I was visiting Bhatinda in Punjab because of an epidemic of
Punjab used to be the most prosperous agricultural region
in India. Today every
farmer is in debt and despair. Vast stretches of land
have become water-logged
desert. And as an old farmer pointed out, even the
trees have stopped bearing
fruit because heavy use of pesticides have killed
the pollinators - the bees
Punjab is not alone in experiencing this ecological and social disaster.
year I was in Warangal, Andhra Pradesh where farmers have also been
suicide. Farmers who traditionally grew pulses and millets and
paddy have been
lured by seed companies to buy hybrid cotton seeds referred
to by the seed
merchants as "white gold", which were supposed to make them
Instead they became paupers.
native seeds have been displaced with new hybrids which cannot be
need to be purchased every year at high cost. Hybrids are also
to pest attacks. Spending on pesticides in Warangal has shot
up 2000 per cent
from $2.5 million in the 1980s to $50 million in 1997. Now
farmers are consuming
the same pesticides as a way of killing themselves so
that they can escape
permanently from unpayable debt.
corporations are now trying to introduce genetically engineered seed
will further increase costs and ecological risks. That is why farmers
Malla Reddy of the Andhra Pradesh Farmers' Union had uprooted
engineered Bollgard cotton in Warangal.
March 27th, 25 year old Betavati Ratan took his life because he could not
pack debts for drilling a deep tube well on his two-acre farm. The wells
now dry, as are the wells in Gujarat and Rajasthan where more than 50
people face a water famine.
drought is not a "natural disaster". It is "man-made". It
is the result
of mining of scarce ground water in arid regions to grow thirsty
for exports instead of water prudent food crops for local needs.
is experiences such as these which tell me that we are so wrong to be
about the new global economy. I will argue in this lecture that it is
to stop and think about the impact of globalisation on the lives of
people. This is vital to achieve sustainability.
and the World Trade Organisation protests last year have forced
think again. Throughout this lecture series people have referred
aspects of sustainable development taking globalisation for
granted. For me
it is now time radically to re-evaluate what we are doing.
For what we are
doing in the name of globalisation to the poor is brutal and
This is specially evident in India as we witness the unfolding
globalisation, especially in food and agriculture.
feeds the world? My answer is very different to that given by most
It is women
and small farmers working with biodiversity who are the primary
in the Third World, and contrary to the dominant assumption,
based small farms are more productive than industrial
rich diversity and sustainable systems of food production are being
in the name of increasing food production. However, with the
diversity, rich sources of nutrition disappear. When measured
in terms of nutrition
per acre, and from the perspective biodiversity, the
so called "high yields"
of industrial agriculture or industrial fisheries do
not imply more production
of food and nutrition.
usually refers to production per unit area of a single crop. Output
to the total production of diverse crops and products. Planting only
in the entire field as a monoculture will of course increase its
yield. Planting multiple crops in a mixture will have low yields
crops, but will have high total output of food. Yields have
been defined in
such a way as to make the food production on small farms by
small farmers disappear.
This hides the production by millions of women
farmers in the Third World -
farmers like those in my native Himalaya who
fought against logging in the
Chipko movement, who in their terraced fields
even today grow Jhangora (barnyard
millet), Marsha (Amaranth), Tur (Pigeon
Pea), Urad (Black gram), Gahat (horse
gram), Soya Bean (Glycine Max), Bhat
(Glycine Soya) - endless diversity in
their fields. From the biodiversity
perspective, biodiversity based productivity
is higher than monoculture
productivity. I call this blindness to the high
productivity of diversity a
"Monoculture of the Mind", which creates
monocultures in our fields and in
Mayan peasants in the Chiapas are characterised as unproductive because
produce only 2 tons of corn per acre. However, the overall food output
tons per acre when the diversity of their beans and squashes, their
their fruit trees are taken into account.
