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Agricultural reform must not become dehumanized, says Vatican official

.- World food prices are on the rise and the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization held a meeting in Brazil’s capital to address the problems associated with food production and distribution. 

Msgr. Renato Volante, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the FAO, weighed in on the ethical aspects of food production and trade at the Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, which was held in Brasilia, Brazil, on April 17-18.

In his talk, the prelate praised FAO’s efforts to eliminate hunger and malnutrition and reasserted the Holy See’s support for “those political and social options capable of providing a concrete and coherent response to current needs.”

He went on to speak about how “the lack of adequate nutrition not only impedes the full development of the personality of men and women, but also constitutes an evident negation of their rights, beginning with the fundamental right to life, of which nutrition is an indispensable component".

This conference, said Msgr. Volante, shows how the main requirement is "to transfer to the human dimension those forces ... which technology and new scientific research make it possible apply to agriculture and, hence, to food production".

The conference’s main goal was to discuss “food security”, that is, ensuring that everyone is able to be adequately fed.

Msgr. Volante indicated that this involves "considering not only the difficulties in agricultural production provoked by environmental and territorial factors" but also "those deriving from unfavorable trade policies, ... caused by the absence of progress in multilateral negotiations on trade in agricultural products".

These impasses must be resolved because the economies of many countries depend “almost exclusively on the export of a limited number of typical products, while their food security depends on the importation of many food products," he said.

Agricultural reform continues to be an "open and problematic question", he said, "and its slow evolution in countries of the region confirms the need to adopt land ownership strategies and laws that can be effectively implemented.”

Msgr. Volante emphasized the need for these reforms to take into account the situation of small scale landowners and of indigenous communities, “whose traditions are often far distant from the institutions and from the advantages offered by new production criteria.” The Church stands ready to help in this effort, he said.

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