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A Higher Calling

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Springtime: when the flora and fauna reemerge, the days grow longer, and Monsanto readies its latest genetically modified crop. This time around it’s sugar beets — “Roundup Ready” sugar beets, to be exact, engineered to withstand a key ingredient in the widely used herbicide (also made by Monsanto).

Among the critics of the new seeds — besides the Sierra Club and the Center for Food Safety — is a group called the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, which represents close to 300 faith-based investors and more than $100 billion in capital. The center has urged its members and the public to appeal directly to 63 major food companies, asking them to ban the use of the GMO beets in their products.

The ICCR’s message is simple: Don’t mess with God’s creation. And they’ve been preaching it consistently over a great many issues. The organization is one of the more surprising — and influential — demographics to join the environmental movement over the past several years. From Muslims to Evangelicals, religious groups of all cloths have used the good word and some of their considerable legislative heft to speak out against bottled water use, global warming (“What Would Jesus Drive?” was the name of one campaign), and numerous other eco-issues.

All this could prove to be a headache for Monsanto — but they’re veterans of this kind of opposition. Beets account for half of the nation’s sugar supply, so they’re certainly prepared to make a positive case for using the modified seeds.

More than anything, the ICCR and other religious groups demonstrate just how all-inclusive the wellness movement has become. All sorts of people have found that health and the environment fit with their values. It’s just that some are more divinely inspired than others.

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