CHALAKKUDY, India (CNS) — More than 10,000 Catholics — including 30 international delegates — took part in a rally launching a global campaign against land-grabbing to produce bio-fuel.
As dancers performed Kerala’s traditional ethnic dances at the July 24 rally, elderly women could be seen holding colorful umbrellas with placards declaring, “Stop land-grabbing, this soil is our future.”
The campaign is spearheaded by the International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth, which works with young people ages 12-30 on four continents.
Syro-Malabar Archbishop Andrews Thazhath of Trichur, secretary-general of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, congratulated the Catholic youth movement for taking the lead to raise awareness against land-grabbing and food security.
“The food we eat is no more the beautiful creation of God. (Food items) are highly toxic due to the greed for profits. We need to make the public aware of all these concerns,” said Archbishop Thazhath.
George Dixon Fernandez, president of the international rural youth movement, said in a statement from the movement’s headquarters in Brussels: “Agriculture has no more culture attached to it. It has been reduced to agro-industry, and business houses are grabbing agricultural lands to promote their business.”
In the bid to develop bio-fuel, Dixon said, food crops are being replaced by commercial plantations in Africa and South America.
“This has affected even the food availability in many countries,” he said.
Unless these trends are stopped, he said, food prices will rise “and the poor will have to suffer.”
German Carolin Grieshop, the youth movement’s secretary-general, told Catholic News Service: “This is only the beginning. We will organize intensive programs in each of our member countries to bring these issues to the mainstream.
“Our aim is to make this a global campaign,” she added.