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Water Loss, seed destruction - Saving the World’s Seeds - Dr. Vandana Shiva

by : The WE
Sunday April 17, 2005 - 03:42

Thank you for joining us on Catalyst Radio.

JPEG - 8.8 kb

Would you start by talking about some general issues surrounding globalization.

Dr. Vandana Shiva: Well those of use who are concerned about the globalization that has been contrived and yet made to look as if it is a natural evolutionary step, we are concerned about the injustice and undemocratic system on which it is based.

And everything we said, fifteen years ago, when these rules were being put in place, very artificially, under GAT and then became the WTO rules, or on the financial side as the instrumentalities and conditionalities of the World Bank and IMF, what we said fifteen years ago turns out not to have been an exaggeration but an underestimation of the devastation of both nature, society and economies.

I had talked about the WTO agreement on agriculture as the death knell for Indian farmers. Every year 16,000 farmers are being killed. They are taking their lives, but I don’t think they are taking their lives. It is that they are being pushed to the edge of survival - through the indebtedness that is an inevitable result of turning them into a market for Monsanto seed, and, on the other hand disposable items, when Cargill and ConAgra have to dump subsidized grain through a liberalized agreement.

When I started to fight intellectual property rights in the WTO, I was concerned about patents on life. And seed patents now we can see what they are doing.

American farmers are being harassed, fined for three million dollars, and the crime is seed saving?

What could be a worse situation for humanity? To turn something as valuable as saving seeds for the future into a criminal activity.

Similar laws have just been passed in India, two weeks ago.

I think anyone who doesn’t resist this kind of globalization is not being fully human, is not exercising their duties.

Catalyst Radio: You spoke about how this is being played out around water, around water globally. I wonder if you could say more about that with water as an example. Specifically the impact in your country, in India.

Dr. Vandana Shiva: Well, three major issues around water co-modification that are creating new movements in India - a new generation of ecology movements, a new generation of social justice movements, a new generation of human rights movements - the first is the mining of very, very scarce and precious ground water.

In remaining pockets - that wasn’t destroyed by ’Green Revolution,’ which is the name given to industrial agriculture - this mining is now being done by Coke and Pepsi. This culture in which they are bringing more soft drinks for sale, more bottled water for sale as Kinley’s and Aquafina, they are mining for every plant that they have set up in the five years since they came back to India.

One point five to two million liters per day leaving a water famine.

People are resisting because woman are having to walk ten, twenty, thirty miles to find water. The Coke, Pepsi campaign I believe is going to intensify in the future. Woman in Carela organized to shut a plant down. Coke has just manipulated the courts to undo an earlier court judgment. We are going to have to continue to resist.

The second, very, very major issue is World Bank driven privatization of water in urban areas. Deli being a prime case where the urban supply is being handed over to Sways. On the one hand this means privatization the sacred Ganges. On the other hand it means an increase in tariffs, ten times to fifteen times, excluding the poor, drawing the public access that was guaranteed to everyone.

The third very, very huge movement that’s emerging is around two hundred billion dollar river linking project. It is basically a river linking diversion project. It is a privatization project. Because you can’t privatize rives as free flowing systems. You can only privatize them after you have locked them in dams and captured them in canals. These three major privatization movements are also being countered by people’s movements to keep water in the commons, keep it as a public good, defend it as a human right.

Catalyst Radio: I just came back from Guatemala where we have been interviewing people about the so called trade agreement, the CAFTA trade agreement, which is almost an unknown factor here. How much of a role does commercial media, does corporate media play in keeping people in the dark about these very important trade agreements, these economic policies that impact all of our lives.

Dr. Vandana Shiva: I think it is the key, to push anti-people policies through.

It is the key to making slavery appear like freedom.

It is the key to not allowing the stories of resistance to reach others. Because for that people draw solidarity, people draw energy, people draw strength.

That’s why it becomes absolutely necessary to create alternate means of communication between people because the dominant corporate media has become one big lie.

Catalyst Radio: You mention the danger of people getting information about what is happening because it builds solidarity. The World Social Forum happened again recently, what are some of the things you have seen happen as you have traveled around the world with regard to these issues, in terms of people networking, coalition building and the types of resistance that are taking place all around the globe?

Dr. Vandana Shiva: Well I will give you just three very simple examples of movements that have spread very rapidly.