Java, small farmers cultivate 607 species in their home gardens. In
Africa, women cultivate 120 different plants. A single home
garden in Thailand
has 230 species, and African home gardens have more than
60 species of trees.
families in the Congo eat leaves from more than 50 species of their
A study in
eastern Nigeria found that home gardens occupying only 2 per cent
of a household's
farmland accounted for half of the farm's total output. In
Indonesia 20 per
cent of household income and 40 per cent of domestic food
supplies come from
the home gardens managed by women.
done by FAO has shown that small biodiverse farms can produce
times more food than large, industrial monocultures.
And diversity in addition
to giving more food is the best strategy for
preventing drought and desertification.
the world needs to feed a growing population sustainably is
not the chemical intensification or the
intensification of genetic engineering.
While women and small peasants feed
the world through biodiversity we are repeatedly
told that without genetic
engineering and globalisation of agriculture the
world will starve. In spite
of all empirical evidence showing that genetic
engineering does not produce
more food and in fact often leads to a yield decline,
it is constantly
promoted as the only alternative available for feeding the
is why I ask, who feeds the world?
deliberate blindness to diversity, the blindness to nature's
by women, production by Third World farmers allows
destruction and appropriation
to be projected as creation.
the case of the much flouted "golden rice" or genetically engineered
A rice as a cure for blindness. It is assumed that without genetic
we cannot remove Vitamin A deficiency. However, nature gives us
diverse sources of vitamin A. If rice was not polished, rice
itself would provide
Vitamin A. If herbicides were not sprayed on our wheat
fields, we would have
bathua, amaranth, mustard leaves as delicious and
nutritious greens that provide
in Bengal use more than 150 plants as greens - Hinche sak (Enhydra
Palang sak (Spinacea oleracea), Tak palang (Rumex vesicarious),
Lal Sak (Amaranthus
gangeticus) - to name but a few.
the myth of creation presents biotechnologists as the creators of
negating nature's diverse gifts and women's knowledge of how to
use this diversity
to feed their children and families.
most efficient means of rendering the destruction of nature, local
and small autonomous producers is by rendering their production
Women who produce
for their families and communities are treated as
`non-productive' and `economically'
inactive. The devaluation of women's
work, and of work done in sustainable
economies, is the natural outcome of a
system constructed by capitalist patriarchy.
This is how globalisation
destroys local economies and destruction itself is
counted as growth.
And women themselves are devalued. Because many women in
the rural and
indigenous communities work co-operatively with nature's processes,
work is often contradictory to the dominant market driven `development'
trade policies. And because work that satisfies needs and ensures sustenance
devalued in general, there is less nurturing of life and life support
and invisibility of sustainable, regenerative production is
most glaring in
the area of food. While patriarchal division of labour has
assigned women the
role of feeding their families and communities,
patriarchal economics and patriarchal
views of science and technology
magically make women's work in providing food
disappear. "Feeding the World"
becomes disassociated from the women
who actually do it and is projected as
dependent on global agribusiness and
industrialisation and genetic engineering of food and globalisation
in agriculture are recipes for creating hunger, not for feeding the
food production is becoming a negative economy, with farmers
to buy costly inputs for industrial production than the price
for their produce. The consequence is rising debts and
epidemics of suicides
in both poor and rich countries.
globalisation is leading to a concentration of the seed industry,
use of pesticides, and, finally, increased debt.
corporate controlled agriculture is being spread into
regions where peasants
are poor but, until now, have been self-sufficient in
food. In the regions
where industrial agriculture has been introduced
through globalisation, higher
costs are making it virtually impossible for
small farmers to survive.
globalisation of non-sustainable industrial agriculture is literally
the incomes of Third World farmers through a combination of
currencies, increase in costs of production and a collapse in
are being paid a fraction of what they received for the
same commodity a decade
ago. The Canadian National Farmers Union put it like
this in a report to the
senate this year:
the farmers growing cereal grains - wheat, oats, corn - earn negative
and are pushed close to bankruptcy, the companies that make
reap huge profits. In 1998, cereal companies Kellogg's,
Quaker Oats, and General
Mills enjoyed return on equity rates of 56%, 165%
and 222% respectively. While
a bushel of corn sold for less than $4, a
bushel of corn flakes sold for $133
... Maybe farmers are making too little
because others are taking too much."
a World Bank report has admitted that "behind the polarisation of
consumer prices and world prices is the presence of large trading
in international commodity markets."
farmers earn less, consumers pay more. In India, food prices have
1999 and 2000. The consumption of food grains in rural areas
has dropped by
12%. Increased economic growth through global commerce is
based on pseudo surpluses.
