Vandana Shiva


♪ [Opening Music] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪>>Provost Joe Urgo:
Good evening. Let’s just take one more chance to thank
Geri Littlejohn who was on the flutes for us,
the flutist. [Applause] My name is Joe Urgo
and I am Provost at UNC Asheville. I want to welcome you to
this wonderful evening tonight. It’s great to see
such a large crowd. Greetings also to the attendees
at the Humanities Lecture Hall where we’re streaming, live and
also our Internet guests who are on our website watching
this at the same time. So, for those in the hall, thank
you for joining us this very special evening with someone
who has inspired so many people around the world. UNC Asheville is committed to
providing timely programming to our local community as well
as to our students on campus. We recognize that the curriculum
of a public university is intellectual currency and that
it should by right circulate throughout the public sphere. So, we welcome you to
this evenings lecture. In that spirit of
community engagement, yesterday Dr. Shiva took part in
a tour of the George Washington Carver Eatable Park. She also took part in the
regional seed exchange at the Stephens Lee Community
Center along with hundreds of gardeners, farmers, locavores
and food activists to share their seeds,
share their stories, their cultures and their
passion for this region. We have so much to be proud of
here in Asheville in terms of our history with
sustainable agriculture, support for local businesses and
engagement with issues of food security and food justice. We would like to thank the many
organizations and individuals who contributed to that event
today- yesterday and to the Carver Park workdays. We would also like for
tonight to thank the student Environmental Center, The Office
of Sustainability for bringing Vandana Shiva to campus with
additional support from the NEH Professorship, the
Belk Professorship, The Professorship
of Mountain South, and the UNC Asheville
Events Office. Now I’d like to introduce our
Director of Sustainability, the indefatigable Sonia
Marcus who will introduce our speaker tonight. [Applause]>>Sonia Marcus: Good
evening everyone. Vandana Shiva is
a sower of seeds, seeds of hope and
seeds of resilience. For over 4 decades Shiva and
her allies have been ruffling feathers all over the world
with their seed sowing using unconventional hybrid
methods to collect information, document abuses,
raise awareness, and organize both impacted and
impactful communities through grass roots participatory
action campaigns. In so doing they have earned the
respect and the ire of a vast group of followers in
India and around the world. Dr. Vandana Shiva trained as a
physicist at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She later shifted to
interdisciplinary research in science, technology,
and environmental policy, which she carried out at the
Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of
Management in Bangalore, India. Dr. Shiva is the author of
over 20 books and has received numerous honorary degrees and
a significant number of awards including the Right Livelihood
Award also known as the alternative Nobel Prize. [Laughter] In 1991
Shiva founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect
the diversity and integrity of living resources especially
native seed and to promote organic farming and fair trade. In any of Navdanya’s
publications or Shiva’s many published texts,
including “Soil, not Oil,” “Stolen Harvest,”
“Staying Alive,” and “Earth Democracy,” you are as likely
to find poetry as punditry, scientific graphs as
first-person accounts, delicately crafted defenses of
one persons lived experience as passionate indictments of entire
industries and governments. Shiva stands ready to use every
tool at her disposal to quote, “Reawaken our duties to protect
the earth and our right as citizens to a fair share
of the earths gifts.” But why now? Why do we need to hear Vandana
Shiva now more than ever? Because she doesn’t let us
forget who the most vulnerable members of our society are;
women, the poor, the citizens of the global
south, the farmers, the keepers of indigenous
knowledge and practices. And why we cannot indulge in
the luxury of minding our own business while millions
are being robbed of their livelihoods, their cultures,
and their food sovereignty. Because she is not afraid to
consider and attempt to analyze our current reality at the
broadest possible scales of impact and opportunity,
recognizing that in doing so she makes herself vulnerable to
attack by the most powerful money and entrenched
interests in the world. Because she sees what is truly
at stake in the battles over food and farms, which is no less
than the accumulated wisdom of thousands of years of human
ingenuity and compassion for all of the planets living systems,
a cultural and spiritual legacy that cannot be restored once
it is inlitated for the sake of profits and efficiency. Because she reminds us where
our real strengths lie in our ability to organize locking arms
with our fellow earth denizens to reclaim our place at the
table where the fate or our planet and our species
are being decided. So now, let us open the gardens
of our hearts and minds and allow farmer Shiva to
cultivate our intellects, our capacity for
compassion, our courage, and our collective imagination. Please join me in welcoming
