Our Survival Imperative: Cultivating Diversity

Dr. Vandana Shiva

Dr. Vandana Shiva

“I don’t call it ‘climate change’ any more,” Vandana Shiva said last night in Santa Fe. “That term sounds too benign to some, as if climate change could be portrayed as a beneficial thing with Eskimos able to sunbathe and so forth. But that’s not what’s really happening, so to make the true point I call it ‘climate kills.’ That’s what’s really happening. And industrial agriculture is playing a large part in creating climate kills.”

Dr. Shiva is in New Mexico this week to participate in the first international conference sponsored by IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements). A powerhouse at the podium, she is a scientist, philosopher, environmental activist, and author of over 300 scientific papers. Her influential books include Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply, and Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis

Last night – as she has consistently and eloquently over her career – she warned about the increasing dangers of industrial agriculture, genetically modified crops and seeds, and the burgeoning monopoly of the world’s food system by transnational corporations. “The monopolies are killing diversity, and killing farmers,” she said. “Food is not a commodity for speculation and profit. It is our essential source of nutrition that life may continue.”

Navdanya logo

Navdanya logo

Dr. Shiva said we must move from ‘suicide economies’ to ‘living economies’  She told of how in India some villages have established themselves as safe zones – free of agricultural chemicals and genetically modified seeds and food. “If governments won’t ban this stuff and protect the people,” she said, “then the people and the villages themselves will do it…No law is high enough to override the ethical duty we have to the Earth and to future generations. Cultivating and conserving diversity is no luxury in our times: it is our survival imperative.”

In 1987 Dr. Shiva founded Navdanya, an organizational pioneer in the movement of sustainable, organic agriculture, and seed saving in response to the crisis of agricultural biodiversity.  Over the last two decades, among other things, Navdanya has established more than 54 community seed banks in India. She encouraged others actively to consider establishing community seed banks, where neighbors, towns, and urban blocks grow and store  natural open-pollinated varieties of seeds.

In her keynote remarks last night, Dr. Shiva said “We can now move forward only by picking up the proven, healthy threads from the past, and extending them into the future.”

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One Response to Our Survival Imperative: Cultivating Diversity

  1. Jane says:

    Steve, you captured the essence of Vandana Shiva’s presentation. May we continue to be inspired to act for the good of the planet in wise use of our natural resources. Thank you for documenting Dr. Shiva’s talk.

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