A scientist and activist from India is the patron of the World Ethics Forum in Pontresina. As a pioneer in organic farming, she challenges the agricultural industry.
“We must not leave power to the people who are destroying our planet,” says Vandana Shiva. He locates the people he denounces on the top floors of agrochemical companies, but also in governments, banks, and organizations that have done vile deals with the “poison cartel.” By the “poison cartel”, an Indian activist means companies in the seed and pesticide industries. For decades he has had an intimate hostility towards the former American company Monsanto, now Bayer-Monsanto.
Vandana Shiva has already launched numerous political campaigns and legal proceedings against Monsanto & Co. and has always won important victories. In her native India, for example, she found that seeds should not be patented, which was a failure for Monsanto. He tirelessly fights against the use of genetic engineering through agrochemicals and biopiracy, as well as the use of pesticides and fertilizers, and the destruction of farmers’ livelihoods. Their fight is directed against the pillaging and destruction of our planet, but also against the exploitation of people.
Biodiversity is the basis of life
Since the 1980s, it has campaigned for an alternative to chemically intensified agriculture, which it blames for hunger, the climate crisis, environmental damage and health problems. Their ideal is ecological and sustainable land use, which is in the hands of farmers. The emphasis is on preserving nature and its biodiversity. After all, biodiversity is the basis of life, he emphasizes many times. Biodiversity is a prerequisite for food security.
“We have the power to work with nature, not against nature,” he says in a video interview with our newspaper about the first World Ethics Forum in Pontresina this weekend. He is the patron of the event and the opening speaker there. “Ethics must determine how we think and act.” And further: “We need an economic model based on the boundaries of the earth and on justice and the common good.” The activist, who will soon turn 70, is bursting with energy. When she talks about her concerns, she does so with passion, a friendly tone and determination.
Vandana Shiva has long been considered one of the world’s most important activists for biodiversity and organic farming. She has worked for UN agencies, governments, expert bodies and NGOs around the world. In 1993, she received the Right Livelihood Award, better known as the Alternative Nobel Prize. She is considered a leading figure in the anti-globalization movement and is also referred to as the “voice of the third world”. Since 2005, he has been a member of the “World Council of the Future”, which is looking for solutions so that in the future people can live on a healthy and peaceful planet.
In her native India, the activist founded an interdisciplinary institute of science, technology and ecology and the environmental organization Navdanya (“Nine Seeds”) in the 1980s. Thanks to Navdanya, more than 150 municipal seed banks were established across the country. In this way, it was possible to secure a variety of seeds for local farmers and save them from the agricultural industry. “The seeds belong to mankind,” says Shiva, “it is the right to eat, to share, but also to democracy and peace.” Democracy in the world begins with food democracy: this is one of their visions. In their ideal world, man does not rule nature, and man does not rule woman. As an eco-feminist, Vandana Shiva wants to go beyond patriarchal capitalism.
Vandana Shiva is based on peaceful resistance. He heads towards Mahatma Gandhi.
Before becoming an activist for small farmers, ecology and organic farming, Vandana Shiva began her research career and obtained a PhD in quantum physics. Two dramatic events in 1984 changed her life. “At that time in the Punjab, a region of India where the destructive so-called Green Revolution was first introduced, peasant uprisings broke out and great violence broke out,” he says. Industrial fertilizers, pesticides and new seeds were imported, “which promised higher yields, but also led farmers to a dependency relationship, caused environmental damage and thus harmed the population.”
In the same year, a fatal fire at a US pesticide plant in Bhopal released several tons of toxic substances, causing thousands of deaths. “I wanted to understand why farming had become so brutal,” says Vandana Shiva. “So I decided to spend the rest of my life figuring out how to till the land without violence.”
On the path to sustainable agriculture, Vandana Shiva relies on political commitment and a peaceful opposition to the “poison cartel” in the agricultural industry. He heads towards Mahatma Gandhi. Praises young people involved in the “Fridays for the Future” movement. Fighting untruth is also part of civil disobedience. He means “lies such as that agrochemicals can feed the world or that pesticides, or agricultural toxins, are necessary and safe.”
Vandana Shiva has many supporters but also many critics. Your theses are not without controversy. Criticism comes not only from the agricultural industry, but also from some science. He quickly opposes his ideas and suggestions. For example, it points to data from the FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, according to which organic farming could be fed to the entire world’s population. Or he cites from his own research reaching the same conclusion. As with all controversial topics, it is impossible to definitively clarify which research is the most accurate.
Her latest book, Who Really Feeds the World? is an agreement with the agricultural industry. For example, he says: “Living soil and biodiversity feed the world, not chemical fertilizers and toxic monocultures.” Or: “The little farmers feed the world, not the big industrial companies.” Or: “Location feeds the world, not globalization.” Conclusion: “Agroecology feeds the world.”
India pioneered organic farming
According to Vandan Shiva, agroecology is gaining more and more supporters around the world. India is playing a pioneering role in which an outstanding activist has played a significant part as she has been involved as an expert in national and regional legislation. In the state of Sikkim in Northeast India, only organic farming has been practiced since 2016, and it seems to be working. Pesticides, fertilizers and genetic engineering are prohibited by law in Sikkim, farmers use herbal insect repellants, organic fertilizers and compost. 8 of India’s 28 states and millions of farmers are testing the transition to organic farming. This is also the goal of the Indian government, as Vandana Shiva notes with satisfaction.
Can this model of agriculture be easily transferred to European conditions? “It can go anywhere,” believes Vandana Shiva. “We have the power to be creative and try new things. All paradigm shifts start small before turning into a big wave.
Vincenzo Capodici is an editor in the international section. He has been working for Tamedia since 2007 with a focus on web journalism including a news editor, reporter and producer of 12 apps. He is a member of the nationwide Tamedia network “New Forms & Storytelling”.More information@V_Capodici
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