Tag Archive | agriculutural industry

Sowing Seeds of Health, Hope and Humanity*

Sowing Seeds of Health, Hope and Humanity*

By: Linda Sechrest

An interview with Vandana Shiva a scientist, philosopher, environmental activist, author, and the founder of Navdanya, a seed freedom movement in India to promote native seeds.

LS: You believe that we need a new paradigm for living on the Earth because the old one is not working. What does that new paradigm look like?

VS: The old paradigm is based on fragmented thought, mechanistic science and on a deepening division between humans on the basis of class—the 1 percent versus 99 percent of the Occupy movement—as well as on gender, race and greed as a virtue. The emerging paradigm, which many of us are now seeing, is based on interconnectedness and equality as diversity, rather than on uniformity, as well as sharing and caring as virtues.

LS: How does your education in quantum theory and the science of interconnection play into the new paradigm?

VS: I wrote my Ph.D. thesis on the Foundations of Quantum Theory, especially the aspect of non-locality or nonseparability, which acknowledges the interconnectedness of the universe.

Quantum theory—the science of interconnectedness, which is the nature of reality—teaches us nonseparability, which is built into the new science of quantum theory and the new biology. Separation between humans and nature was intrinsic to the old mechanistic assumptions developed during the 1600s and 1700s by French philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes; English scientist, Francis Bacon; and English physicist, Sir Isaac Newton.

The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen Paradox, developed by Albert Einstein and his colleagues, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen, has shown that when a quantum system is subdivided and the two subsystems are separated in space and time, their state is nonseparable. I agree with physicists such as Niels Bohr, Wolfgang Ernst Pauli and David Bohm, who stressed the non-separable wholeness of the universe of physical phenomena.

LS: Which epic myths are you debunking about our industrialized food system?

VS: The first myth is that it is efficient. Using 10 units of energy to produce one unit of food as energy is not efficient.

The second myth is that it improves farmers’ livelihoods. In India, 270,000 farmers have been pushed to suicide, and the majority of family-owned farms in the U.S. have disappeared.

The third myth is that it produces more food. Our study and numerous studies conducted by the United Nations show that ecological farming produces more food.

Most industrial-farmed food now is dedicated to ethanol production for cars and to feeding animals in factory farms. It is not food for people. We have food deserts in cities and in the countryside.

food industryLS: What is the Declaration on Seed Freedom? Why is it important that people sign it?

VS: It is important for everyone to sign the Declaration on Seed Freedom because seed is the first link in the food chain. If we lose seed freedom, we lose food freedom. Seed freedom is threatened by genetically engineered seeds, which are contaminating our farms, thus closing the option for GMO-free food for all.

The seed freedom of farmers is threatened when, after contaminating our crops, corporations sue farmers for “stealing their property.” It is also threatened by the deliberate transformation of the seed from a renewable, self-generative resource to a non-renewable, patented commodity. The most extreme case of non-renewable seed is the “Terminator Technology”, developed with the aim to create sterile seed.

Thirty years ago, most North American and European seed companies were small, family-owned businesses that specialized in varieties adapted to regional climates, with resistance to local pests and diseases. Today, just 10 companies control 30 percent of the commercial seed market worldwide. Just five vegetable seed companies control 75 percent of the global vegetable seed market. Some of these companies, such as Monsanto, are imposing genetically engineered, patented seed on small farmers and are denying citizens’ labeling. In effect, they are robbing us of our most fundamental freedom, our food freedom.

LS: What is the Earth Democracy movement?

VS: I refer to the new paradigm as Earth Democracy, which recognizes that the Earth and all her beings, including humans, have rights and freedoms; that we are interconnected in a web of life, and are all members of an Earth Family. Earth Democracy enables us to make transitions to a living democracy, living economy and living cultures that celebrate life.

LS: How is what is happening in India important here in the U.S.?

VS: The U.S. and India have become deeply intertwined through dominant corporate globalization and Earth Democracy. Monsanto; Cargill, Incorporated; and Walmart are trying to take over India’s food and agriculture like they took over food and agriculture in the U.S. Our movements to resist corporate takeover of our seed, our food and our markets need to be connected.

LS: Can Navdanya, the seed freedom movement you founded in India, be repeated in other countries?

VS: At the Navdanya biodiversity and organic farm in Doon Valley, in Uttarakhand, North India [set at the foothills of the Himalayas], more than 630 varieties of plants are growing, butterflies are flourishing, and earthworms fertilize our soils. People from all over the world come here to learn and observe. For example, our A-Z course on organic farming attracted 55 people from 12 countries.

