This is Part 3 of my interview with Dr Vandana Shiva. I apologize for taking so much time to post this information, I am really busy with the everything, finishing to write my masters in art in Asia Pacific Policy thesis, doing tons of yoga and currently enrolled in an advance Mandarin class...all of which is keeping me really busy!
Bérangère Maïa Nathasha Parizeau: My next question is...Can you talk about the relationship between globalization, corporate dictatorship and international trading system in the context of environmental sustainability?
Dr Vandana Shiva: You know, my work on seeds really began as a result of the fact that the corporation wrote the laws, turning seeds, which was...natures gift, evolutionary, co-creation between nature and farmers, 10,000 years of farmers breading, a commons, and they turned it into their intellectual property. So you have laws in free trade agreements, that create false property rights. What do these rights do? First they destroy democracy because after all, when governments meet to write a GATT agreement, governments representing their people taking permission from their parliaments should be doing it. When a corporation writes a treaty gives it to its government. In the case of intellectual property, Monsanto wrote the agreement, took it to the US government imposed on the rest of the world. Your subverting democracy! Exactly what's happening again with the Trans-Pacific Partnership were the overreach of corporations on intellectual property is getting deeper. Now the idea of intellectual property for example a patent is granted for an invention. It's granted for an invention by society to allow the inventor a short term exclusive right because they are bringing benefit to society. In the case of GMOs none of those principles work. You haven’t invented the seeds! You took what farmers evolved, you put a toxic gene into it. I am the creator. No! False claim! Seed is not an invention. It is not a machine that you put together. Second exclusive rights are given when your bringing benefit to society. Your bringing a toxic crop. Your getting farmers into debt. In India 300,000 farmers, have committed suicide for debt related to seeds and chemicals, after globalization, after 1995. Bridging more toxic shouldn’t be rewarded, it should be punished!
Bérangère Maïa Nathasha Parizeau: Can you talk about the World Bank, WTO, IMF and international trade agreements and how they work together to support to corporate profit and how that relates to the global water crisis?
Dr Vandana Shiva: In 1944, the rich countries were watching independence movements grow. Our independence movement was at its peak. In 1942, we had given the call of quit India to the British. You have to go! We are going to government ourselves! In 1947 we got independence. But the war was still on, and they could see the freedom movement of countries growing. They are going to break out of the colonial chains. So they very smartly, met in Breton woods, a place in New Hampshire in western United States. Created what are called the Breton Woods institutions because of that place. The institutions were the World Bank at that time called the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Monetary Funds (IMF), and a trade institution for which Cuba was given the responsibility of drafting the framework. But, Cuba’s draft, it was called the Havana Charter, said basically the first thing trade must do is reverse the drain of wealth from the colonies to the empires. Of course the US was not going to accept it, so two and a half institutions is what Breton Woods gave us, the World Bank for aid, the IMF as the lender of last resort, the GATT, because the institution was not allowed to be born. Its only when the corporations of America had started to control seed and food that then America said: "Now we need a global institution!" Monsanto wrote the intellectual property rights, Cargill wrote the agreement on agriculture. So basically you have, the two biggest corporations from agro-chemicals and from trade write the WTO rules of so called free trade. Free for them to grab markets everywhere in the world, and free for us because we lost our food sovereignty. We lost our farmers, we lots our children. Half of India children today are malnourished and waisted because of this free trade agreement that puts the right to profit for food higher then the rights to health and food.
How does it affect water ? On the one hand the world Bank, IMF, they give you loans, they get you trapped in debt. Then, they said you haven’t been able to pay the debt. You have to structurally adjust your economy to pay the debt. And an element of all structural elements from the 80s onward has been the privatization of water. I am so happy to say that 90 percent of it has failed because of movements. World Bank tried to privatize the Ganges water, the Delhi water supply. I build a huge movement for water democracy. We stopped that! Forty billion dollars is what the World Bank was giving for privatization around the world. They haven’t really succeeded. From that, water has been defined as a service. And then, trade and services allows companies... You have two absurd situations, you have Bolivia, where the World Bank forced Bolivia to allow Bechtel to have the privatization of water. The prices of water went up six fold. Protest started. Bechtel was thrown out. And then, they go and sue in a secret tribunal. A company in California wanted water of Canada, the British Columbia Parliament said: "But our water is not a commodity, we don’t want to sell it!" Sunbelt sues British Columbia, we would have made so much money by getting your water and selling it in California. You have rob us of so much profits! So the new free trade agreement, and the Trans Pacific Partnership is very very important for China on this. It has clauses called interstates dispute settlements mechanism. What are these mechanism. These mechanism basically say: "I, as a company, want to privatize your water." You as a government under instructions of your people in parliament say: "No water is a public good, its a commons we cant make it a commodity." The privatizing company from another country can sue the government for their lost of profits, which they cooked up in minds. And, these cases are not fought in the countries being sued, they are fought under secret trade tribunal were tradability is the only issue. Commodity flow is the only issue. Not the right of nature, not democracy! Its a very serious situation we are in, very serious situation!
