When it comes to fighting social and economic injustices, one name always mentioned is Vandana Shiva from India. She’s taken on Coca-Cola when they tried to privatize part of the Ganges River in India along with Monsanto in their global monopoly of seeds. Dr. Shiva is a strong advocate against corporate overreach which has come about during the recent period of globalization. She takes a special interest in basic elements for life such as water, food, and more specifically, seeds.
Dr. Vandana Shiva has fought for changes in the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food, intellectual property rights, biodiversity, biotechnology, bioethics and genetic engineering. She has assisted grassroots organizations of the Green movement in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland, and Austria with campaigns against genetic engineering.
She founded India’s Navdanya movement to promote the use of native seeds, and she has become a formidable figure in all these battles. Trained in nuclear physics and quantum theory, she’s an activist and prolific author whose books include “Earth Democracy,” “Soil Not Oil,” “Water Wars,” and her latest, “Making Peace With The Earth.” She was inspired by Albert Einstein to enter the field of quantum theory.
She was interviewed recently on the Bill Moyers program. Her thesis written on “non-separability and non-locality” in quantum theory is the impetus for her new book, Making Peace with the Earth. The results of her studies conclude that everything is connected, and her comparison to how our hard patriarchal view of our environment has created such a global disconnect, is fascinating.
In Making Peace with the Earth, Shiva argues that consumerism lubricates the war against the earth and that corporate control violates all ethical and ecological limits. She takes the reader on a journey through the world’s devastated eco-landscape, one of genetic engineering, industrial development, agribusiness and land-grabs in Africa, Asia and South America. She concludes that exploitation of this order is incurring an ecological and economic debt that is utterly unsustainable.
She tells Bill, “It is not an accident that with the rise of corporate and economic globalization, we have seen the rise of religious conflict, ethnic conflicts, where people get divided, more and more and more.”
Despite the growth in food organizations who are pushing back the corporate overreach in the U.S. and abroad, we must know that these large corporations engulf our public sector. According to Shiva, on a global scale, “So from the seed to the table, corporations are saying, “We want to be the only players.” Five in seed, five in grain trade, five in processing, and five in retail. That is a corporate hijack of our food and a corporate dictatorship over our food system.”
How are the corporations like Monsanto, Cargill and WalMart getting away with these acts?
According to Shiva, “The Department of Agriculture and the FDA all have a revolving door with Monsanto. And this is all on record. So on the top, there’s Monsanto, hijacking all our governments. And through that, trying to hijack our food supply. And from the ground, farmers, consumers, regional governments saying, “We want a Monsanto-free food system. We want Monsanto-free, G.M.O.-free, patent-free seed.”
In fact, she mentioned that when India was having disagreements with Monsanto and their monopoly on GM seeds, Washington sent a U.S. Representative to intervene on behalf of Monsanto.
So, we guess when lawmakers in Washington discuss democracy in their speeches, they have one version for voters/citizens, another version for corporate executives who fund their campaigns, and even another version when the lawmaker uses their influence to further a corporate agenda.
How does this lack of democracy impact our food system?
According to Shiva, “Food is a place which is so loaded with dishonesty and is what keeps a false economy of food alive. The taxpayer subsidies that go to industrial agriculture.” She goes on to say, “A high-cost system, which uses a lot of wealth of society, then uses our wealth to cheat on the prices and make costly food look cheap. So our choices are distorted. We go and eat the junk food that then creates the high cost of disease, the high cost of obesity, the high cost of diabetes at an early stage, the high cost of environmental devastation.”
As we’ve demonstrated, if we expect our government officials to take a stand against those who provide political capital to their campaigns, we are fooling ourselves.
“And so we need an honest system. And we can begin by creating that honesty and that peace by relating more directly to the food we eat, to the people who grow our food. To me, the beauty is, every time I come back to this country, there are more farmer’s markets. There is more commitment to local food supply. Even in the city of New York, people are saying, “We’ll make local food. We’ll grow local food.” It is an easy step, but it is a very far-reaching step.”
The steps we can initiate personally is taking back our power of choice – democracy. Becoming an informed consumer has never been more important and our steps in removing a corrupted corporate owned government can begin with how we choose to purchase our food and how we treat the earth. We can also choose not to be complicit in the destruction of our environment when we see others doing so.
Dr. Vandana Shiva is a Rockstar!