic reactions. Rather, GMOs have the potential to save millions of lives from starvation and poverty. If you feel like GM products are causing your husband to have a reaction, please feel free to buy organic products. However, I don’t believe it is your right to deny millions of people around the globe the chance at a better life.

      • GMOs do not give anyone a better life! Have you heard of Golden rice? it was supposed to save millions of children in developing countries from vitamin A because all they ate was rice which is very low in vitamin A. so Scientists created golden rice to help save these children from blindness and death. sounds like a worthy cause to me, but guess what? a kid would have to eat 27 bowls of this rice to get sufficient vitamen A per day! GMOs answer was to deal with the symptom of the Vitamen A deficiency by creating a rice higher in vitamen A. But what was the real problem? the real problem was a lack of food variety in their diets but no one tried to figure out how to grow and breed different plant variety’s in their climate to introduce different food for a Variety in thier diet.

    • well unless you can prove that GMO’s are not well tested for allergic reactions, that any person has been proven to have had a serious allergic reaction from GMO’s, and that terminator seeds are actually on the market right now, then I seriously think you should meditate on Exodus 20:16 ► “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

  5. Well done! I shared this (along with mentioning your larger blog) on my Facebook. My husband and I constantly encounter friends, coworkers and acquaintances who do not understand where food comes from and thus they believe anything they read on the internet. Your blog is hitting all the areas that we have tried to address, but never seem to get anywhere. We grew up on farms, have degrees in agriculture & my husband has worked in the ag/food industry for 25 years. But since we are no longer living on the farm, it makes it even more difficult to convince others that our food is safe. So thank you for sharing not only the truth about GMO’s and our food, but also for sharing the Truth of God’s Word. You have a gift – continue to use it for God’s glory!

  6. In your above post, you ask a question, then provide a partial answer: “Are GMOs perfect? No.” You fail to explain,however, GMO deficiencies. Can you do so, please?

  7. Just because u make statements with out science and evidence doesn’t make it so. Independant evidence shows that GMO’s are untested beyond 3 months and do cause serious health effects. Just because u say God approves dies not make it so and if GMO’s can not be labelled tel me why God would approve

    • GMOs must be tested for several years before they can even be sold to farmers. I never said “God approves.” But if a technology can feed millions of hungry, poverty-stricken people, and there has yet to be evidence of sickness or death from consumption, then I think the right thing to do is use the technology to save lives.

  8. “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.” ~G. Peterson

    Very funny (: But on a serious note, we know that many of the ancients spent a lot of time making sacrifices and performing rituals (some quite horrible) to ensure the fertility of their fields and a good crop for the year.

    Today, we know that plants have nutritional needs, and if we meet those needs, each plant will be larger and more healthy, and more resistant to diseases from stress. The needs of plants were discovered by people in the last couple of hundred years through empirical testing and observations, and they are: Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphate! That’s it. No goddesses or gods. No tossing virgins in the volcano. Just a simple application of Miracle-Gro.

    So it is important for us to remember our superstitious and idolatrous past, and how using the elements on the periodic table can result in growing five times more food on per hectare. That saves wilderness land also. A good thing all around.

    • …and Sulfer, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Boron, Copper, Iron, Chloride, etc, etc,

      If only it were that simple to grow crops…”just fertilize it with N, P, K”

      That certainly doesn’t address pests (weeds, bugs, fungus, bacteria, et al).

      Tools in a toolbox, everything has to work together.

  9. GMO or non-GMO, Conventional or Organic doesn’t really matter anymore. The FACTS have shown that the cultivation of annual grains as our staple food crops cannot feed everyone on the planet without destroying soil and water resources. Since the dawn of mankind every civilization which based their staple food crops on annual grains has suffered a devastating collapse. God gave us cover crops that can hold soil in place when a cash crop is not being grown, recycle nutrients, increase organic matter, reduce pest pressure, etc. but we don’t see very many impassioned blog posts about the beauty of cover crops. God also created a plethora of nutritious and delicious perennial food crops that only need to be planted once which requires minimal site disturbance and can produce abundant yields for generations. God also created herbivores which are very efficient at turning perennial grasses and forage into high quality protein and fertilizer. In fact, God gave us the intellect and initiative to combine all of these perennial and annual plants with livestock of all kinds into a beautiful and multi-functional perennial polyculture system. In fact, God has already provided us with a working model of this system, yet, we were cast out of this garden to spend our lives tilling the dust of this land under the sweltering sun tending monocultures of grain and poisoning the earth with chemicals of our own design thus rendering great swaths of land inhospitable for any of God’s beloved creatures. If you’re still arguing about GMOs then you’re completely missing the point.

    • Absolutely, hands down, the best paragraph you’ll find on this blog. I’d like to see a reply from Greg on this.

      • I think cover crops are the future (although they do not work well in every climate/condition)! I also think more perennial plants grazed by livestock would be great. However, you portray farmers as “poisoning” the earth and making it “inhospitable.” That is not true. There are definitely things we can improve on, but the way agriculture is right not is not “deadly.” The point of all of my blogs is to enforce the fact that farmers are not monsters, most of us are simple, hard-working families making the best decisions that we can to help feed the world. Demonizing us (or our practices) is not helping anything. Solution and innovation is helping and I agree that we definitely need to make positive changes.

  10. Greg, while i only found your website yesterday and this is the first blog entry that i have read i must say i am totally amazed at your insight and wisdom. I hope you continue to post your views and share your knowledge with us. I too was raised on a farm, have been in the ag industry my entire life (almost 60 so have been around a while). I have absolutely no problem with consuming the current products i find in our grocery stores and my our local meat market.

