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Interview: Poison Free Food and Farming 2030

by Bernward Geier (comments: 0)

Vandana Shiva
Vandana Shiva fights for a sustainable agriculture – and stays optimistic even in difficult times. © private

In the face of the climate catastrophe and biodiversity loss, Indian environmental activist and feminist Vandana Shiva encourages global civil disobedience and calls for transition to 100 percent organic farming.

You strive to free the world from pesticides by 2050. Isn’t this a crazy dream?

The idea to fight for a pesticide free world using a clear time horizon started in 2017. On a festival, I met with Shri Pawan Chamling, the chief minister of the Indian federal state Sikkim, and Ulrigh Veith, the mayor of the South Tyrolean municipality of Mals. Chamling had just converted Sikkim to 100 percent organic and Veith had just successfully held a referendum against pesticides in the local apple growing region. There we developed the idea – and did not feel like dreaming crazy at all.

How’s that coming along?

Very good. In the last few years, organic agriculture has been growing worldwide, and has spread especially rapidly in India. Currently, millions of our farmers are switching to organic farming. 1.7 million farmers in my home state of Uttarakhand alone – this is all of them! Kyrgyzstan has also set itself the goal of converting its agriculture to 100 percent organic, and in Europe the Burgenland in Austria. In Switzerland there are already regions with 60 percent organic production. These developments led us to move our time target to 2030. Indeed, we must be faster, because the dynamics of the climate catastrophe and extinction of species leave us not anymore 30 years time.

How can the world become pesticide-free by 2030?

First, we must make it clear to the people that the same pesticides that kill bees and butterflies also make farmers and consumers ill. These diseases cause costs that we as a society have to carry. Once this is understood, it quickly becomes obvious that we can no longer afford chemical farming. The rapid switch to organic farming has become a question of survival.

Against this background, how do you assess the high legal fines and the image loss of Bayer as a result of the glyphosate processes?

The giant, global agrochemical companies destroy themselves with their greed and their hypocrisy. This is particularly apparent during the glyphosate court trials in the USA. That is why we now have a chance to stop these powerful economic groups for good and prevent them from destroying our planet and our social communities.

How did you become an activist for small farmers, ecology and organic farming?

Actually, I have a doctorate in physics. The so-called Green Revolution in Punjab 1984 that introduced agrochemical agriculture lead to violent conflicts. Then there was the fatal fire in an agrochemical factory in Bhopal, in which thousands of people died. At that time, I started to deal seriously with the subject of agriculture.

Looking back: what has been achieved since the beginning of your engagement?

Breeding achievements and the traditional breeding methods are being recognized again. These make plants more resistant and less agricultural toxins are needed. Also, the approach of sustainable agriculture is now widely accepted. However, during this period, the multinational agrochemical companies, which I call the “Poisonous Cartel” in my new book, in my opinion not only manipulated media and scientific institutions, but also laws. And they have spread their poisons all over the world. Additionally, they have forced the cultivation of genetically modified plants and monocultures that accelerate climate catastrophe and biodiversity loss.

You also say that democracy is in great danger. Why?

Mainly because the one percent of super-rich with their multinational companies has hijacked our economic system. The democratic structures of the economy are increasingly being undermined. Already now, there is a dangerous polarization of the society. Hereby, the internet and social media play a major role. With a lot of money and “fake news”, racism is stirred up. I believe that these are targeted campaigns to prevent people from organising themselves and jointly defend their freedom and fundamental rights.

In the subtitle of your new book “Another world is possible” you specifically call for civil disobedience. Does this express your deep connection with Mahatma Gandhi?

This is absolutely right. Gandhi coined the term Satyagraha for this. In my activist life, Satyagraha is a red thread. We have to fight untruths with civil disobedience. Be it the lie of agrochemistry to feed the world or the big lie about the necessity and safety of agro-poisons.

And what can individuals do?

It is a fact that our world community is the sum of all individuals. If every individual changes, society is changed.

What are the current Satyagrahas?

In times of extreme destruction of biodiversity and climate catastrophe, we need a Satyagraha for Life. Currently, this is without doubt the movement “Fridays for Future”. With the school strike, the young generation is practicing worldwide civil disobedience with an impact we could hardly imagine.

You are revered by many as a heroine. Do you have a hero yourself besides Ghandi?

My parents were and always will be heroic inspiration for me. But actually, I have a lot of heroes all over the world – the farmers and especially the female farmers. They give me a lot of strength to face my tasks and the challenges of the future with all my energy.

About: Vandana Shiva

… was born in India in 1952. She is a pioneer in the fight against the Earth’s ecological collapse. She sees the greatest potential in organic farming. Vandana Shiva has been awarded many international prizes, with the Alternative Nobel Prize probably being her greatest recognition. The activist has appeared in numerous documentary films and has written many books. In August her new book “Another world is possible” (Oekom Verlag) will be published in German. Information about her worldwide campaign “Poison Free Food and Farming 2030” is available in English:

The interview was first published in the German magazine Schrot&Korn which, like, belongs to bio verlag.

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