Thursday, March 20, 2014

Reflection for the Third Sunday in Lent

Presbyterians for Earth Care Lenten Reflections 2014
Advocating for Environmental and Social Justice

Isaiah 58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! 


Turning Around the Pointing Finger

Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil ( Isaiah 58:9)

We need to be calling out to the Lord to help us defend Creation from the multiple assaults that are occurring daily. You have undoubtedly heard of GMO foods, but do you know about genetically engineered (GE) trees? Like GMO foods, GE trees have been genetically modified to possess certain desirable traits, such as making them more economical to grow. For example, ArborGen is seeking fast track approval from the USDA to sell their cold-tolerant GE eucalyptus seedlings for vast plantations in the Southeast to be used as fuel. Eucalyptus has many drawbacks including that it is flammable and could result in devastating wildfires, it is water depleting and diminishes supplies for communities, forests and other ecosystems, and it is highly invasive.

Unlike GMO foods, GE trees are not annuals like corn and soybeans. They continue to grow for decades, spreading their seeds and pollen vast distances and increasing the chance of contamination from plantation to forest.  GE eucalyptus is only the beginning and if it is approved, GE poplar and GE pine won’t be far behind. What if native trees become contaminated with GE pine pollen to produce hybrid trees, for example, and our forests now contain copyrighted genes that ArborGen claims are theirs? Will ArborGen own trees in our national forests, like Monsanto has claimed that their GMO corn is in fields where it was never planted?

When we call out, the Lord will answer and say here I am, assuring us in this time of trouble. In a situation like this, Isaiah tells us to examine our own conscience and not point our finger directly at ArborGen or speak evil of GE trees. How does our desire for abundant and affordable energy drive this frantic search for quick sources of fuel? Are we guilty of holding back our voices about various abuses to God’s creation?  

Creator God, we call out to you and ask for your help in protecting the wondrous world you have given us to call home. You answer us and say, “Here I am.” May your presence give us the strength and courage to lift up our voices like a trumpet and speak out about the injustices to your creation that we witness each day. 

Jane Laping is the Vice Moderator of Presbyterians forEarth Care, is on the steering committee of Western North Carolina Green Congregations, and heads up the Creation Care Team at First Presbyterian Church in Asheville. She has been an advocate for the environment since the 1970’s.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I was just checking out your blog and had a quick question. I was hoping you could email me back when you get the chance. Thanks! - Cameron