GE CropsIn a massive new 420-page report, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Committee on Genetically Engineered Crops summarizes their findings on the effects and future genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Here are five facts you should know from the report:

1. Biologists have used genetic engineering of crop plants to express novel traits since the 1980s. But to date, genetic engineering has only been used widely in a few crops for only two traits — insect resistance and herbicide resistance.

2. Despite the claims by critics of GE crops, there is not evidence they have had adverse effects on human health. The committee examined epidemiological data on incidence of cancers and other human-health problems and found that foods that used GE crops were as safe as foods that used non-GE crops. Additionally, a large number of experimental studies provided reasonable evidence that animals were also not harmed by eating food derived from GE crops.
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At the Catholic Workd Report, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg observes that, as populist regimes implode across Latin America, it’s unclear that the Catholic Church in the age of Francis is well-equipped to cope with whatever comes next.

Since Pope Francis often states that realities are more important than ideas, let’s recall some basic realities about presidents Correa and Morales. Both are professed admirers of Chávez and committed to what Correa calls “socialism of the 21st century” or what Morales describes as “communitarian socialism.”

Both men have also followed the classic populist playbook. This involves (1) dismantling constitutional restraints on power; (2) blaming their nations’ problems on foreigners and foreign interests; (3) following a political logic of internal confrontation with those designated as “enemies of the people”; (4) fostering a cult of personality around a charismatic leader; and (5) creating large constituencies of supporters through disbursement of state largesse. The result has not only been political oppression. The economies of Bolivia and Ecuador are now formally classified as “repressed” in the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom. That means they are among the least free, most corrupt, and statist in the world.

The fact, however, that Correa and Morales were invited to speak at a conference at the Holy See reflects the Church’s ambiguous relationship with left-populist movements and governments in recent years. The Venezuelan bishops’ willingness, for instance, to name and shame a populist regime so directly for its destructive policies is the exception rather than the rule.

Read “Pope Francis, Populism, and the Agony of Latin America” by Samuel Gregg at the Catholic World Report.

The spring session of the 2016 Acton Lecture Series closed on May 17th with an address by Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico entitled “Freedom Indivisible: Private Property as the Solid Ground for Religious Liberty,” which examined how private property provides an essential foundation for religious liberty in a free and virtuous society. We’re pleased to share the lecture with you via the video player below.

 

large_five-reasons-to-understand-our-economy-nxu9sa2s“Economic activity is one of the most common and basic forms of human interaction and the Bible has much to say about it,” says Dale Arand. “However, it takes time to understand the complexities of our modern economy so that we can better apply God’s principles to our everyday activity.”

Arand offer five reasons it’s worthwhile to understand economics, including:

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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, May 23, 2016
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The poor are paying more and more for everyday purchases, a new study warns
Max Ehrenfreund, Washington Post

The poor often spend more on all kinds of things. Households that have less money to spare in any given week, for example, are forced to buy toilet paper and similar goods in small packages, increasing the prices they pay.

California Will Put Minimum-Wage Theories to the Test
James Sherk, National Review Online

California employers must pay at least $15 an hour by 2023. Adjusted for inflation, that works out to $13.39 an hour in today’s dollars — higher than any other country’s real minimum wage, even France’s. And it will soon cover one-third of Californian employees. The Golden State has taken its minimum wage into uncharted territory.

Study: Migrant-Smuggling Worth up to $6 Billion in 2015
Associated Press

Smuggling networks cashing in on the huge flow of migrants into Europe had an estimated turnover last year of up to $6 billion, international law enforcement agencies said Tuesday.

How Americans define the sharing economy
Kenneth Olmstead and Aaron Smith, Pew Research

Even though stories about services like Uber and Airbnb have put the “sharing economy” in the news, just 27% of Americans have ever heard of the term before, according to Pew Research Center’s recent survey of the new digital economy. Moreover, even those who have heard of the term have widely divergent views about what the sharing economy actually is.

Bishop Dominique Rey speaking at Acton's April 20 conference in Rome.

Bishop Dominique Rey speaking at Acton’s April 20 conference in Rome.

Yesterday in the French section of the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, an exclusive interview finally appeared with the outspoken Bishop Dominique Rey of Toulon-Fréjus. Bishop Rey provided the interview when in Rome last month to speak about the current challenges to religious and economic freedom in Europe at the Acton Institute’s conference “Freedom with Justice: Rerum Novarum and the New Things of Our Time“.

The May 19 headline “Sortir du prêt-à-penser” (Thinking Outside the Box) was based on the bishop’s appeal for a deeper study of Leo’s XIII’s  landmark 1891 social encyclical Rerum Novarum and Catholic social doctrine in general, but also his discontent with the way secular Western culture superficially appraises human nature and commonly proposes solutions to social injustice, while leaving God, natural law and human dignity out of the larger picture. Quoting him from the April 20 conference, we read:

Any analysis Rerum Novarum is based on the certainty that the answer to the evils of our time will come not so much as a particular technical solution, but more so out of respect for the natural law, that is, for man himself as God created him, and by recognizing God’s place in the society. Only opening up to such transcendence helps resist absolute [forms of] materialism and consumerism.

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venezula-crisisWhat’s going on in Venezuela?

Because of high inflation and unemployment, Venezuela has the most miserable economy in the world. The country currently has an inflation rate of 180 percent, but that’s expected to increase 1,642 percent by next year. The current unemployment rate is 17 percent, and the IMF projects it will reach nearly 21 percent next year.

The country is also crippled by shortages of goods and services. A few weeks ago Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro instituted a two-day workweek for state employees because of power shortages. (Because most of the country’s energy is produced by a hydroelectric plant, critically low water levels are blamed for the energy crisis.)

President Maduro has declared a state of emergency, threatening to seize factories and jail business owners who have stopped production. 

Shortages of basic goods like food, toilet paper, and medicine has devastated a nation where more than 70 percent of the people already live in poverty.

What caused the crisis? 
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