Dr. Vandana Shiva. [Applause]>>Vandana Shiva: Thank
you so much, Sonia. Thank you to the Provost. Thank you to the students
who worked to bring me here. It is an amazing campus
and a wonderful city. It’s very rarely you can enter a
classroom welcomed by zucchini. [Laughter] Which is what
happened this morning when I went to the Humanities
faculty room. And it just shows how you
can create abundance anywhere. But the seed exchange yesterday,
you know when I started this work 30 years ago the
traditional farmers were exchanging seeds but we’ve
forgotten about the seed in other places. And it makes me extremely happy
to see such a large number of seed savers and sharers
of the commons, which is what was
happening yesterday. And at lunch at the Southside
Kitchen and visited the Southside Garden. Again, for me it was you know
you constantly go to regions and all you hear is how there are
food deserts in this country. To go instead and eat good food
and see not just a lovely garden but a community that’s
diverse, that’s cultivating a diverse garden. So, all the things I live for I
have experienced here including the reception and I did say,
“This is the best campus food I have had.” [Laughter] I’ve been to campuses over
these decades and not only have they forbidden students
having organic kitchens or local food because there’s a contract. And that’s one of the reasons
I’m so engaged in these subjects because in the final analysis
it is about our freedom. How can a society be free
if farmers aren’t free to save their seeds? How can a society be free if
people aren’t free to grow their food in open spaces? You know they tried a case
in Los Angeles I remember, a young man started a garden on
the pavement and he was sued. He was sued because
the city said, “Homeless will come
and eat the food.” [Laughter] And then they might fall off
the tree and they might sue the city and
they couldn’t have it. So there couldn’t
be food anywhere. Reclaiming the freedom of the
commons is what I witnessed in the Eatable Garden yesterday,
open to anyone to come and collect. And that’s the word that we need
to grow because we have a very clear choice now. The choice is either to live on
a poisoned planet for a while, a hugely unstable planet, look
at what’s happening in Puerto Rico, what happened in Houston,
what happened in Florida. My country had one of the
worst flooding nearly 50 million people displaced, I counting
cows from our farmers, you see, we need seeds
for the next season. Every year the disasters
increase and every year the need for resilience increases and our
resilience comes from access to our seeds, to our land,
to our knowledge, to our capacities, all of
which is being closed down. So, we really are this kind of
final stage of a contest between a world that thinks abundance
and cultivate abundance and a world that thinks scarcity
and creates scarcity. Stephen Hawking recently
had an interview and said, “We have a century for human
species to survive and then on this planet we’ll be extinct. So, we might as well
move to other planets.” [Laughter] And my response is,
“There is a third option between extinction which comes from
irresponsible relationships with the earth and escape
to unlivable planets.” I mean, they’re hunting for
ways to grow food on Mars. There’s so much research money
being spent when you can grow food in all the gardens around. And not only can you
grow food everywhere, you can in the process
avoid extinction. We’ve been made to repeatedly be
afraid of the scarcity of food. Just the other day, there were
huge ads in papers saying, “Climate change, 9
billion people to feed, how will we do it?” Of course it was from
my very, very close and intimate friend Monsanto. [Laughter] You know, we can do it. First by recognizing that the
roots of climate havoc are the same roots that
are causing hunger. And the solutions to hunger
malnutrition and food related disease are the same solutions
that help us address the planetary crisis that our plate
and the planet have a deep, deep connection. I did my Ph.D. on nonseparability and quantum
theory and people used to smile and say, “What do you ever
do with a subject like that?” And I did it because I just
wanted to understand the world better and understanding
relationship, understanding that
nothing is separate. We are not separate
from the earth. That was a pretense of 200
years of industrial man, needs to be corrected. We are part of the earth. We are not lords and masters who
can trash the earth and think- just like we trashed this earth
and we trashed other cultures we can now move to
another planet to trash it. You know being born on this
earth creates certain duties. It also creates
such impossibilities. The climate disasters we see all
around by and large people focus only on energy because the
argument used is fossil fuels. But what is fossil fuels- what
gets used for fossil fuels is fossil carbon and fossil carbon
has been turned into fossilized material from plant material
over 600 million years by the earth, by nature. And she wouldn’t have
put it down there if she wanted us to use it. [Laughter] And we were acting more
intelligently on the planet when fossil fuels were
where they belonged, under the ground and we
were growing living carbon. There is a strange language
emerging of a solution to climate change referring to