My colleagues in Italy have started Navdanya there. And the Seed Freedom movement spreading across the world shows that what is being done by Navdanya in India is relevant worldwide.

LS: How has your experience at Navdanya shown you that the future of cities, in any country, lies in gardens and organic connections to the countryside?

VS: As we evolved Navdanya on the basis of diversity and decentralization to offer an alternative to the monoculture and centralization, it became evident that cities can be sources of their own food through urban gardens, and can create their own foodshed by more intimate connections with the countryside. This improves the well-being of the country, those who farm in the country, and those who live in cities. It is a concrete step towards creating Earth Democracy.

LS: What has led you to the conclusion that living cities should be cultivated organically and that living food is the basis for living communities?

VS: Over the past three decades, beginning with my study on the Green Revolution, I realized that chemicals, monoculture and giant farms as the basis of food security constitute a lie that we have been sold.

During the past 25 years, my Navdanya experience has helped me to realize that good farming is like gardening. Biodiverse small farms produce more food and nutrition than large industrial farms. Navdanya’s concept of “Health per Acre” measures nutrition and quality of food instead of the “yield” of commodities.

Industrial food has created a killing culture, which is killing biodiversity, the soil, farmers and our health. Organic agriculture creates living food and living communities.

LS: How does ecological connectedness promote a sense of common humanity?

VS: Ecological interconnectedness is based on Earth citizenship. As citizens of the Earth, we breathe the same air, drink water in the same hydrological cycle, and eat food from a common food web. This makes us aware of our common humanity, and our common rights and responsibilities to the Earth and each other.

LS: Do you have any suggestions for how people in the U.S. can fight for food labeling of genetically engineered food?

VS: The California vote is only one step in labeling of GMOs. Other steps need to be based on creating local, organic, GMO-free food systems.

LS: You have fought Coca-Cola and other multinational giants over the privatization of water in your native India. Now you are doing battle with Monsanto over genetically modified seeds. What keeps you going?

VS: We have a beautiful text in India, the Bhagavad Gita, in which [Hindu deity/avatar] Krishna gives a simple lesson: Do not measure the fruit of your action; rather, measure your obligation of action. You have to find out what is the right thing to do. That is your duty. Whether you win or lose is not an issue. The obligation to do the right thing is the issue.

From childhood, I have been an ecologist and nature lover. My right thing and duty is to protect the diversity of species and their intrinsic value. Their integrity is vital, as are the rights of our farmers to have seed—the most fundamental source of livelihood in a poor country. Today, 80 percent of the world’s food is produced by small farmers such as those that we have in India. Our small farmers are 1.2 billion East Indians.

I believe that we have forgotten what smallness means when it is multiplied many times. We’ve also become accustomed to the dinosaur mentality. We only see the big and have forgotten that dinosaurs are extinct.

Source*

Related Topics:

Bolivia: Rights of Mother Earth Becomes Legal*

Feeding Us Pure Poison!

Indonesia: People’s Statement Against Land Grab and for Ecological Justice

Food Sovereignty in Africa: Reclaiming the Right

Ethiopia: Removing 70,000 People for Land Grab!

Egypt Joins the List of Countries That Reject GM Corn

The Art of Growing Food: Interview with an Organic Farmer

The Indigenous People of Norway: Enough is Enough!

Ecuador: How an Oil Giant Decimates a People

Bolivia: Life Exists Beyond the Washington Concensus

Are We in the Throes of an Evolutionary Process!

The Hopi Call for Water Rights

When Would You Eat Old Food!

Controling Haiti’s Gold

You are in the Throes of Being Denied the Right to Good Health!

Battle to Hide What Goes in Your Food Continues!

GM Crops Entrench U.S. Drought

40 Tons of GMO Crops Torched in the US!*

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Indoor Farming May Be Organic’s Only Hope

Intercon

farming growing organic[tweetmeme source=”intercongreen”]After decades of trying to build an industry based around a diversion from the chemical-laden farming practices of agro-giants, organic farming still makes up an infinitesimal portion of America’s produce. Despite the apparent strength of naturally oriented stores and markets, when it comes to planting acreage and shopping baskets, organics do not hold a meaningful presence at the table—largely due to lower yields and their affect on profitability. Due to its inherent control over growing conditions, indoor farming could be the medium that allows organic produce to harvest more of the national market share.

