BEUNA PARK, CA – Internationally acclaimed environmental activist Vandana Shiva made a strong case in support of her stand for biodiversity and Ahimsa farming, stunning the rapt audience by highlighting industrial malpractices which are adversely impacting agriculture. The hall at the...
After a welcome address by Kantibhai of Annekat Center and a flattering introduction by Dr Jayesh Shah,the emcee for the event, Shiva said ‘Food is the breath of life but as an industrial product it is a threat to life. Through the corporate takeover,food it has become a commodity and a killer,” Shiva underscored Quoting Gandhi she said “the earth has enough food for everyone’s need not for everyone’s greed.” “Chemicals were made for war not for agriculture,” Shiva continued, setting the tone for her address. She went on to explain biodiversity and mixed farming as against monoculture farming, her fight against GMO and biopiracy and how in 1995 Monsanto entered India! Monsanto is a US multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation which has a global impact and is synonymous with genetically modified organism (GMO) seeds . Monsanto hit Indian agriculture hard killing the seed market and leaving no option for farmers, pushing for a mix of monoculture farming and GMO. Today 95 percent cotton seeds in India are owned by Monsanto .Shiva spoke against genetic engineering describing it as a violent operation by shooting a new gene into a plant and rupturing the fabric of the organism. “Violent technology leads to violent consequences,” she emphasized.
She spoke against patenting of seeds, which Monsanto pushes for, saying seeds are not inventions but a part of creation which is free for all humanity. “If seed is monopolized we are destroyed,” Shiva said. She has fought legal battles against patenting of seeds like neem and basmati and has won.
To offset the impact of Monsanto, Shiva launched the Navdanya Conservation Farm in Vidarbha in Maharashtra which has become infamous for the high rate of suicide by farmers. Explaining the meaning of Navdanya she said it is ‘nine seeds’ or in another sense a ‘new gift.’ Today there are five Navdanya outlets in India with 120 seed banks and more than 700,000 farmers in the network. The Navdanya movement stands for Earth democracy as it has protected all life including the forgotten foods which Shiva calls the ‘food of the future.’ These farmers do not use GMO seeds neither do they use chemical fertilizers, pesticides or weedicides. Using non-violent methods of farming and biodiversity, studies have found that they produce more food and more nutritious food than farms which use monoculture. Laying out her goals for the future she said she was committed to putting an end to suicides by farmers by providing them with much needed seed. Her vision is to move India towards an organic transition by 2020. She is currently working with five states to go organic. With support from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, farmers in the North East region in states like Assam and Manipur are being trained in organic farming. Bhutan has asked Navdanya to help them become 100 percent organic. Following her address the audience was given a chance for interaction in a lively Q& A session which had to be cut short as time was running out. Shiva was honored by the organizers who presented her with a shawl. Dr Jayesh Shah appealed to the audience to donate generously for the groundbreaking work of Navdanya. Avadesh Agarwal made a pledge for $10,000. Nisha Parekh who is pitching for a GMO free L.A. said a motion has been introduced in the L.A. City Council and if it passes, GMO will not be allowed to grow or be sold in Los Angeles. Kanthibhai thanked donors, sponsors , volunteers and attendees for coming out in large numbers to support a great cause. The afternoon started with a sumptuous Jain lunch served to all attendees.