De-carbonization and that makes me laugh because if
we de-carbonized, we’d be dead. There’d be no plants; we’d have
a dead planet because the planet is living carbon and we need to
start differentiating between living carbon and dead carbon
and growing a garden means cultivating more living carbon. And every time we do that we are
taking the excess carbon dioxide that has been put up in the
atmosphere beyond the capacity of the earth to recycle
that carbon dioxide, we’re putting it back into the
plants and back into the soil. It’s an amazing solution
to a very, very big problem. I have seen more people
feel hopeless and depressed by climate change and very
often they cling to straws. I remember being with
environmental friends about a decade ago in England
who suddenly were saying, “I was against GMO’s. I’m for it now because we have
no other solution to climate change.” Why is that? a somewhat misplaced idea
because no genetic engineering can create climate resilience. Every crop that has climate
resilience has been evolved by nature and farmers
breeding over millennia. Those are the kinds
of seeds we save. Those are the seeds that
have become available. When I started seed saving, I
did it just for the ecological imperative of saving seeds. Some of the seeds we
saved were salt tolerant. We weren’t saving
seeds for salt tolerance, but then a cyclone
hit Odisha in 1999. It was called a super cyclone
because 30 thousand people died. But we had these seeds and
we could distribute them. That was 1999; in 2004, a
tsunami hit the Bay of Bengal, the farmers who had saved and
grown salt tolerant seeds gifted 2 truckloads. And what’s happening to seed is
for me the ultimate process of scarcity vs. abundance. You save 1 seed; sometimes that
1 seed will give you 50 seeds, sometimes 100, in the case
of millets, a million. And half of it you
can use as food, some of it you can sell, others
will eat and you can share. You never run out of seed.
You never run out of seed. It fact all cultures and I know
mine but I know even in other cultures running out of seed or
not saving seed is the ultimate sin, the ultimate [indistinct]. And that’s why you hear stories
all the time of people in wars you know women putting seeds
in their skirts and their hems during migration. That’s how all the amazing
crops we have, have moved. I remember a story
from my region. 1915 is when the British came in
but before that there’d been a war between Gurkha and my
region, which is [indistinct] and people died, people
died also of hunger. After the war they found the
seed bins which were always saved in squashes
called [indistinct]. They were full; no one had
touched the grain, no one. Same as the story of the
Vavilov sentence in Petersburg, their people died but
the seeds stayed intact. So, there should never
be seed scarcity. Seed scarcity is a deliberate
creation on an absolute illusion that somehow if you make
seed non-renewable, or you prevent seed from framers
saving it by turning it into an intellectual property crime,
something I’m dealing with for 30 years and I’m going to
continue to deal with it till every seed is free and every
farmer is free to save their seed and exchange
their seed with others. [Applause and cheering] You know we managed in India to
get laws passed that plants, animals, including seeds
are not inventions. Therefore, they cannot be
patentable because you can only patent what you invent. We don’t invent our brothers
and sisters and our kin and our relatives in the earth family. We need to take care
of them, protect them, give them the space to multiply. The scarcity of seed has had-
has led to huge consequences, part of the consequence is not
having seed adapted to a place more and more crop failure,
but seed deliberately made non-renewable, patented and in
my country now we have a huge crisis of farmers committing
suicide because they’ve got into debt for non-renewable seed
something that could have- they could have saved and had. This is even more important in
the case of climate disasters, because first the disaster hits
you and then if all you have is patented seed there is no
way a farming community can ever recover. In Haiti after the earthquake
there was an attempt to dump huge amounts of GMO
seeds and the farmers refused to accept it. They did not allow
GMOs to come in. How our agriculture, climate
and the issue of hunger and malnutrition so
intimately related, they’re related because
at the end of the day everything is food. The web of life is a food web
and as an ancient [indistinct] India says, “Everything
is something else’s food.” You know for a while that the
anthropocentrism they used to make this pyramid, man at the
top and then the animals and then the plants, and I don’t
think they should even put the microbes in that pyramid. Well microbes are the
ultimate, not only in the soil, the amount of nourishment
they give us the amount of biodiversity enrich soils. We have a soil lab, we of
course teach a lot of soil rejuvenation, just look at the
figures in one gram of organic soil if thirty thousand
protozoa, fifty thousand algae, four
hundred thousand fungi including that lovely fungi which Sir
Albert Howard woke us up to, the mycorrhizal fungi. And in one cubic inch of soil
you have eight miles of it and they’ve now done research to
show that you can starve a tree, but the tree will have