A few years as Monsanto started to push genetically modified crops and food around the world using all the instruments of corruption of governments, of WTO rules, we started to talk about declaring regions GM free. Freedom zones just as we used to have nuclear free zones.

There are more than five thousand freedom zones in Europe now. And even in the United States counties are starting to organize and have referendums.

It is a movement that is just multiplying. People are learning from each other and saying we can do that too. We don’t have to wait until a WTO gives us freedom. Freedom is ours to exercise and live.

The Coke, Pepsi campaigns as they have built up. The issues of communities in the south loosing their water have got deeply connected to concerns of northern campuses.

With the entire mafia rule around Coca-Cola plants and the killing of trade unionists who are trying to organize, two ends of the Coke campaign are starting to join together to find new ways to reclaim freedom for communities.

And the third, very, very, big issue that has multiplied as people have talked to each other, I believe is the seed issue.

You know I started to work on seed patenting, seed conservation in 1987 onwards when I first came to the GAT agreement. There used to be four or five people one could pick up the phone and talk to.

Today there is not a country where there isn’t a movement for farmers rights, where there isn’t a movement to save native seeds, and where there isn’t a movement to challenge patents on life and patents on seed.

So I think this communication outside the dominant media - and these are issues absolutely shut out and censored in the dominant media - but outside the dominant media people are communicating with each other and the realities are getting connected to deal with the handful of greedy giants.

When we start to exchange notes, it’s five corporate seed companies, five water giants, five agribusiness giants, that’s what we are up against across the worlds. In the United States as much as India and Guatemala and Germany.

Catalyst Radio: You talked about seed patenting and the dilemmas with that. Could you say a little more about what the dangers of that are. About the biological dangers of having homogenous seed production. And what that means to people, particularly people in indigenous populations around the world, which are the ones that hold this rich treasure of centuries of knowledge.

Dr. Vandana Shiva: The first problem that starts with the patenting of seed is that corporations do not sell seed according to what is adapted to local climate, or what farmers need. They sell seed according to where they have been able to do the quickest manipulation.

So that using that manipulation they can claim novelty.

Claiming novelty they can claim patents.

I’ve been of the view that genetic engineering was an excuse to enforce patents on seed.

It was an unnecessary step in improving breeding. We don’t have a single improved crop through genetic engineering.

We got herbicide resistant crops and we have BT toxin crops. Neither of which are improvements from nature’s perspective, from farmer’s perspective.

Now if you just look at the world. Where is the highest rate of expansion of crop varieties? It’s in genetically engineered Soya, genetically engineered corn, genetically engineered canola, and genetically engineered cotton.

So you are getting the food base of the world, which should be something like ten thousand crops, being reduced to four genetically engineered crops.

None adapted to any ecosystem.

All of them in the hands of one company, Monsanto, controlling something like ninety-three, ninety-four percent of all GM seeds sold anywhere in the world.

So you have the problem of mono-cultures, of homogeneity, but you also have the problem of total control of the seed supply.

And that total control of the seed supply has many social and economic implications.

First implication is that farmers who used to save seed, and who used to be able to exchange seed, are now treated as thieves of intellectual property.

It also means that the cost of seed start to skyrocket because farmers must pay royalties, must pay technology fees, must buy seeds annually, and a zero cost input in farming has ended up being the highest cost input in farming.

In addition, corporations like Monsanto ensure that farmers alternative supplies are destroyed by other legal trips - seed laws, compulsory legislation like the Iraqi ’81 order, like the Indian Seed Act, and through that they ensure that farmer’s alternatives, genetic diversity, biodiversity, specially in the countries that are home to genetic diversity are wiped out.

Which is a threat not just to those communities.

It is a threat to humanity.

It is a threat to our food supply.

It is a threat to our security.

Catalyst Radio: Quite often people who dismiss the concerns of people like yourself are sharing, they keep saying that all we have is a criticism. That what we are is always against, not what we are for. Can you say something about what this global movement is really asking for. Asking for what we want to happen.

Dr. Vandana Shiva: You know, before I started to fight against patents in seed, I started to first save seed.

Because you cannot afford to critic a system to which you cannot offer an alternative.

First of all, those who are destroying alternatives, will then treat the absence of alternatives as the reason for their existence.

