Last night’s talk by Vandana Shiva left a sold out auditorium at the University of Victoria humming with righteous energy.
She reported with eloquent passion on the state of food in the world today, leading with the unfortunate news of the “Monsanto protection act” which Obama signed only a couple of days ago, and which protects the biotech industry from any liability for the harm it may cause.
And biotech is causing great harm. It has not increased yields or fed more people or reduced the use of chemicals in agriculture. The yields are the same, for it is the nature of the seed, not the pesticide technology that governs yield; 90% of the GM soy and corn crops grown are not grown for human consumption, but for animal feed or fuel; and now that Roundup has created Roundup-resistant weeds, the biotech crops need to be doused in Agent Orange to keep the weeds down. The fact remains that the vast majority of people, globally, are being fed by small farms, and this remains the only hope for feeding the world in the future.
She acknowledged that we are living in tyrannical times, but said there was still much we can do. The small rebellions can be the most satisfying. When the British tried to place a monopoly on salt in India, Gandhi’s response was to wade into the ocean and show that nature provides what we need. Similarly, when multinationals inject genetic material into plants and claim ownership, they are playing god. Our individual response should be to save seeds, she says. Even something in a flowerpot on your balcony will do it.
And there was much more, of course. Watch for a video record of her talk which I’m told will be posted on UVic’s website next week.