nourishment and they found out now because they are
putting trace elements in it. What they’re finding is the
fungi will go to the tree, which is well nourished and pick
up and go and give it to the tree that’s not nourished. And so, I say the future
politics is being like the mycorrhizal fungi, invisible
it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re not
on a rooftop shouting as long as you’re bringing change that’s
why for me the garden is so important because
it’s a beautiful, joyful quiet revolution
that enriches the evolutionary without putting
their lives at risk. Microbes are not just in the
soil; they’re in our gut. Microbes are not just in the
soil; they’re in our gut. My culture had evolved thousands
of years ago not just a very ecological system of farming, I
don’t know how many of you are aware that organic farming as
it’s known as it’s called in today’s world, spread
through Sir Albert Howard, who in 1905 was sent to India to
improve Indian agriculture you know we’ve always been improved
five hundred years we’ve been improved we’ve been civilized. Thank goodness some of us
stayed primitive and barbarians. [Laughter] Because that’s the future. So,
he was sent to improve Indian farming and start the
scientific agriculture. He arrived and as
he says in his book, “The Agricultural Testament”
which some people call the bible of organic farming
he said, “I arrived. I found the soils were fertile. There were no
pests in the field. I decided that day to make the
Indian peasant and the pest my professor, to understand how to
do good farming and that’s how “The Agricultural Testament”
was born. Rodale came to visit him. The Rodale Center grew
out of that initiative. Eve Balfour of England
read his works. The Soil Association
began with Eve Balfour. These are the beginnings of the
contemporary organic movement and the contemporary organic
movement begins with Howard recognizing 3 principles; first
that nature never works as a monoculture. Nature always
works in diversity. Second, that nature and good
farming is based on what he called the law of return, that
if all you do is extract and all you do is take sooner or
later you’re going to leave impoverished soils. And again, as an ancient
Indian viva says, “In this handful of
soil is your future. If you take care of it,
it will take care of you. If you destroy it,
it will destroy you.” Every civilization that God
destroyed got destroyed because of the lack of care for the soil
and today’s massive migrations are linked to a desertification. A desertification linked to
industrial farming which forgot that it has to give back which
based itself on what Howard called the NPK mentality,
the nitrogen phosphorous potassium mentality. Of course, nitrogen is
considered the big miracle and it used to be said in Germany
where- the same labs that had made the explosives were now
being used to fix atmospheric nitrogen by burning
fossil fuels at very, very high temperature. And these were the
same scientists, they were the same scientists
with the [indistinct] and the BASF and the IG Farbens who were
also making the gasses for the gas chambers and the
concentration camps and the poison gasses, which are the
precursors of the pesticide industry. For one kilogram
of a nitrogen fertilizer, two liters of diesel gets used. The wastage of fossil fuels
in agriculture has barely been noticed, nor has the links of an
industrial model of farming with the climate disaster. That’s why I wrote the book
“Soil Not Oil” before the Copenhagen conference and the
data is there you just have to add it up it just- it doesn’t
get counted clearly as the food system so you’ll have a
category called land use change, what isn’t mentioned that ninety
percent of land use change is chopping down the
amazon to grow GM soil, or chopping down the Indonesian
rainforest to grow palm oil, it also is part of
the food system. All horrible packaging,
everything in piles of plastic, piles of aluminum
we are eating oil. We are eating oil in the food
and outside the food and we call this the ruck sack of food, the
unnecessary packaging because the more long distance your food
system the more packaging you need. It also changes
what you eat. I remember once I was giving a
talk at a major conference in- in Spain and they left a
huge basket of food for me. I put some of the fruit in my
bag and first of all I forgot about it when I got home and I
came back about four weeks later and it was sitting there like
rocks, hadn’t rotted, it should. I took a bite of the peach, I
took a bit of the apple and I took a bite of the plum and
they had the same non-taste, because when you do long
distance transport for food you have to start breeding
rocks and not edibles. [Laughter] Then it’s this big
movement of food itself which we call food miles, you add it all
together and then you add the nitrous oxides that come
from the nitrogen fertilizers, which are three hundred times
more damaging to the climate system, and not only are they
emitting the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, the run-off is
leading to the dead zones in our water ways. We have a very beautiful
nonviolent option and that nonviolent option is just
to grow pulses and beans. They fix nitrogen nonviolently,
you don’t need to blow up fossil fuels and the amount of nitrogen
they can give you is about two hundred kilograms per acre. Interestingly when I
