Our Survival Imperative: Cultivating Diversity

August 26, 2009
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.”


Pollinator Perplex: Update on the Honeybees

August 9, 2009

Birds, bees, and bats continue to perish in great numbers around the world. These massive die offs affect not only their specific communities of life, but also our natural world and our food supply.

Our winged relatives weave essential threads through the whole of life as they carry pollen from plant to plant and cause the land to bloom. Their loss to earth is inestimable. The ongoing decline of pollinators is one form of global change that will alter the shape and structure of the land and our capacity to live upon it.

This recent report on the evolving status of the bees comes from writer Jodi Peterson at High Country News:

HBEE“It’s been more than two years since High Country News reported on the West’s  disappearing honeybees. Since then, parasitic  mites and a mysterious syndrome called colony collapse disorder have  killed off thousands more hives.

“Honeybees pollinate 80 percent of the  fruits and vegetables we eat, and many wild species essential to  ecosystems. In China, hive collapse has forced farmers to start  pollinating fruit trees by hand with brushes.

“Now, researchers at  Washington State University think they’ve figured out the major causes of  colony collapse disorder…”

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