More food is being traded while the poor are
consuming less. When growth increases
poverty, when real production becomes
a negative economy, and speculators are
defined as "wealth creators",
something has gone wrong with the concepts
and categories of wealth and
wealth creation. Pushing the real production by
nature and people into a
negative economy implies that production of real goods
and services is
declining, creating deeper poverty for the millions who are
not part of the
dot.com route to instant wealth creation.
- as I have said - are the primary food producers and food processors
world. However, their work in production and processing is now
the McKinsey corporation said: "American food giants recognise
agro-business has lots of room to grow, especially in food
processes a minuscule 1 per cent of the food it grows
compared with 70 per
cent for the U.S...".
is not that we Indians eat our food raw. Global consultants fail to see
99 per cent food processing done by women at household level, or by the
cottage industry because it is not controlled by global agribusiness.
India's agroprocessing has been intentionally kept at the small
, under the pressure of globalisation, things are changing.
laws are being uses to shut down local economies and small
In August 1998,
small scale local processing of edible oil was banned in
India through a "packaging
order" which made sale of open oil illegal and
required all oil to be
packaged in plastic or aluminium. This shut down tiny
cold pressed mills. It destroyed the market for our diverse
oilseeds - mustard,
linseed, sesame, groundnut, coconut.
the take-over of the edible oil industry has affected 10 million
The take over of flour or "atta" by packaged branded flour will
100 million livelihoods. And these millions are being pushed into new
use of packaging will increase the environmental burden of
millions of tonnes
globalisation of the food system is destroying the diversity of local
cultures and local food economies. A global monoculture is being forced
people by defining everything that is fresh, local and handmade as a
hazard. Human hands are being defined as the worst contaminants, and
human hands is being outlawed, to be replaced by machines and
from global corporations. These are not recipes for feeding
the world, but
stealing livelihoods from the poor to create markets for the
are being perceived as parasites, to be exterminated for the "health"
the global economy.
the process new health and ecological hazards are being forced on Third
people through dumping of genetically engineered foods and other
because of a W.T.O. ruling, India has been forced to remove
the unrestricted imports are carcasses and animal waste parts that
threat to our culture and introduce public health hazards such as
the Mad Cow
US Centre for Disease Prevention in Atlanta has calculated that nearly
cases of food borne illnesses occur in the US every year. Deaths
poisoning have gone up more up more than four times due to
of these infections are caused by factory farmed meat.
The US slaughters 93
million pigs, thirty seven million cattle, two million
calves, six million
horses, goats and sheep and eight billion chickens and
turkeys each year.
the giant meat industry of US wants to dump contaminated meat produced
violent and cruel methods on Indian consumers.
waste of the rich is being dumped on the poor. The wealth of the poor is
violently appropriated through new and clever means like patents on
and indigenous knowledge.
and intellectual property rights are supposed to be granted for
But patents are being claimed for rice varieties such as
the basmati for which
my Valley - where I was born - is famous, or
pesticides derived from the Neem
which our mothers and grandmothers have
Tec, a U.S. based company has been granted Patent no. 5,663,484 for
rice lines and grains.
neem, pepper, bitter gourd, turmeric.......every aspect of the
in our indigenous food and medicinal systems is now
being pirated and patented.