started to save seeds, I was very fortunate my parents
used to have very good library, and the first agricultural
minister of India was a dear friend of theirs and so all the
old books of the fifties were in their library and I would go
into the village with these books and the pictures. They used to make nice books
with drawings and now usually art is the one place and science
is another place and you know what a plant looks like, so I go
to the villages in Choo and say, “Do you have this?” The men would say no, no
we only grow soybean now. No, we only grow potato now and
the women would take me aside and said, “No I grow it, my
children have to eat real food.” [Laughter] And this stuff is for selling
and he only knows what is sold. I know what feeds us and I take
the local name and of course have the Hindi name, I’d
have the scientific name, but the English name of pulses,
these amazing nonviolent solvers of the climate problem, because
the British didn’t know how to eat vegetable protein you know. They were meat eating so they
called [indistinct] the pigeon pea, the Ghandal the horse
gram, the chickpea was called a chickpea, yeah for chicken. That’s one of the
most delicious foods, one of the most rich
foods. Cow pea. [Laughter] Every animal under the sun
except the human being. Chickpea can fix up to one
hundred and forty kilograms of nitrogen per hector. Pigeon pea two hundred, in soils
that are organically farmed and the kind of gardens you’re
growing here that are organically farmed there is
absolutely no reason for soil degradation and lack of food. We’ve just completed a study of
twenty years of farming on our land and in our valley with
farmers who are members of the Navdanya family and
even the scientists, we work with the top
soil ecologists of India, who went- you know ten years
ago when I called him to do a ten-year study he
says, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s fine inorganic and a little
chemical that’s integrated.” A bit of pesticides, a bit
of something else integrated. This time when he
finished the study he said, “We don’t eat chemicals,
look at the data.” And this is an average of many
farms and there’s variations because different farms
grow different crops. So, chemical farms have lost
organic matter fourteen percent. In our organic farms the organic
matter has increased twenty-nine to ninety-nine percent. Farms that are
chemical use urea, use synthetic nitrogen, you
would imagine the synthetic nitrogen is increasing
nitrogen in the soil. It’s gone down by seven to
twenty two percent and the organic soils it’s up by
twenty-one to one hundred percent and PK, potassium
down twenty two percent up eighty four percent. Lots of talk these days
about zinc deficiency, in fact a public health doctor
came from- from Australia and when she saw our
systems she said, “Now I understand why so many
young people are depressed,” because she does
biochemistry of the brain and found zinc deficiency. If your food doesn’t have
the micro nutrients and trace elements you’re going to
have the deficiencies. If your soil doesn’t have
those micro nutrients and trace elements, your plants won’t
have it and on an average in the west, in the industrialized
countries, food has lost sixty
percent of its nutrition. So, what we are producing is
nutritionally empty commodities loaded with toxics and
that’s not what our bodies were meant for. They miss the diverse nutrients
and they’re not adapted to the toxic chemicals. So, Iveta always knew that the
digestive system is the critical aspect of health. And I will always say you have
to eat six tastes because in the 6 tastes you get the diversity
of the foods that make for a balanced diet. Now science is coming
to a similar conclusion. For example, books say
for decades the mechanistic militaristic disease model set
the agenda for medical research. As long as you could fix
the effected mechanical part, we thought the problem
could be solved. There was no need to
understand its ultimate cause. We are just beginning
to realize that the gut, the micros living in
it, the gut microbiota, the microbiome constitutes one
of the major components of these regulated systems and the
signaling molecules that they produce from their vast numbers. Now there are hundred thousand
times more microbes in our gut than people on the planet. So that pyramid
doesn’t really work. 90% of us is not human. It’s the microbes that are
carrying us and supporting us. And the gut microbes work
with basis of an amazing intelligent interaction. There are 5200 million nerve
cells in the gut and they’ve started to call the gut the
enteric nervous system the second brain. So you can have food that’s
nutritionally empty but your second brain is feeling deprived
and we have to return to the issue of hunger again and again
and again because the issue of hunger has been defined only
in times of lack of stuff, not lack of nourishment. Now more than- between 800
million to a billion people are now permanently hungry. It’s not that there wasn’t
hunger in the past, but that hunger was short term,
you had a rainfall failure but you stored- In the desert of
Rajasthan there’s a village, even today it stores enough
for 5 years because it’s in the desert and it knows they might
have a failed rainfall but it doesn’t convert to famine,
because for 5 years they can sustain themselves.
