Bérangère Maïa Nathasha Parizeau: Thank you so much. Can you talk a little bit about your organization Navdanya?
Dr Vandana Shiva: I started Navdanya as an idea in 1987. In 1987, I was invited to a meeting where the bio-technology industry was also present. In 1987, there were no GMOs, but they were planning how to control seeds through GMOs, and taking patents, and collecting royalties. They laid it all out in a very honest way! And it was the old chemical industry that had brought us the pesticides, the herbicides. They are now saying: “We are not moving our money out of this. We’ve got to have royalties on seeds.” And, they worked out an entire architecture. They shaped the WTO organization and its intellectual property rights. And they said we have to do genetic engineering because this is the way we can pretend that we invented the seed. That's the day I decided I would save seeds. I did not name it Navdanya, I just called it seed saving movement. In those days the language use to be genetic resources, but if you translate genetic resources into any vernacular language, any Indian language, Chinese language, you have to call it the atom of the plant, which is a ridiculous way to describe a plant. A plant doesn’t have atoms, it is a self-organized living system, its complex, its emerging all the time! Its not a collection of atoms. So I just use the Indian word bija. Bija means that from which life arises on its own for ever, and ever, and ever. Farmers understood it! And it was during a seed collection trip in 1991, that I went in a tribal area were a farmer was growing nine crops in his field. And I counted, I said: “Your growing nine crops, so beautiful!” He said: “Navdanya.” I said: “You say it, in such a deep way!” I didn’t know what he meant. He then explained to me how the nine planets, because we assume two shadow planets to work out astronomical calculations. The nine planets, nine crops in our field, and the balance in our bodies is one continuum of harmony. And by growing the nine crops in my field, the Navdanya, I am serving the universe and maintaining universal harmony, and cosmic harmony, and I am protecting my health and the health of my family and community by providing all the diversity of nourishment that a healthy diet needs. That's the day I named our movement Navdanya. Of course in India we have created 120 community seed banks, we have trained more then a million farmers to uses old seeds, breed old seeds. Farmer seeds are not statics! They evolve, just as industry breed seeds, farmers breeds seeds. But farmers breading has been treated as if its not breading. And that allows the industry to steal farmers seeds and take a patent on it. So we have farmers go ecological. We have farmers with fair trade, and make the connection seed to table. And because of all the problems we have faced and fought in India, coming to every country, we’ve have now built an Navdanya International. Navdanya International movement helps governments as well as movements to defend seeds freedom and seed sovereignty, to defend organic, to fight GMOs, resist patents which should of never have existed on seed, as well as create a movement for Earth Democracy. Because at the end of the day protecting biodiversity is about protecting the web of life. We are part of that web of life. We are not outside it, if we were outside it we wouldn’t be alive. The fact that we are alive and we are a part of the web of life means that we have to think differently about freedom and democracy. We have to think of democracy as including all life on Earth. We have to think about freedom as including the seventh generation to come, who also have rights.
Bérangère Maïa Nathasha Parizeau: My next question is actually specifically about biodiversity. And how it plays a role, clearly, in planetary survival...If you can talk about that from your experience as a scientist ?
Dr Vandana Shiva: You know we’ve had about two hundred years of fossil fuel world view because that how old our dependence on fossil fuel is. We’ve had about three quarters of a century, of a fossil agriculture, were chemicals based on fossil fuels both fertilizers and pesticides, [?], Salfit, NPK. If you want to manage pest you just spray a poison. If you want to manage weeds you spray another poison called the herbicide. We don’t need any of these toxics... they don’t work. Pesticides have created more pests. GMOs have create most pest. Herbicides have created more weeds. GMOs designed to be herbicide tolerant have created super-weeds. Its a fail technology and a fail mindset! How does biodiversity address these problems? The soil is the richest biosphere in the world. It has more diversity than diversity in the oceans, diversity in the forests, diversity of birds, insects... And yet because the microbes are so small, we ignore it! We define it as dead, as a container for chemical fertilizers. So when we allow biodiversity in the soil to flourish, we give it food, we give organic matter on the basis of law and return. This biodiversity makes the nutrients, it makes more nitrogen then fertilizer factories can. It makes more magnesium, and all the micro-nutrients and trace elements. So when you get NPK from the factories, you get NPK, you have no micro-nutrients, no trace elements. You have nutritionally empty food. When you feed the diversity in the soil your plants have all the diversity of nutrients, your diets have all the nutrition, so you don’t get malnutrition, which even rich countries now have as a very severe problem. Pests! How are pest manage through biodiversity?
When I grow the nine crops Navdanya in my field, different insects feed on different plants. They have their own web. So the spiders and the lady beetles will control the aphids. I don’t have to...if I have a monoculture and I have aphids then I have to poison them, but all I need to do is have another plant which supports another insect. And biodiversity is the most effective pest control system, most effective soil fertility system. Come to weeds, when I grow biodiversity, that is the weed system. Its naked soil that is what allows weeds to grow. Monocultures must leave soil exposed, so monocultures designed for chemicals, which is an external input system has giving us all the problems in agriculture including greenhouse gases that are 50 percent of the climate problem. 50 percent of the climate change problem comes from industrial farming. 100 percent of a solution to climate change comes from biodiversity, and biodiversity based organic farming.