The knowledge of the poor is being converted
into the property of global corporations,
creating a situation where the
poor will have to pay for the seeds and medicines
they have evolved and have
used to meet their own needs for nutrition and health
claims to creation are now the global norm, with the Trade
Property Rights Agreement of World Trade Organisation
forcing countries to
introduce regimes that allow patenting of life forms
and indigenous knowledge.
of recognising that commercial interests build on nature and on the
of other cultures, global law has enshrined the patriarchal
myth of creation
to create new property rights to life forms just as
colonialism used the myth
of discovery as the basis of the take over of the
land of others as colonies.
do not create life when they manipulate it. Rice Tec's claim that it
"an instant invention of a novel rice line", or Roslin Institute's
that Ian Wilmut "created" Dolly denies the creativity of nature, the
capacity of life forms, and the prior innovations of
Third World communities.
and intellectual property rights are supposed to prevent piracy.
are becoming the instruments of pirating the common traditional
the poor of the Third World and making it the exclusive
of western scientists and corporations.
patents are granted for seeds and plants, as in the case of basmati,
is defined as creation, and saving and sharing seed is defined as
intellectual property. Corporations which have broad patents on
as cotton, soya bean, mustard are suing farmers for seed saving
detective agencies to find out if farmers have saved seed or
shared it with
recent announcement that Monsanto is giving away the rice genome for
misleading, because Monsanto has never made a commitment that it
patent rice varieties or any other crop varieties.
and exchange, the basis of our humanity and of our ecological
been redefined as a crime. This makes us all poor.
has given us abundance, women's indigenous knowledge of biodiversity,
and nutrition has built on that abundance to create more from
less, to create
growth through sharing.
poor are pushed into deeper poverty by making them pay for what was
Even the rich are poorer because their profits are based on the
theft and on
the use of coercion and violence. This is not wealth creation
requires the protection of all species and all people and the
diverse species and diverse people play an essential role
in maintaining ecological
processes. Pollinators are critical to fertilisation
and generation of plants.
Biodiversity in fields providesvegetables, fodder, medicine and protection to
the soil from water and wind erosion.
humans travel further down the road to non-sustainability, they become
of other species and blind to their vital role in our survival.
In 1992, when
Indian farmers destroyed Cargill's seed plant in Bellary,
Karnataka, to protest
against seed failure, the Cargill Chief Executive
stated, "We bring Indian
farmers smart technologies which prevent bees from
usurping the pollen".
When I was participating in the United Nations
Biosafety Negotiations, Monsanto
circulated literature to defend its
herbicide resistant Roundup ready crops
on grounds that they prevent "weeds
from stealing the sunshine".
But what Monsanto calls weeds are the green
fields that provide Vitamin A rice
and prevent blindness in children and
anaemia in women.
worldview that defines pollination as "theft by bees" and claims
"steals" sunshine is a worldview which itself aims at stealing
harvest by replacing open, pollinated varieties with hybrids and
and destroying biodiverse flora with herbicides such as
Roundup. The threat
posed to the Monarch butterfly by genetically engineered
bt crops is just one
example of the ecological poverty created by the new
biotechnologies. As butterflies
and bees disappear, production is
undermined. As biodiversity disappears, with
it go sources of nutrition and
giant corporations view small peasants and bees as thieves, and through
rules and new technologies seek the right to exterminate them,
reached a dangerous threshold. The imperative to stamp out the
the smallest plant, the smallest peasant comes from a deep
fear - the fear
of everything that is alive and free. And this deep
insecurity and fear is
unleashing the violence against all people and all
global free trade economy has become a threat to sustainability and the
survival of the poor and other species is at stake not just as a side
or as an exception but in a systemic way through a restructuring of
at the most fundamental level. Sustainability, sharing and
survival is being
economically outlawed in the name of market
competitiveness and market efficiency.
want to argue here tonight that we need to urgently bring the planet and
back into the picture.
world can be fed only by feeding all beings that make the world.
food to other beings and species we maintain conditions for our
own food security.
In feeding earthworms we feed ourselves. In feeding cows,
we feed the soil,
and in providing food for the soil, we provide food for
humans. This worldview
of abundance is based on sharing and on a deep
awareness of humans as members
of the earth family. This awareness that in
impoverishing other beings, we
impoverish ourselves and in nourishing other
beings, we nourish ourselves is
the real basis of sustainability.
sustainability challenge for the new millennium is whether global
man can move out of the worldview based on fear and scarcity,
and monopolies, appropriation and dispossession and shift to a
view based on
abundance and sharing, diversity and decentralisation, and
respect and dignity
for all beings.
demands that we move out of the economic trap that is leaving
no space for
other species and other people. Economic Globalisation has
become a war against
nature and the poor. But the rules of globalisation are
not god - given. They
can be changed. They must be changed. We must bring
this war to an end.
