For a humanity free from hunger

2012-10-16 L’Osservatore Romano

Setting humanity free from hunger is possible. Benedict XVI is certain of it and even points out how: it would suffice to abandon policies “that seem to have as their sole objective profit, the defence of markets, the non-alimentary use of agricultural products, the introduction of new production techniques without the necessary precautions”. And it would then be necessary to put an end to the speculative trends “that are now even affecting staples”, as well as to “the monopolization of cultivable areas”, which forces farmers to give up their land, excluded as they seem to be from every right. The Pope's condemnation of all obstacles to the right to nourishment of the whole human race is firm. Equally firm is his defence of the “new type of economy at the service of the person, that can encourage forms of sharing and of giving freely”, represented by agricultural cooperatives.

The Pope expressed his convictions in the Message he addressed to José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the FAO, on the occasion of World Food Day 2012, which is not by chance on the theme: “Agricultural Cooperatives – Key to Feeding the World”.

“The deepest meaning of cooperation”, the Pope explained, “indicates the person's  need to associate in order to achieve together with others new goals in the social, economic, cultural and religious spheres”. This is a dynamic and variegated reality that is  not only called to respond to immediate material needs, but also to contribute to the prospects of every community”. For her part, “the Church”, he added, “also considers work and the cooperative venture as ways of living an experience of unity and solidarity which can get the better of differences and even of social conflicts between individuals and the various groups”. This is why it is indispensable that public authorities “arrange for the necessary legislative and financial instruments to ensure that cooperatives in rural zones serve as an effective means for agricultural production, food security, social change and a more extensive improvement of living conditions.