Secondly, you really do not have the moral authority to demand a shift if you have not been able to show that there are other ways, and better ways to do things.

On seed saving, we firmly believe seed is a common resource.

Seed is a common heritage.

And so we actually do what we believe in.

We create community seed banks from which farmers can take the seeds they need according to their agriculture, according to their cropping systems.

Seeds in a free exchange of a common property.

In agriculture, when we critic globalization of trade, and we critic the control of agriculture in the hands of a few giants, and the technologies of non-sustainability, we do the farming and the trade that allows farmers to have alternatives.

Navdanya organization that I founded has trained more that two hundred thousand farmers in India to go corporate free and chemical free. And corporate seed free.

Our farmers have increased their income three-fold. They have reduced their expenditure by ninety percent.

The only place in India where farmers are not getting into debt is areas where they are practicing sustainable organic farming.

And are engaging in fair trade where they set the terms of the market, rather than the genocidal terms created by the ConAgra’s and the Cargill’s.

And in case of water, we conserve water.

We conserve every drop.

We make our contribution to building up and rebuilding our common legacy and then we have the moral right and the authority to say you will not mess around with out water.

Because it is water that we share.

It is water that we conserve collectively.

And it is water to which access for all must be guaranteed.

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Commentaires de l'article

> Water Loss, seed destruction - Saving the World’s Seeds - Dr. Vandana Shiva
Monday April 18 - 05:04 - Posted by 36128142307874e0...

The companies don’t support humanity, it is only their stocks which counts. If human beings of all kind would try to pass companies products it makes them obsolete!

> Water Loss, seed destruction - Saving the World’s Seeds - Dr. Vandana Shiva
Thursday April 21 - 04:49 - Posted by d75de1905d104e45...

This is truly sick indeed. GMO foods were not made by people on a quest for evil and world domination. They were made by scientists who truly believed that what they were doing would be good for humanity. Crops that can give high-yield in bad soil, are safe from pest destruction, and are higher in nutrition (golden rice) doesn’t sound like a bad idea. I know for a fact that GMO foods are safe for consumption. All it takes is knowledge about how they are made to understand why. Pesticides, which likely account for most cases of neurological disorders and misdiagnosed ailments, are used less for GMO foods with a natural protection against insects.
The point is that the true intention of the GMO inventers was to feed the world and cut rates of poverty and sickness drastically on a global scale. They never knew that in the hands of venture capitalists and CEO’s their inventions would lead to global devastation.

> Water Loss, seed destruction - Saving the World’s Seeds - Dr. Vandana Shiva
Monday April 25 - 17:30 - Posted by 5c5aad6cb8a8df32...

In response to the pro-GMO message above, a few questions come to mind. The person said, "All it takes is knowledge about how they are made to understand why." Answer some of these questions, because I HAVE knowledge about GMOs!

Why are GE foods not required to be safety-tested?

Why won’t any company insure biotechnology industry?

Why has a five-point Emergency Response Plan has been formulated by the European Commission, designed to cope when GMO plants result in widespread illness or the death of wildlife if it’s so safe?

There is no precision with gene transfer, so how do we know it’s safe?
The common method to “splice a gene” is to blast them into the DNA with a gene gun. Scientists first coat thousands of tiny shards of gold or tungsten with the foreign gene. Then they point it at a dish containing thousands of cells. Then they fire, hoping that at least some of the foreign genes will end up in the right place in at least some of the DNA. This is what the biotech industry refers to as their highly precise method of gene transfer.

"Junk DNA” refers to the 97% of the genetic material whose role in living organisms is not yet understood. How can scientists say for sure they know what will happen, particularly in successive gnerations? They can’t even control where a trait will land on the DNA.

Transgenic crops increase the use of pesticides and accelerate the evolution of "super weeds" and resistant insect pests strains — therefore how do they help the environment or humanity?

According to the United Nations, the fundamental cause of world hunger is not a shortage of food in the world – in fact there have been huge surpluses – but rather people are too poor to produce or buy the food they need. Today we produce more food per inhabitant than at any other time in human history. The real causes of hunger – are poverty and a lack of access to food. How does creating more food via genetic engineering help address that?

Additionally, GE seeds cost more and lock farmers into tough contracts to lease the technology. The technology takes away farmers’ rights to grow their own food and help their community become more sustainable. How does that help the world’s poor?

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