That’s resilience. Wars created hunger,
but then wars got over. What had become permanent is
the war against the earth. What has become permanent
is the war against farmers and the land. What has become permanent is
the war against our bodies. And that’s why the food system
is so important to address. Hunger is created
by many mechanisms. The first, you don’t
grow nourishing food, 90% of the corn in soil always
grown in the name of feeding the world, always grown in the
name of feeding the world, 90% goes for biofuel
and animal feed. And even the 10% wouldn’t get
eaten if you had labeling and to make a choice. There has been such an
important issue in this country. Four states tried
laboring through the ballot, advertising, false advertising
undercut [indistinct]. Vermont passed a labeling
law through a legislation. A new fashion is coming and not
just in this country but it’s a globalized fashion of what
is called pre-emption. When a region or a community or
a county exercises its rights, according to the constitution,
you just go higher up, work through lobby groups,
and get the decision undone. This is an undermining of
democracy for what is becoming like a food dictatorship. How is malnutrition created,
how is hunger created, in the very design of
industrial agriculture? First you grow monocultures
that are not food. When monocultures are grown,
you will by necessity have less food. And when monocultures
are grown industrially, there’s even less nourishment so
the first place where nutrition is deprived is through
industrial breeding. Breeding industrially has been
designed only with one purpose, how to breed crops for
taking more chemicals. The entire green revolution was
about making dwarf varieties so that you could put more
nitrogen fertilizers. It did not produce more food. In fact, it got rid of the food
because it displaced diversity, and that displacement of
diversity meant destruction of food, all the scientific
literature is showing that the richer the mixtures, the more
the diversity the more food we have. We’ve evolved an indicator
which I call nutrition per acre because by and large agriculture
is based on yield per acre. All you do is measure
what will be traded, what will leave the land not
what will go back to the soil, not what will be eaten
by the farming family, not what will circulate in the
local economy but what will be traded globally. And so, we’ve reduced our
diversity from 10,000 plant species that we used to eat to
12 globally treated plants and with the GMO push and the fact
that royalties come with it 4: corn, canola, soy, and cotton.
Most of it doesn’t go for food. Now we measure
nutrition per acre, not yield per acre. Nutrition per acre means you
measure the health of the soil and the nutrition in the soil. It means you measure all
the nourishment and all the diversity of food. And we can feed 2 times
the planet by intensifying biodiversity and growing
food ecologically. Replacing biodiversity
with monocultures creates vulnerability. Monocultures fail more quickly
when there’s climate disaster. They fail more quickly
in a drought. They will fail more quickly
even with heavy rain. The word Navdanya that our
movement is named- I got it- by a triber that was growing
9 crops and gave me the significance of the 9 crops.
He talked about the 9 planets. I went to a lovely class
of indigenous perspectives, astronomy on the sky and this
triber had all this perspective. He said, “The reason that you
grow 9 crops is you have to take care of the 9 planets and by
growing the right food I can maintain that balance. I have to take care of the soil
which needs this diversity and I have to take care of my health
and my families health which needs that diversity.”
A tribal knows it. We’ve been made to forget it,
we have to remember it again. Replacing sophisticated
ecological processes of renewing fertility, managing pests,
managing weeds has given us a system of huge chemical inputs. But decline in food availability
overall and nutrition availability in
addition to that. So, every process that is
leading to higher emissions of the greenhouse gasses,
the carbon dioxide, the nitrous oxide,
and then methane. Why do we have methane
as a greenhouse gas? First because we are putting
more and more animals into prisons and then feeding them
grain, an intensive feed. Very often dead animals which is
what happened with the mad cow disease you remember in England,
where they just took dead cows and ground them up and the
word for it was rendering. Rendered meat, so you’re
not supposed to know where it came from. Well the cow’s milk got bad and
the beef that was fed to people gave the CJD to 12 people and
that’s when people woke up, that it matters. And the interesting thing with
the mad cow disease was it was not an external infection. It was a distortion
in the protein. Its name was- there was a Nobel
Prize for this- the name given to it was the prion. It was in structure, in
chemistry the same but in space it had got distorted and had
become a self-infective agent. A large part of the emissions
are coming from factory farms and another large part is
coming from this long distance industrialized food system
which has to waste 50 percent of the food. Now they keep coming to us to
industrialize our systems and they say, “Oh India
has food waste.” I say, “Where do we
have food waste?” If I’m not eating a part of
my cabbage my cow will eat it. Whatever, and first of all in a