I recently read a fascinating post by Steve Savage, over on Sustainablog, who did some analysis of farming data collected by the USDA. His reported conclusions give us a glimpse of organic food’s place in American agriculture—and you need a magnifying glass to see it. According to Savage, harvested organic produce currently comprises a mere…

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Food Revolution: Taking Control of One’s Food Supply

Food Revolution: Taking Control of One’s Food Supply

By Hwaa Irfan

A revolution can take many forms, but it is only a revolution when it succeeds in uprooting a fraudulent, and oppressive system. We have been witnessing by care of the media, protests mushrooming around the world, the most important of all being the Tunisian and Egyptian youths demanding dignity and respect. Unfortunately labelled the “Arab Spring” it has inspired others around the world, but still many are fully aware to the extent the roots of an avaricious global system that has taken control of our lives. One of the mechanisms claimed by agro-pharmaceutical corporations, bankers, and investors through the stock market is the food supply causing the astronomical rise in food prices, which keep on rising, and is nurturing a global hunger crisis. Afterall, it was former U.S. president who said:

“Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.”

Unaware of all the forces at play that has led to her situation, Somalian, 30-year old Husna Mohammed who once ran an extensive farm in Somalia has found herself and her 8 children in the biggest refugee camp in the world, Dadaab Refugee Camp in North Eastern Province, Kenya along with 332,023 refugees. Instead of allowing herself to feel completely helpless and at the mercy of fortnightly rations of cereals, pulses, vegetable oil, salt and corn-soya, as an expectant mother, she has taken the health and nutrition of her children into her own hands. Outside of the tent that Husna and her children live in, Husna has grown a vegetable garden. Her garden consists of beans, potatoes, pumpkins, greens and maize. Her children are kept busy, by helping to water the garden whenever they can get water from the long queues at the watering hole. Husna is doing so well, she is even able to help supplement the diet of other members of the refugee camp.

In the West

Husna might not know it, but she is better off than thousands of people who live on estates in the West, in boxes atop of boxes of homes free of green space that they can use to supplement their diet. They are faced with soaring food prices, and increasing unemployment. Yet, a non-visible revolution has been going on whereby individuals in countries like the U.S. and the U.K., have been taking control of their food supply by growing their own.

On the island of Maine, U.S. in March 2011, a unanimous vote took place in support of the Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinance. The town of Sedgwick took the vote to protect small-scale farming by exempting direct farm sales from state and federal licensing and inspection.  The aim is to encourage first time farmers and home produce. Bob St. Peter explained in the press release:

“My family is already working on some ideas we can do from home to help pay the bills and get our farm going.”

“It’s tough making a go of it in rural America,”

“Rural working people have always had to do a little of this and a little of that to make ends meet. But up until the last couple generations, we didn’t need a special license or new facility each time we wanted to sell something to our neighbours. Small farmers and producers have been getting squeezed out in the name of food safety, yet it’s the industrial food that is causing food borne illness, not us.”

“And every food dollar that leaves our community is one more dollar we don’t have to pay for our rural schools or to provide decent care for our elders,”

“We need the money more than corporate agribusiness,” furnished St. Peter who is also on the board of Washington D.C. based National Family Farm Coalition.

The preamble to the Ordinance reads:

We the People of the Town of County, Maine have the right to produce, process, sell, purchase and consume local foods thus promoting self-reliance, the preservation of family farms, and local food traditions. We recognize that family farms, sustainable agricultural practices, and food processing by individuals, families and non-corporate entities offers stability to our rural way of life by enhancing the economic, environmental and social wealth of our community. As such, our right to a local food system requires us to assert our inherent right to self-government. We recognize the authority to protect that right as belonging to the Town of (name of town) .

“We have faith in our citizens’ ability to educate themselves and make informed decisions. We hold that federal and state regulations impede local food production and constitute a usurpation of our citizens’ right to foods of their choice. We support food that fundamentally respects human dignity and health, nourishes individuals and the community, and sustains producers, processors and the environment. We are therefore duty bound under the Constitution of the State of Maine to protect and promote unimpeded access to local foods.”

Be the change you want to be said Mohatma Gandhi!

 

Source:

Miller, N. “A Declaration of Local Food Independence.”