Seattle, a frequently used phrase has been the need for a rule based
Globalisation is the rule of commerce and it has elevated Wall
Street to be
the only source of value. As a result things that should have
high worth -
nature, culture, the future are being devalued and destroyed.
The rules of
globalisation are undermining the rules of justice and
sustainability, of compassion
and sharing. We have to move from market
totalitarianism to an earth democracy.
can survive as a species only if we live by the rules of the biosphere.
biosphere has enough for everyone's needs if the global economy respects
limits set by sustainability and justice.
Gandhi had reminded us: "The earth has enough for everyone's needs, but
for some people's greed".
FROM THE FLOOR
Sujata Gupta, the Tata Energy Research Institute: I'd like to
views on sustainable use of scarce inputs like water for agriculture.
gathered from your lecture was total condemnation of the market system.
Shiva: Let me first respond by saying - I love markets. I love my
where local "subgees" are sold, and one can chat with the
The tragedy really is that the market is being turned into the only
principle for life, and Wall St is being turned into the only
source of value,
and it's the disappearance of other markets, other values
that I am condemning.
In terms of water, the solution to water conservation
and scarce water management
is not putting it in the hands of those who can
afford to buy the last drop,
but to put it in the hands of the community, to
use it sustainably within the
limits of renewal. The water must be returned
to the communities and managed
as a commons - it has to be taken beyond the
Marva, University of Delhi: Can there be sustainable development
Shiva: I think non-sustainable population growth is a symptom and
non-sustainable development. It's not that population grows by
itself as a
separate phenomena - you look at the data - Indian population
till 1800 - colonisation, dispossession of land started to
make our population
grow. Highest growth rates of population in England is
after the enclosures
of the commons. It's the loss of resources of the
people that generate livelihood
and the replacement of resources by labour
to be sold on markets in an uncertain
daily wage market that triggers
population growth. Population growth is a result
Singh Hooda, member Legislative Assembly from Haryama: I belong
to a farmer
family and myself am a farmer. Farmers were exploited even when
there was no
globalisation. And I totally agree with you globalisation is
going to lead
(to) neocolonisation, but we can't be out of globalisation.
WTO is a ground
reality - no country can get out of it like you have
Shiva: WTO rules are written on pieces of paper - as I mentioned in
they're not God given. And therefore they are not ground reality
in the way
the soil and the Ganges are ground realities that can't be
changed. These are
rules that need to be changed - that was the message of
Seattle and the way
to change them is to bring consideration of people's
use of resources at the heart of every step of
trade decisions, and to ensure
that trade rules reflect sustainability and
the right of people to have security.
Singh Hooda: In India farmers are getting negative subsidy -
there's no subsidy
for farmers, so how can unequal competitors go for
Shiva: That's precisely the issue - that we were told we'd have a
field - we were told when the WTO rules come into place we
would have a fair
market for Indian farmers - that was the single most
important reason why India
justified signing on to the GATT treaty after the
Uruguay round. It turns out
we have a very unlevel playing field - the
northern countries or OECD countries
are giving 343 billion dollars of
subsidies and these subsidies have actually
doubled since the completion of
the Uruguay round - meantime India's giving
a negative subsidy of 25
billion. Now one could keep arguing about how the
north is giving very high
subsidies - I think the argument needs to shift to
how can we ensure that
small farmers in every country and the soil and water
and biodiversity in
every country be protected and how can we ensure that trade
rules as they
are written by totally fallible trade ministers and trade secretaries
be rewritten to ensure that this unequal playing field does not destroy
Earth and her producers.
Sandhya Tiwari, Confederation of Indian Industry: Dr. Shiva is it really
job of the farmer to preserve germ plasm and biodiversity, to grow
are less productive? Shouldn't this job be left to the
Shiva: Well - I'm talking about leaving it to the specialist, which
women farmers. So far if we have biodiversity available to us it is
biodiversity experts who happen to be women by gender, happen to be
farms in poorer parts of the world, have continued to conserve
because it is more productive for them from their perspective.
