1-July-2011 -- Vatican Information Service |

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The Pope Highlights The Importance Of Family-Run Farms

VATICAN CITY, 1 JUL 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Pope received participants in thirty-seventh Conference of the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Benedict XVI greeted the newly elected head of the organisation, Jose Graziano da Silva, thanking the outgoing president, Jacques Diouf, for the "competence and dedication" he had shown during the years he was in charge of the FAO.

"Poverty, underdevelopment and the resulting hunger are often the outcome of selfish attitudes which, arising from man's heart, find expression in his social activities, in economic relations and in the conditions of the market, ... and are translated into the denial of the primary right of all individuals to nourishment and freedom from hunger. How can we remain silent before the fact that food has become the object of speculation and is tied to the movements of financial markets which, lacking clear rules and moral principles, seem fixated on the single objective of profit? Nourishment is a factor which touches on the fundamental right to life", he said.

"The international situation and recurrent concerns caused by instability and price increases demand concrete responses, which must necessarily be united in order to achieve results which individual States cannot achieve alone. This means that solidarity must become an essential criterion for all political and strategic action", the Holy Father explained. "In this perspective, international institutions are called to work in keeping with their mandate, supporting values which accord with human dignity, eliminating attitudes of closure, and leaving no space for individual demands which are passed off as being in the general interest".

Benedict XVI also recalled how the FAO is also "called to re-examine its own structure, freeing it from impediments which hinder the organisation from achieving the goal set out in its Constitution to guarantee nutritional development, the availability of food products and the development of rural areas, so as to ensure that humankind is free from hunger".

The Pope went on to speak of "the situation of millions of children, who are the first victims of this tragedy, condemned to early death or to a delay in their physical and mental development. ... Concern for younger generations could be a way to contrast the abandonment of rural areas and agricultural work", he said. However, "despite the commitments taken on and the obligations they entail, we must note that concrete aid and assistance are often limited to emergency situations, forgetting that a coherent concept of development must be capable of guaranteeing a future for every individual, family or community, favouring long term objectives". Thus, "support must be given to initiatives ... aimed at rediscovering the importance of family-run farms, supporting the vital role they play in ensuring stable food security".

"Food security is an authentically human requirement", Pope Benedict went on. "Guaranteeing it for present and future generations also means safeguarding ourselves against the uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources. Indeed, the process of consumption and waste seems to overlook any concern for ... biodiversity, which is so important for agriculture".

"At this time in which agriculture is beset by so many problems, but is also facing new opportunities for alleviating the problem of hunger", the Holy Father told his audience, "you can ensure that, by guaranteeing a nourishment responsive to people's needs, individuals can grow in their true identity as creatures made in the image of God".

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