Bérangère Maïa Nathasha Parizeau:: In your books you talk about how corporations have to act within the limits of the Earth. I am just curious. How can that happen? How can we make that happen?
Dr Vandana Shiva: Well, that's how it happened! All businesses were required and within social limits. Society and nature sets the limits for business activities. Its only this idea of free trade, the neoliberal economics, that has put corporations above nature, above people, above God, where you believe in a God. Because when Monsanto says: "I have created seed..." What are they saying: "I am a creator." So I joke and I say GMO means: "God Move Over! We are the Creators". So the problem is the new way in which corporations are behaving destroying local small businesses. So we have to come back, to business as embedded in nature and society.
Bérangère Maïa Nathasha Parizeau: My question is how do we engage people to make that transition?
Dr Vandana Shiva: The big transition that needs to be made is to recognized that today corporations want to make money from your life. They want to make money by selling you toxic GMOs. You can save your seeds like we do in Navdanya, grow the food with non-GMO seeds, and create the circles of distribution, and other food economy. This is the fastest growing economy in the world, the organic economy.. other economies are not growing as fast as people shaping their own food system. Take water...Do your water harvesting, you do your commons, you make governments put up water fountains in every public places, in schools, in universities, so that the plastic bottle doesn’t become inevitable. And, every time, they try to privatize water, resist, fight! It is happening! Community are doing this all over the world. Money, communities are creating local currencies to say this domination of fictitious financial economy that is 70 times bigger then the real economy, with 3 trillions dollars being traded daily buying up the real world. No, we wont let this predatory finances destroy our lives. And these initiatives are all over the world.
Bérangère Maïa Nathasha Parizeau: Can you talk about the position of China and India in the global context and the difference between India an China. What going on...
Dr Vandana Shiva: Of course, the interesting thing is that there is the China of Mao, which is designed to be a model different from capitalism. Today China is the factory of the corporate world. It is where all production is taking place. If you pick up anything...you will find Made in China. And this would of not happened without China joining the WTO because it allows the Wall-marts of the world, the Apples of the world, to produce cheaply in China and enlarge their profit margin. But China is being left will all the environmental burden. And whether its the air or the toxic waters... Why is China expending to other regions for its food, because the food in China has become so toxic! You add it all up... I read a study that if you internalized the environmental cost of China's production burden, it would be minus 9 percent growth. So, if you take the destruction of the environment as the externality you don’t really have the kind of growth that is talked about. But I also feel another big issue that has been put to risk in China, is the idea of the commons. The idea of sharing the common good. I feel that there is a place for it. I was very happy to address a big meeting in California where there were 300 Chinese, talking about the ecological civilization.
So the difference between China and India is this. We are a continuity of an ecological civilization, we’ve had no disruption. Globalization is the biggest disruption. We had colonialism, but for nature it was not such a severe disruption, for society it was. But our souls were not destroyed by the British Empire, or by the [?] Empire. If China and India join hand as ecological civilization. We would be the biggest force for good in the world. China has it through its Confucius philosophy, we have it through the philosophy of Earth as a family We need to start realizing that the Asian heritage is not being the pollution dump for western industrialization and globalization. We should centre ourselves on systems, philosophies, world views that have allowed us to last thousands of years.
Bérangère Maïa Nathasha Parizeau: Now here, we are here in Paris at COP 21, do you thing that there is the will to really reach an agreement that will include all the different stakeholders that will need to be included to solve the problems...
Dr Vandana Shiva: First issue is, even if an agreement comes out of Paris, it is very diluted compared to the 1992 admission of what was in the United Framework of Climate Change, which was very clear about the severity of the crisis, very clear about the principles of climate justice, and the principle the polluter should pay. Everyone is talking about where will the money come from, the polluter should pay. Mister Bill Gate is saying I'll be the hero! And how will he be the hero? By perpetuating the very model of development and economy that has caused the problem. So yes there will be an agreement, but it will still not be a good enough agreement for the Earth. Which is why, one of the things that I am doing in Paris, is launching a people’s pack for the protection of the Earth and each other. We will be planting a garden in Paris. As a commitment to this pack, it is available for signing on the seedfreedom.info website of Navdanya. And I hope your audience will become part of this pack. Because climate change is a symptom of a deeper problem, the deeper problem is that we are living out of balance with the Earth and her limits. A deeper problem is that we delegated power to the powerful. Who serve bigger powers. Governments serve corporations. How do we set this right? By taking back the power we have. We have power! How do we solve the problems? By living again within the limits of the Earth better lives, because in my view chemical agriculture, which is 50 percent of the climate problem, is giving us bad food! So our lives will not go down, if we shift to organic. We will solve the problems of the Earth, and we will solve our problems too. The idea that if you give up fossil fuel somehow your all slipping backwards, is a very wrong idea...many things are better off without fossil fuel, food is the first thing. So, I say even if government fail in Paris, we cannot. We, as citizens of the Earth, we as stewards of the seed of Earth Democracy.