diverse system a tomato that has a distinctive shape is
not hazardous to health, it’s just different. You know how they measure
safety in food these days? They actually have trays, if
your apple doesn’t fit into that size it is dangerous for health. [Laughter] If your cucumber has
a little personality and doesn’t go through that-
dangerous for health. They call this sanitary,
phytosanitary measures and this is what’s behind all this
food safety modernization. So, large parts of food gets
wasted because it is not fitting into the uniformity. And with long distance transport
and the ‘best before date’ a lot more gets wasted. Not recently but I was doing a
convocation address somewhere on the west coast and the young
people cooked me the best dinner and of course very
innocently I asked them, “Which organic farmers
produced this food?” And they all giggled and
looked at each other and, “Should we tell her,
should we tell her?” And then they said,
“We dumpster dived.” And I had not heard
that word before. [Laughter] And so, I said, “What’s
dumpster diving?” And they explained to me, “It’s
rescuing good enough food that’s thrown away by
the supermarkets.” So, the creation of hunger by
wasting food and the creation of gas emissions, methane emissions
comes from the same places. On the other hand, the
biodiversity intensive, ecologically intensive, care
intensive farming system is what allows us to be able to both
address the hunger problem by growing more food everywhere. Three damages that have been
done by industrial farming to our imagination is first
assuming that globally traded commodities are food. They’re
not. They’re commodities. They feed profits, they might
run a car, they might torture an animal but they did
not ever reduce hunger. Second is, farming is done on
hundreds of thousands of acres in some places like the
Midwest of this country. The reason I’ve loved my visit
to Asheville is you are farming in every nook and corner
that you can find. [Laughter] And that eatable garden
near the roadside, that little place- and
right next to the lecture hall. And then they say, “Oh we
don’t have enough land.” Ask the zucchini how
much land she’s taking. She’s climbing the tree. [Laughter] We forget there are 3 dimensions
in space and the best productivity is harnessing
the 3 dimensions. And my concern increasingly
is about this very ridiculous notion of Cartesian Causality,
A causes B, but there is no A and no B
in a complex interrelated, self-organized world,
there is process, and just like we’ve to
move into 3 dimensions, to do good farming, we’ve
to move into 4-dimensional causality to understand
what’s going on in the soil. I was once advising
a government, we’ve had five governments go
organic in India and I worked with the government of Putam,
which has made a commitment to a hundred percent
organic transition, this government of Siccum. It was going to hard and the
scientists have done wonderful work with organic
farming and they said, you know it’s producing
more, organic is producing more, but these weren’t all chemically
trained farmer- agricultural science, producing
more but it can’t be. Now the data is showing is
producing more but the can’t be keeps popping up, because they
don’t understand the ecological processes and they don’t
understand the ecological processes because agriculture
has been reduced to an external input system, an external input
system where chemicals come from outside, where your seeds
come from outside where your knowledge comes from outside,
and then Monsanto’s now working on farming without
farmers that’s the latest. They’ve bought up the
world’s biggest climate data corporation, because they’re
realizing that climate change will be big so they want to
make a market out of that too. They’ve bought up the world’s
biggest soil data corporation Now combining the two they’re
also turning knowledge into the new commodity, not as
knowledge but as data. So, your farm machinery will
have- they call it spyware, every bit of this I have
received from Monsanto literature, yeah, so your
tractor will go over it will collect the data on your
soil which will go to Monsanto headquarters which will sell you
back your data as a commodity now, rather than you
knowing your soil. And for me the most troublesome
part is this- when I started saving seeds they used
to be talking about a one trillion-dollar market if
every farmer can be forced to buy seed every year. They’re now talking about a
three trillion-dollar market of insurance. Of course, with this unstable
climate the need for insurance will be higher. Pointers will be paid to
Monsanto and the climate corporation which it owns now,
or A will we build up resilience in our soil in our seeds in our
communities in our knowledge through our ability to not just
deal with climate disasters, I mean every climate disaster-
it’s people helping each other that has really been the
place that we overcome it, but mean time knowing that in
thirty to forty years’ time we need to be able to
address climate change. So, when the Paris Treaty,
Paris Agreement was done, earlier we used to
have legally binding emission reduction targets. They’ve been changed into
voluntary targets after Copenhagen, but the voluntary
targets governments are offering, leave a
gap of ten giga-tons, and everyone was panicking and
that’s when I started a garden in Paris, called
All the Movements, because we worked out that this