Wanger, J. “Struggle to Feed Eight Children in a Refugee Camp.” http://www.nation.co.ke/News/regional/Struggle+to+feed+eight+children+in+a+refugee+camp+/-/1070/1142204/-/vykoujz/-/

Copy of Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance of 2011

 

Related Links:

A Victory for Farmers, Consumers and Environment

A Food Revolution!

U.S. Sought to Retaliate Against Europe over Monsanto GM Crops

Monsanto: Controlling Our Food Supply

GM Sweet Potato: Forcing the Unnatural on Nature

GM Sweet Potato: Forcing the Unnatural on Nature

By Hwaa Irfan

It seems the GM saga is never going to end… to use a truth espoused by contentious character:

“When the power of love is greater than the love of power, the world will know peace.”– Jimi Hendrix

GM foods are in particular is about the love of power, the illusion of power that create life, the power to imbalance nature, the power to tell people what is good for them because it’s profitable, and the power to exploit others for maintenance of power whether financially, and in terms of status. If one has been told enough that one is not good enough, and then what one produces is not good enough, or in GM terms that the reason why you suffer from food security is because the food – your food is not good enough, and you are unaware of the nature of what you are being given as a solution, then you believe all that you have been told – purely psychology for profit.

Biofortification is a new term to add to the marketing of GM foods. To biofortify implies that one’s food is not good enough, and once one believes that propaganda, man has the ability to improve that food, which grows from the earth like the fortified foods (milk, cornflakes, dogs food, cats food, etc, etc., etc.) that many of us have become accustomed to without prior knowledge of the side effects e.g. fortification of milk linked to increased calcification of the body!

This time, the vegetable that has been downgraded in order to open the food market to GM foods is the honourable sweet potato. Using what has become the mantra and oft believed verse that:

“GM food can cure world hunger.”

And of course, which continent makes a good candidate… Africa, despite there being no respectable scientific evidence that can support this claim – but far too many of us believe it anyway (that’s good propaganda)! With the Wikileaks cable proving the U.S. agenda on promoting GM foods in Africa, and the U.S. representatives Bill and Melinda Gates via the Gates Foundation carrying out the mission for humanitarian purposes the machinations have been set in motion. This may be considered an unusual strategy, but for the U.S. it is not so unusual to find “investors” to pay for a war, and war it is – to control the food supply, like the wars to control the world’s oil supply – this was the intention behind investment banking, to ensure fluidity for what governments will not or cannot publicly finance.

The picture conveyed of the sweet potato is one that is deficient, a deficient food that if improved can help solve Africa’s growing hunger.

The Sweet Potato as Nature Intended

The Sweet Potato like all potatoes is native to South America. It contains:

Beta-carotene the signature of which is the orange flesh of the vegetable, a good source of Vitamin A, the African variety of which contains 100-1,600 micrograms to every 3.5 ounces,  enough to provide 90% of any humans Vitamin A quota.  

Fats – the fat content of sweet potato is beneficial, as it increases the human body’s ability to absorb beta-carotene.

Antioxidants  – The purple-coloured variety contains the genes (IbMYB1 and IbMYB2), which are anthocyanins, which are antioxidants, a property that is marketed heavily in the U.S. to sell foods rich in antioxidants as anti-ageing because they reduce oxidation of cells i.e. cell death/mutation. The anthocyanins are preserved on cooking by steaming the vegetable not boiling it to death. IbMYB1 and IbMYB2 also increases the activity of copper and zinc, which are also antioxidants!

Anti-inflammatoryAnthocyanins are also anti-inflammatory that on passing through the digestive tract reduce any risk presented by the intake of heavy metals – a problem in the polluted environs of industrialized countries, not Africa. This includes reducing the growing problem in ‘developed’ countries of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Ulcerative colitis, and general problems with the digestive tract.

Anti-bacterial + Antifungal – Sweet potato contains glycosides called batatosides, which are anti-bacterial and antifungal.

Proteins – in Sweet Potato, this takes the form of sporamins, which are antioxidants

Oxalates – are present in Sweet Potato which reduces the body’s ability to absorb calcium, but the oxalates present in Sweet Potato contains 30-40 milligrams per half cup, while foods such as spinach, beet greens, and rhubarb contains 100s (milligrams) per half cup!

Blood Sugar – Despite the paranoia around carbohydrates and sweet foods that arises from popular science, this combination in sweet potato with its low dietary fibre actually improves the regulation of blood sugar levels in Diabetes Type II  by increasing significantly the level of the protein hormone adiponectin, which is low in persons with poor insulin metabolism, and overall the prevention of calcium uptake is small if one chews properly, and has a healthy digestive tract thus preventing any build-up of oxalates.

