Vandana Shiva: Seed Freedom and the Future of Farming

Source: Roar Magazine

In an era of climate change, rejuvenating and regenerating the soil through ecological processes has become a survival imperative for the human species.

Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned Indian scholar, environmental activist and author of over twenty books. She has been involved in grassroots movements against genetic engineering across the world, and has successfully led multiple campaigns against various multinationals and international institutions seeking to monopolize and privatize indigenous seeds, traditional knowledge and natural resources.

ROAR editor Joris Leverink spoke with Vandana Shiva about the role of industrial agriculture in climate change, the challenges faced by farmers in the Global South and how to avoid the imminent environmental disaster threatening our existence on this planet.

ROAR: For many years you have actively resisted, both in your writing and in your activism, the global transformation of agriculture from an agro-ecological paradigm to an industrial paradigm. In your latest book, Who Really Feeds the World? (Zed Books, 2016), you also point out that the industrial paradigm of agriculture is causing climate change.” How should we conceptualize the difference between the two paradigms, and what is the role of the latter in driving climate change?

Vandana Shiva: There are two distinct agricultural paradigms. The first is industrial agriculture, which has been designed and developed by the “poison cartel” of chemical companies and factories that emerged during World War II and that was in control of the production of chemicals used in explosives, as well as the mass-extermination of human beings. After the war, they repurposed these very same chemicals as agrochemicals — pesticides and fertilizers — and they convinced us that we can’t have food without these poisons. The second paradigm is the agro-ecological system that evolved over 10,000 years and works together with nature according to ecological principles.

There are two alternative futures of food and farming at the conclusion of each paradigm. One leads to a dead end: a lifeless, poisoned planet as a result of chemical monocultures with farmers committing suicide to escape their debt-induced misery, children dying due to lack of food and people suffering of chronic diseases spreading through nutritionally empty, toxic commodities sold as food while climate havoc wipes out human life on earth. The second paradigm leads to the rejuvenation of the planet through a restoration of biodiversity, soil, water and small farms that produce diverse, healthy, fresh, ecological food for all.

Continue reading