  11. I have a question:
    Do you have to buy new seeds every year? Can you glean seeds from your gmo crop and replant them the following year to produce the same harvest?
    This is a topic I’ve heard about the reason to use heirloom seeds and organic crops/gardens.
    Personally, I believe that if everyone had a small kitchen garden in their backyard or on their patio, there would be no need for gmos.

    • We do have to buy new seeds each year for the crops that are genetically engineered. For our other crops, we keep part of the seeds back to plant the next year. The only reason we can’t save the GM seeds are because they are a patented technology that the seed company wants to protect. As farmers, we understand this practice and make the choice to purchase those seeds instead of ones we can save. Totally agree with you that if we all planted gardens and returned to a population where 50% or more of us were growing food we wouldn’t need so much technology in agriculture. However, that doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon! (I’d love if it would!)

      • I can understand you decision to use GM seeds, but it really saddens me. As a Christian, I believe God’s design is superior to anything a lab can create. God’s seeds don’t put you in debt either–which I don’t even know if y’all carry any debt.
        So glad you are able to save seeds from your non-GM crops. Are non-GM alternatives not viable or available in Kansas? Seems like that’s good farm land.

        Another question: Do y’all get government subsidies for using the GM seeds?

      • God designed the humans with the minds and abilities to know how to make these changes to the crops we grow. I think that is pretty cool to think about. Not sure what your debt statement is all about….. no one has even been driven into debt by buying or growing GMO seeds. You always have a choice to grow a non-GMO variety, the reason we grow several GM crops (corn, soybeans, alfalfa) is because they are better! The benefits they provide are obvious in the field. Better yields, less time in the field, less pesticide use, etc. And no, no one is getting government subsidies for using GM seeds. Those are based on something entirely different.

  12. i have a little scenario for you. i own a bull pasture by your hiefer pasture and my bulls get out and breed all your purebred Angus hiefers to a Charolais. i would be obligated to compensate you right? Bulls represent pollen from roundup ready corn and the hiefers represent a certified organic crop of corn. if that exact scenario happened with the GMOs pollinating the organic field guess what happens? that organic farmer loses his organic certification and could potentially get sued by Monsanto for patent infringement.

  13. Sir you should check your facts and reasoning.I can only say it does not add up in my mind and sounds like a good excuse to grow gmo.

  14. Here’s some information on why GMO’s are not helping people what so ever.
    https://gmo-awareness.com/2014/01/20/does-your-body-absorb-genetically-engineered-dna/

    Not to mention the Pesticides farmers use on their crops not only kill insects, bugs etc ( Wildlife which is God’s creation ) But it also gets absorbed into those crops which you then eat and digest with your body, your cells absorb what you eat….the nutrients get spread throughout your body….
    http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/15/opinions/schubert-bees-herbicides/

    There’s a lot of research done about this stuff all you have to do is look….

    ” What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
    For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. ” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

    Here’s a question to ask. With all these studies done on GMO’s and Pesticides, if Jesus was here with us physically now, do you think he would accept this? Let alone eat any of it?
    What would Jesus do….

    • Do you really believe everything you read on the internet without checking its sources? Have you ever considered why CNN articles seem to always tell you how your life is at risk? They do what they have to make money. If they tell you everything is fine, who needs to read that? Also, gmo-awareness.com is far from a reliable source of information. They never reference any scientific or peer-reviewed articles that actually support what they are saying and are (improperly) citing them to make it seem like they know what they are talking about. Read something from an accurate, credible source. http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/will-gmos-hurt-my-body/

  15. This blog is such a blessing to the world.

    So many people have such a simplistic mindset of agriculture: ‘This farmer is the villain, and this farmer is the hero.’ The truth is that “every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”

    My 73-year old father recently retired from farming over 500 acres. He reluctantly leased his land to the big-time local operator whose hands are lily soft. I watched as the guy pulled his Caddy SUV into the field where my daddy was fixing the combine, and I stared at his gold rings as he drummed his fingers waiting for Daddy to climb out from the innards where he was banging on some stubborn plate or rotor. Daddy knew that this guy, of all the local operators begging to rent his land, would take the best care of the land. He was right, even if it kinda hurts to watch strangers tending the beloved soil.

    As much as we would all love to keep farming the land, the truth is that our family can’t. I married the love of my life who isn’t a farmer. My brothers signed parts of their lives to the military, and although they’d love to come back and farm, it isn’t possible at the moment. Meanwhile Daddy is wondering if he should go ahead and sell the combine. He already sold his new grain truck.

    All that to say, the future of farming is dubious. God blessed my daddy with excellent health, but year after year of spraying with ever-increasing concentrations of this or that was getting to him. I was as passionate about big farming as the next farm girl as a 4-H kid, but now as I grow older I realize something has to change. Like you said, the current model isn’t likely to last much longer.

    What really bothers me is the belief that conventional family farmers are bad guys. What also bothers me is the refusal of conventional ag to thoughtfully consider the concerns of others, because it perpetuates the stereotype of the close-minded farmer.

    I understand that adapting practices is no easy thing. Still, sometimes it’s a must, like when the tobacco farms had to be scaled back.

    If all the talent and resources used to protect practices that no one is fond of were shifted to innovation, a lot more could be getting accomplished and the nation would be much less divided. And there would be no doubt who the Hero would be.

    Jesus Christ who makes all things new. 🙂

    Long live the family farmer!

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