three fifty part per million issue we can bridge the
emission gap through ecological agriculture, that’s ten giga
ton can be met by putting more carbon more nitrogen in the soil
healing the carbon cycles and healing the nitrogen cycles
while growing more food everywhere. A lot of people say
to me the problem is too big, therefore we need
very big solutions. One big solution is another
problem called geoengineering, blast the planet, yeah? Create artificial volcanos,
tell the sun to go back, President Bush had
favorite project, reflectors in the sky, but
the sun was never the problem, the pollution was and you
need the sun to grow your food, if there was no sun and there
was no photosynthesis there would be no food. There others who offer solutions
like bio fortification for hunger, have totally
nutritionally empty rice continue to grow monocultures
keep using the chemicals have very large farms and add a
little bit of vitamin A. But the problem with that
solution is that it is so inferior you know very
often in the [indistinct] you’re afraid of GMOs. I’m not afraid of GMOs but I
think when one carrot or a little bit of chutney our lovely
mint chutney or a little our moringa leaves can address the
problems hundreds of times more and we have good garden,
we have biodiversity, we have delicious food, why
would we condemn the planet to continue destruction, continue
all the other deficiencies, not meet the vitamin A
deficiency either and have a system that’s inferior. For me the problem with the GM
issue is it’s the stupidity. [Laughter] It’s the stupidity because
we can- we can control weeds, we control weeds on
our farms through mix cropping, through rotations all kinds
and anyway not every plant is your enemy. The botwa, the amaranth, they
all grow beautifully and now that the amaranth has been
turned into a super weed in this country because of GMO
Roundup resistant soil, corn, the palm amaranth has become
a weed, a super weed, tall. So, what is the solution they’re
saying lets used [indistinct] rice to push it to extinction. Footnote of the report, it’s
from the defense research and Bill Gates, a little
footnote, food security impact, yeah there’ll be a little food
security impact on India, the Indians eat amaranth. Well not just us, the
Mexicans eat amaranth. Amaranth is the most-
the greens are nutritious, rich in vitamin A, rich in
iron and the grain is God’s own grain, has some of
the best nourishment. We don’t need a war mentality
to deal with life on Earth. You don’t have to see
every insect and say enemy, shoot it dead, get the worst
arsenal this is what Rachel Carson wrote about. You know most of the
insects- first of all, all insects have a function, in
a biodiverse systems the insects work out how to balance
each other the pest rotator relationship. Most insects
are friendly insects. You know this war against
insects is what’s killing our bees it’s what killed
our monarch butterfly. It’s time to stop this war. And of course, adding a little
bit of one nutrient when every plant has the intelligence
to give us many nutrients, the soil is amazing capacity. You know Darwin is only
referred to in terms of the competition issue. He’s written two brilliant books
one is called “The Earthworm Mold” where he says,
“The end of the day, when we write human history we
will realize the most important species for us was
the earthworm.” And another book in which he’s
talking about the roots of the plants and he called the roots
the brain of the plant and now they’re finding out the level
of communication that goes on in the roots zone, just like the
level of communication that goes on in our gut, the answers to
hunger and poverty and climate change do not lie in the violent
minds of the- of those who have destroyed all species. It lies in the recognition
that we are intelligent earth citizens and our well-being is
connected to all other beings, but compassionate thought and
action are what create abundance and well-being for all,
not inconsiderate, careless, violent, smartness. The precision of killing
does not give birth to life. It results in killing. The mechanical mind
celebrates violence, the ecological mind makes peace
with all beings and grows more food, and addresses
the climate problem. The strategic implementation of
post more chemical agriculture has in the last century
systematically destroyed the diversity that would be our
greatest trend in combatting the climate crisis, to a
very large extent. And by this very system of
production and consumption of chemical food, in this period we
have lost ninety three percent of all food crops we ate. We’ve create deficiencies,
we’ve created hunger, we’ve created malnutrition. That is why seed by seed,
garden by garden, farmer by farmer,
citizen by citizen, plate by plate, we are sowing
an alternative based on the intelligence and the science,
responsibility and awareness, care and compassion and in
the process more species are flourishing. There is more food,
more rejuvenation of our biodiversity, our
soil, our water, the potential for a healthier
planet and society with more knowledge among more people and
an earth democracy based on the intelligence of all life
evolving in harmony that you have started this process
in Asheville and in this university, sends me back
very, very happy to my country. Thank you. [Applause] Thank you very much. Thank you. ♪ [Closing Music] ♪ ♪ ♪

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