It might not
be productive for a single monopoly trading house that wants to
farmer grow corn in a region or every farmer grow cornola in a
it is highly productive and very efficient use of land, water -
to feed the
family, to have a little surplus to sell on the local market, to
child to school and it is in fact that community which will save
for us. We cannot trust them in anyone else's hands.
Gulgit Choudhury, Ram
Organics: I have worked earlier with Monsanto. I have
a simple question to
ask you. Suppose you were given the opportunity to
develop parameters of a
social governance which ensures sustainability -
what would you suggest for
countries like India.?
Shiva: We are in fact involved for the last few years - generating
of criteria through participatory democracy building - through
people at every level have the information, through ensuring
are organised, to manage collectively the resources that
can only be sustained
collectively. If I have the money and power to drill a
deep tube well I can
make dry my neighbour's shallow well and she will
usually be a very poor woman.
And therefore the only way a village can
conserve its ground water is to do
what the "Paani Panchayath" did in Harash
- ensure that water is
used within limits. Systems of governance have to
begin with where people feel
the impact, and therefore we do require the
rebuilding of decentralised direct
democracy. I do not see growers as
isolated individuals because the consequences
of their action are felt by
their neighbours. If I am growing b.t. corn on
my field I kill the monarch
butterfly of my neighbour's field. Communities,
collectives are cohesiveness
of societies are important to talk about not individual
growers, and that is
the bottom rung of decision making to which both which
corporations as well
as governments need to be accountable - that is the experiment
after Seattle and that experiment in accountable localisation
to ensure that
decisions are made at appropriate place and production is carried
out at the
appropriate level is really the new enterprise of democracy that
are involved in around the world, even while globalisation threatens
Kate Adie: Thank you - we'll have some time for more questions from
here at the Nehru Memorial Library in Delhi in just a moment.
First I'd like
to read some of the e-mails sent to the BBC's Reith 2000
website. From Bangladesh
Alimgihia Haque says he finds himself in sympathy
with both Vandana Shiva and
the Prince of Wales on the issue of GM foods.
Thank God he says that the people
of Britain made their voices heard and the
Prime Minister, Tony Blair had to
from Malaysia who signs himself Yong is critical of his own
He says they condemn globalisation on the one hand and on
the other give approval
for dams and other environmentally destructive
Whitehouse, who sent his e-mail from Nepal questions whether more
fridges, more water greedy flush toilets will make people in
any happier? Every society he says should decide its
own vision of development.
Phibbs from Britain says eating meat has got a lot to answer for. 70% of
grown is used to feed animals which are then killed to feed us.
Use the land
grow food directly for people and we can easily feed everyone.
is easy - completely cruelty free and sustainable. What more do
we had this from last year's Reith lecturer Anthony Giddens -
Vandana he says - "I congratulate you on your challenging
I have to say though I don't agree with much of it. Isn't it a
in terms to use the global media to put a case against
I don't think BBC is a product of the economic globalisation
regime that the
World Trade Organisation gave us or the new recent trade
given us. I think it was created in l922 and international
communication is not what economic globalisation is about. Corporate concentration,
corporate control is what recent economic globalisation is about and in fact the
BBC is a counter-example to that because the real example of globalised media
andcommunication is Time Warner, now bought up by American on Line, Disney, and
the News Corporation.
Vinod Chowdhury, reader in economics at St. Stephen's College: It
as very extraordinary that Vandanaji should have such a one sided
And I'm saying that with due respect to the sheer vivacity of her
Vandanaji seems to believe that there are two clearly
One is a paradigm that essentially is based on
- all the good things in life - - women
are cared for, poor people are cared
for - this, that and the other. And
other is terribly evil. Everything's wrong
with it. Now surely life cannot
be like that Vandanaji may I plead with you
to please consider third
paradigm, where we take bits and pieces from here
and there and get an
eclectic, practical approach, and I support Boopinder
Singh Hooda - the
President of the Haryama Congress who asked you - and you
didn't answer that
- what is the alternative at a time when no country can
opt out of the WTO -
it's not a piece of paper madam - it is a commitment that
countries have to
make or they will be paraiah countries and we cannot afford
to be a paraiah
country - please react?
