Interconnectedness
Heartfulness eMagazine|December 2020
In 2017, DR. VANDANA SHIVA spoke with KIM HUGHES about the sacredness of the Earth, the work she has been doing to bring awareness and change in the field of sustainable agriculture, and the importance of understanding our interconnectedness with Nature, and how we can change the way we eat.
KIM HUGHES
Q: Dr. Shiva, you have been working tirelessly for years to bring awareness and change in the field of sustainable agriculture and ecological diversity, in India and around the world. Have we progressed? What are some of your most satisfying achievements to date?

I thing the recognition that the Earth is sacred, the rights of all her beings are inviolable, is growing. This is what has inspired me to spend a lifetime in the service of the Earth and defending the rights of those people who depend upon the Earth.

In terms of what are the satisfying achievements, one is saving this valley where we are sitting, which is my birthplace. I returned here because the ministry had asked me to do a study on potential mining in this region, and our study stopped the mining going ahead. It was the first case in India where the Supreme Court ordered that commerce had to stop if it was destructive in taking away people’s life support systems.

The work I started to do with saving seeds has been satisfying in and of itself, because seeds are such important teachers of renewability, generosity and diversity, and all of that has guided my work.

Regarding the legal issues, I’m satisfied that having woken up to how seeds were under threat, and starting seed saving, I was able to work with our government and our parliament to put laws in place that defend the integrity of seed – Article 3J of our patent laws. I was asked to help draft the Plant Variety and Farmers’ Rights Act so that we have the rights of farmers written in black and white. I was asked to help draft the Biodiversity Act, which makes it an obligation to protect biodiversity.

Then there are the things we started, such as the Community Biodiversity Register, documenting what is there, and all of that is now government policy. I can go to the remotest area and people are collecting this indigenous knowledge.

Then there have been the legal victories against the big giants, for example, our struggle against the patenting of neem. We fought it for 11 years and won. Basmati rice from Dehra Dun was patented by a Texas company, but we had that reversed. The wheat of India was patented by Monsanto and they also had to give up that patent. We were entering a new age of colonialism where instead of grabbing territory and saying, “This is ours,” they were now grabbing life, biodiversity, indigenous knowledge and saying, “We are the inventors.” And I think we put a brake on that bio-piracy epidemic. It still happens, but it would have been the norm if we hadn’t stopped it. It is now the exception.

I think that studying the Green Revolution, when the Punjab erupted in violence and the Bhopal tragedy took place, we’ve now been able to show that we can grow more food while protecting the Earth. We can feed two Indias through ecological farming. Our farmers earn ten times more by not being addicted to poisons.

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