Overall, Sweet Potato also contains:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Dietary fibre
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Potassium
  • Iron

Not bad for a nutritionally deficient food that is in need of being genetically modified!

The Sweet Potato De-Natured

Now in Mozambique, to ensure a good community response, the pop singer Bono of U2 broke out in song with “Gaba Gaba,” – oh those Africans love to sing and dance. With $20mn from Bill Gates (and he can’t be doing this alone), to ensure the biofortification of Africa’s Sweet Potato – Gaba Gaba is a biofortified/GM Sweet Potato with another named after Gates wife, Melinda.

Human Experimentation

The GM food industry has been able to get away without disclosing the findings/outcome of its experiments, experiment which humans are the end game. If we buy it, the experiment has been successful, not if it makes us ill it is unsuccessful, because after all, it will take a few years worth of human experimentation (consumption) to make any significant link to what the biotech industry will profit from.This is despite the accumulating evidence piling up on the desks of the World Trade Organization since 2005 that prove that GM foods for example cause:

  • Increase infant mortality – Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Undermines the immune system – CSIRO Plant Industry, Australia
  • Cellular abnormalities – University of Urbino, Italy

… with further evidence sworn to secrecy!

Exploiting the food security needs of Africa, one which was rejected by South America, Bill Gates has partnered with biotech companies to “Save Africa,” but for whom and for what?

Active in Kenya, which is under a corrupt pro-west regime, a regime that pleads starvation, when in 2009 they exported 450,000 tons of produce, during a time when the World Bank reports on land-grab opportunists, yet makes it possible for the most fertile soil to be “loaned” for cash crops and biofuels. Destroying the land, starving the indigenous people, while the Kenyan elite, global investors and banks (World Bank included) profit from this scam. As a result of this scam, The Gates Foundation fronted by Agra (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) has been kind enough to give 70% of its grants to Kenya, all of which are directly linked to the biotech company Monsanto; and as we know anything Monsanto is owned by Monsanto, including the seeds and the produce from those seeds! As Monsanto declared:

“We’re not here because of charity. When you help small farmers today they may not be good customers. But in 10 years time, they may be good customers.”

Meanwhile, like the wealthy of the U.S., their taxes will be minimal when Monsanto despite all the alarm bells raised about this corporation owns 23% of the global seed market, and controls through licenses 87% of the global land mass put aside for GM seeds.

The reports still keep coming as to the side effects of GM foods. Nineteen new studies demonstrate:

  • A change in blood chemistry
  • A change in weight of organs
  • A change in function of organs: kidney, liver, spleen with male animals affected more than females

Referring to a new report, the Institute of Responsible Technology state:

“We can conclude, from the regulatory tests performed today, that it is unacceptable to submit 500 million Europeans and several billions of consumers worldwide to the new pesticide GM-derived foods or feed, this being done without more controls (if any) than the only 3-month-long toxicological tests and using only one mammalian species, especially since there is growing evidence of concern.”

If this problem is so prolific in a region that has regulations in place, what chance does a whole continent stand unless they wake up to the current wave of neocolonialism!

Non-GMO Shopping Guide

References:

Ananda, R. “Leaked Cable: Hike Food Prices To Boost GM Crop Approval In Europe.” http://dissidentvoice.org/2010/12/leaked-cable-hike-food-prices-to-boost-gm-crop-approval-in-europe/

Lean, G. “Dangers of Genetically Modified Food Confirmed.”http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/11-dangers-of-genetically-modified-food-confirmed/

Mercola. “19 Studies Link GMO Foods to Organ Disruption.” http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/04/27/19-studies-link-gmo-foods-to-organ-disruption.aspx

Sharife, K. : “The Hidden Gold in Intellectual Property.” http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/70603

Shechminster, M. “African Potato Lab Fights Malnutrition With Biofortification.” http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2011/04/potato-lab/

“Sweet Potatoes.” http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64

Related Topics:

U.S. Sought to Retaliate Against Europe over Monsanto GM Crops

GM Food Legislation to Be Introduced in South Africa

GM Mosquitoes: Programming Nature

Can the Smarter Mosquito Outwit the GM Mosquito!?

GM Food Legislation to Be Introduced in South Africa

GM Foods and Fertility

Time to Ban Land Grab