Shiva: I did react to him. And I said rewriting those rules -
rules that are one sided. In fact it's the WTO rules that
are totally one sided
because they really only protect the interest of one
sector of the global community
which is the global corporations, not in the
local industry, not even local
retail business, not small farmers anywhere,
not in the north and not in the
south. And those rules can be rewritten.
That is the point I'm trying to make.
Do not treat WTO rules in the Uruguay
Round Treaty as the final word on how
trade should be carried out. Those
rules are being reviewed. What we have called
for in Seattle is a more
democratic input in what sustainable and just rules
would look like for
agriculture on intellectual property rights, in the area
of services, in the
area of investments, the four new areas which were brought
in. Before that -
no-one had problems with the GATT. The old GATT was about
real trade in real
products beyond national boundaries. The new GATT with the
Uruguay round -
is about invading in every space of our everyday lives ...
and if you are a
woman you do have a somewhat different point of view. That's
why we talk of
gender. If you are poor, you will have a different point of
view from the
rich. To have different points of view because of differences
in location in
society is not a problem. It is opportunistic though to take
a little element of the perspective of the rich , a little element of the perspective
of the poor and put it into a little jigsaw of opportunistic statements.
live by coherent principles, organisational systems, values and
And what we are calling for is to balance out that one sided
idea that we live
by commerce alone.
Raki, student: You seem to eulogise the fairness and efficiency of
agricultures, societies and production patterns. But the reality
is that the
farmers were exploited in these societies by moneylenders and
With the market reaching these societies that exploitative
social system certainly
declines. Now what I have to ask you is what
restrains you from appreciating
this sanitising effect of the market?
Shiva: Well the sanitising affect of the market does end up treating
like germs. Wipe them out. And it is that view of dispensability, the
of the small that I was trying to draw attention to in my
lecture. There has
always been exploitation, and I agree with Mr Hooda, but
no exploitation before
this period of current, economic globalisation, ever
organised itself in ways
that it could totally dispense with the exploited.
Even the slave system needed
the slave. Even the worst of British rule which
created the Bengal famine,
and led to the "Faybehaga" movement to rise
against the exploitation,
it needed to keep the peasants alive For the first
time we have a system where
no-one needs the peasants, unless we realise as
societies we need them, that
we've reached a period where people are
actually talking in India, in other
countries that you can get rid of small
producers. It's assumed that everything,
real growth, real prosperity is
going to come out of cyber space, but as you
can see, you can have the best
of IT technologies floating above the carcasses
of people dying in Rajisthan
and Gujerat right now -- and it will not help
them out. We have to pay
attention to the ecological base of our survival and
the needs of all. I
personally am committed to feeling and believing that the
species and the smallest of people have as much a right to live
planet with dignity as the most powerful corporation and the most powerful
I'm a card-carrying member of India's nascent dot-com economy.
Shiva I just was very disturbed by your omission of any reference to
Communities in today's world cannot grow in vacuum - they need to
to evaluate the evils of globalisation with the good of
localisation. Why is
that you omitted to talk about education?
Shiva: For the simple reason that the Reith lecture only allows me
But in any case I don't disagree with the characterisation of IT
as the only knowledge society. I believe the women working in
the fields conserving
biodiveristy, producing our food, cooking the food
also have a knowledge society
and it's that denial of knowledge in other
ways through other domains that
is the basis of the work we do against
biopiracy, the work I do against monocultures
of the mind, the work I do
against reductionism in science and technology,
and I think there is a real
need for our future to recognise knowledge in all
its diverse forms among
all the different creators of knowledge.
Jacob: I'm not saying the knowledge that indigenous community has is
But when a farmer is faced with the prospects of using what you
gold as opposed to his traditional seeds, the farmer opted for
the white gold
because he did not know how to evaluate his own local seed
modified foods. Therefore don't you think we do need to
educate our people
so that they can evaluate what they need to do?
