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NAVDANYA: NINE SEEDS & BIODIVERSITY
Dr. Shiva's Great Activism
My maternal grandparents were organic farmers in the Depression years until the 1980s when my grandfather had stroke and had to move into assisted living. My mom said that it is the black manure which is the best soil to grow plants and crops in. To this day she grows a garden every year full of vegetables and flowers. It is part of our family history this love of the land and Mother Earth. Understanding its beauty and complexities are part of our family heritage. Seeds are important in bringing the harvest to the people. They are used and recycled every year to bring about the greatest biodiversity of food for the harvest.
Dr. Vandana Shiva is one of the world's greatest environmentalists. In the early days of the Chipko Movement (Indian Environmental Movement), she researched the trees which were protected by the Indian women who surrounded the trees so that the loggers would not take the trees in the 1960s.
Navdanya means nine seeds. Dr. Shiva founded this organization to protect the seeds and promote biodiversity in India and worldwide. Monsanto promoted terminator seeds which farmers could only use for one season. The following year they became sterile and were not capable of growing plants. Many cotton farmers in India committed suicide because of the costs of these seeds and chemical pesticides. They could not make a living this way. Navdanya saves and shares seeds and promotes organic agriculture. One hundred eleven seed banks have been established. Navdanya has a learning center called Bija Vidyapeeth (School of the Seed/Earth University) which promotes biodiversity, conservation and organic farming in Doon Valley, Uttaarkhand, North India.
Dr. Shiva is well known for her environmental work and stands up against use of GMOs, pesticides and terminator seeds. A big problem is what is called biopiracy. Various companies patented natural plants and foods as though they were an "innovation."
One of the patents was for Neem, a fungicide which has existed in nature for thousands of years in India. The European Patent Office revoked the patent when its patent was challenged by Dr. Shiva, the European Green Party and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture. It is not an innovation, but a plant which has existed for thousands of years in India.
Rice Tec, a Texas company, in 1994 patented Basmati rice in the US Patent and Trademark Office. They wanted a monopoly on a variety of rice which has existed for thousands of years in India. The Supreme Court of India struck down most of the the Basmati patent. Sorry to say, whenever patents are challenged in US courts often the court sides with the corporation. This says something about the people deciding these cases.
In 2004 India and the United States passed seed laws which criminalized saving seeds. In India people protested and this law was rolled back. Unfortunately, the United States has not done the same thing even though people have protested this law.
In fact on March 18, 2015 there was a big farmers' demonstration in Delhi, India against GMOs and other anti-farmer policies. Prime Minister Narenda Modi came into power through the help of the GMO lobby according to the National Democratic Alliance. Modi did roll back his support of experimental planting of GMOs in India because of pressure from the farmers and environmentalists. He says he will study the topic.
Dr. Shiva has written an Open Letter to President Obama and Prime Minister Modi on the topic of seed freedom and food democracy. You can read the full letter at www.fairworldproject.org. Look under the blog section. It is a very compelling and well written letter describing all the problems associated with terminator seeds, GMOs and biopiracy. She promotes biodiversity and saving of seeds. Bija Swaraj is Seed Freedom and Anna Swaraj is Food Democracy. She advocates these two great concepts. Freedom to use seeds year to year is part of Seed Freedom. Food Democracy promotes farmers having the choice to grow the best way according to their own knowledge, not the corporate way.
Knowledge can be used for good or ill. Wisdom is knowing how to use knowledge in the best way for the good. These corporations are negating the wisdom of centuries for their own needs and greed. As Gandhi says, "Be the change you went to see in the world." Part of being the change is using knowledge in the right way.
For many years I have shopped at the Wedge Coop in Minneapolis, Minnesota in order to consume organic and non-GMO food. The food tastes like nature intended: the best. Often I see friends and even Hare Krishna devotees shopping there. Minnesota has more food coops than any other state in the Union. We are people who love Mother Earth. The coops mix democracy, socialism and capitalism in a very interesting way. They are a prime example of Dr. Shiva's Food Democracy in action. Pool your resources and money for the common good is the philosophy of the Coop Movement. This great system, which originated in England, has spread all over the United States and the world. With Earth Day coming up, it's great to honor the organic farmers of the world.
JAI SHRI NAVDANYA! JAI SHRI DR. SHIVA! JAI SHRI MA!