Shiva: I actually referred in the response to the person who used to
Monsanto - that part of democracy is to have public education, and
awareness. I agree with you that technologies need to be assessed and that is
why for the last 13 years we have been trying to build this system of assessing
genetic engineering, the bio-safety protocol under the convention on biological
diversity, that finally after a decade of subversion is now in place and was completed
in January in Montreal. We need people to make decisions on the basis of having
the knowledge of what the technologies are, and having processes to actually participate.
That's the basis of our plea - in the supreme court on the Monsanto trials - that
we need more knowledge dissemination, more participation, more accountability.
And finally, there are situations in which we will be ready with the production
technology long before we are ready with the capacity to assess its impact. That
is when we call for the precautionary principle. Know the risks before you deploy
technology. The result we have a precautionary principle today is because we put
out DTT - gave it Nobel prizes, now we want to withdraw it. We put out fossil
fuel now we're worried about climate change. With GM crops you can't deploy them
because there's no call back. In any case the climate change phenomena is becoming
so life threatening that people are calling for the fact that you will never have
the final ultimate
deterministic linear prediction - therefore on the basis
of complex assessment, take care, take caution before you deploy technologies
on a verylarge scale that could be absolutely devastating for the planet.
Paya Naiur - professor at the Indian Institute of Technology: Some
(my institute) is exclusively focused on what you call the dot
com route to
success. Listening to your strong emphasis on biodiversity, it
struck me that
there was an unseen shadow twin of biodiversity which is
recyclability or reusability
in our cultures. India is said to be a great
recycling culture - we recycle
everything including souls...I wanted to ask
you whether this shadow twin recycling
had something to contribute to the
notion that the materials of the whole universe
are in fact reusable and
that we have something to actually offer the world
in this sort of
Shiva: We have been a civilisation that lived on the basis of
that's why when we today are burdened with plastic and plastic
compulsory, now required by law, people still treat that
plastic bag as if
is a little banana leaf that will disappear. And even the
cows are in the habit
of thinking plastic is like a banana leaf they can eat
up. Some products don't
disappear. Some products don't get recycled and
that's part of the crisis that
as a culture which has had such sensitive
ways of ensuring that our ecological
footprint is very light on the planet -
last year a scientist from Canada sent
me his data on ecological footprint
and his data on resource use, and ability
of eco-systems to absorb outputs
and waste was that there were only 3 countries
with surpluses in resources -
Sweden - at that time India. That was India before the race to
itself, globalise itself. Today what we need is a way to make a
fit into those
systems that we have evolved so sophisticatedly, recycling
organic matter to
ensure we get out of the chemical tread mill because
chemicals do not get recycled.
They just bio-accumulate.
Kayra from Delhi: While one would appreciate that biodiveristy and
like that do help in production, but I'm more concerned with the
today I find is disenchanted and is less and less motivated and
indifferent to his way of life and that maybe biodiversity
by itself will not
be able to explain?
Shiva: In the areas where monocultures have taken over, where
and chemicals are forcing farmers to spend the little bit of
income they have
to buy those useless and costly inputs - farmers are
disenchanted both because
of the negative economy I talked about - and no
production can take place over
time on the basis of a negative economy - as
well as the fact that the entire
set of technologies in industrial agriculture arecareless technologies. They are
technologies that substitute care with carelessness. You can just spray urea -
you don't have to do composting. You don't have to weed at the right time - the
few tiny weeds that might come up, spray the herbicide and that technology of
carelessness eventually creates disenchanted people because they have no meaning,
no role. In the areas where we work through our movement called "Navdanya",
for conserving biodiveristy and we now have seed banks in seven states, eleven
community seed banks have been started - every region where after a while the
farmers have replaced external inputs with internal inputs to produce food organically,
where they have managed to get rid of their debts - a threefold increase in incomes
just by saving on expenditure - they are excited, they're enthused, they are absolutely
on the verge of a whole new determination and I invite some of you to come and
visit those regions.