Using Science to Save the Planet: An Interview with Dr. Vandana Shiva (In Hindi)
Earth-loving viewers, welcome to Good People, Good Works. Our show today features Dr. Vandana Shiva.
For more information about Dr. Vandana Shiva and Navdanya, please visit www.navdanya.org
A native of India, Dr. Shiva is a renowned environmentalist who has
been working tirelessly for years to help preserve our planetary home.
She has been internationally recognized for her eco-accomplishments,
including having received the Earth Day International Award from the
United Nations and the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the
“Alternative Nobel Prize.” She is also a best-selling author, with such
books to her name as “Soil Not Oil,” “Earth Democracy,” and “Staying
Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development.”
1987, Dr. Shiva, who is a vegetarian, started Navdanya, an organization
that promotes peace, harmony, justice and sustainability by seeking to
protect the biodiversity of our ecosphere. The organization’s mission
statement is as follows: “To protect nature and people's rights to
knowledge, biodiversity, water and food.”
In an interview with
Supreme Master Television in Delhi, India, Dr. Shiva shared her
perspectives on the significance of conservation through ecologically
sound farming practices.
Dr. Shiva (f):
I was originally a nuclear physicist and then a quantum physicist. But
for the last 35 years, I have dedicated my life to protecting the Earth.
Dr. Shiva (f):
[…]I started two institutions. First, a public interest research body
called The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology. I
wanted science to work for people and to work for protecting the
planet. So I created this independent ecological research body. In
1987, I started Navdanya which both means “nine seeds” as well as “the
new gift.” Nine seeds have a very deep cosmic significance in India
because they relate to planetary balance, growing nine crops in your
field and shows that you have biodiversity in your field, you’re
protecting the Earth. But the diversity of crops also means a
nutritional balance for our body. So all the way from the universe to
our bodies, it’s about harmony, peace and balance.
the past 29 years, Navdanya’s membership has grown to more than 70,000
farming families in thirteen Indian states. In Uttarakhand state alone,
60,000 farmers have converted to organic farming through the efforts of
Navdanya. To date, the Navdanya has trained over 200,000 farmers in
this method of agriculture. Through seed banks, Navdanya has conserved
over 2,000 indigenous varieties of rice, 50 types of native vegetables,
as well as many different kinds of tree species and medicinal plants.
Dr. Shiva (f):
I started to save seeds in 1987 through Navdanya, because I watched how
hundreds and thousands of our crop diversity was being destroyed for
chemical agriculture, for genetic engineering. I’ve watched how 200,000
varieties of rice that India used to have were reduced to a handful,
how the 1,500 varieties of wheat we used to have were reduced to one or
two grain varieties. Nowhere in the world do citizens want to eat
genetically engineered food with bacteria genes and viral genes and
cancer genes. Everyone wants healthy food that’s good for the mind and
good for our body. 2:55
Dr. Shiva (f):
I protect the diversity because I see us as one part of the Earth
family. These are our relatives. Plants, animals, microbes, they’re all
part of the large Earth family.
HOST: Climate change is a reality that affects all of us and immediate action is needed to mitigate its effects.
Dr. Shiva (f): The
calculations are there from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, that if the current trends continue, by about 2050, half of the
species of this planet will have disappeared. That’s a very, very large
extinction. Species are disappearing in the sea as the oceans get
warmer. As the oceans become more acidic, coral reefs are dying. I have
watched my own mango orchard killed by an extreme frost last winter. As
we get too little rain or too much rain, too much cold or too much
heat, biodiversity suffers. The planet, this magical planet, is the
planet it is with the life it has, because of the ability to regulate
the temperature within a certain balance. Our pollution is taking it
beyond that zone within which life can survive on this planet. And
climate change is of course a threat to the species of the planet. But
we are one among the species, we are threatening our own survival.
Our precious rainforests are being felled to raise crops, particularly
to feed cattle, with little thought being given to the ultimate
Dr. Shiva (f): It’s
being grown by cutting down the Amazon, it’s being grown by cutting
down the rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia. Not only is that
leading to emissions of about 18% because the forests as they’re
burned, they are creating additional greenhouse gases, but the biggest
problem is these are the lungs of the planet. These are the highest
sources of absorption of carbon dioxide. These [are] the regulators of
the climate’s temperature, rainfall, winds and climate patterns. And if
the Amazon goes, we will not have our lungs, we will not have our
liver, we will not have our heart. There is another way in which food
is connected to climate change. In my calculations, industrial
agriculture that is globalized is contributing to about 25% of climate
change. And in addition, it’s giving us bad food.
can only solve the food crisis by producing food sustainably, producing
food locally, and ensuring that people and democracy have control over
the food system.
Dr. Shiva (f): When
climate change is talked about, people usually only think of the gases
that are emitted from cars or power plants. But a large part of climate
change is related to the way we are growing food today. Industrial
food, food grown with chemical fertilizers that are derived from fossil
fuels, they use oil to produce. Then when they’re put in the soil, the
nitrogen oxide moves into the atmosphere and creates climate change,
because it’s 300 times more lethal than carbon dioxide. We are creating
climate change by our own farms. What this means is food now being
grown, it should not be grown.
HOST: Growing organic food has innumerable benefits for our Earth and betters the health of society.
Dr. Shiva (f): The
best food is food grown organically; the best food is food grown
locally, according to our tastes and our cultures; and the best food is
food grown without fossil fuels. If we were to move agriculture to
organic ecological farming, it’s the only way to grow food that is a
sacred input to into our sacred bodies. If we were to make that shift
to growing the kind of food that we deserve as human beings, we could
reduce climate change emissions by 25% while protecting the farmers,
while protecting biodiversity, and while protecting our health.
as they are currently grown, are extremely vulnerable to climate
change. Organic farming brings stability to the ecosystem.
Dr. Shiva (f): One
final issue about the links between food and climate change. Systems
that contribute to climate change are also more vulnerable to climate
change. If you get one storm, you can have a disruption of the entire
food supply. If you get one drought, if your soils are fertilized with
chemical fertilizers, they cannot withstand the drought. That’s why we
need biodiversity, that’s why we need organic farming, both to reduce
our impact on climate change and to be able to adapt to it better. But
the wonderful thing is, it simultaneously resolves the food
Dr. Shiva is very much in favor of traditional seeds and local foods.
She feels genetically modified organisms upset the balance of nature.
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a spore forming bacterium, the genes of
which have been introduced into such crops as corn, potato, and cotton
in the name of warding off insects.
Dr. Shiva (f): Bt
toxin is a toxin. A Bt toxin crop is not a higher yielding crop. It’s a
toxin-producing crop. Herbicide-resistant crops are resistant to
herbicides, therefore you can spray them with higher doses of
glyphosate. That’s more toxins in our farms, not more food. To date,
there is not a single GMO (genetically modified organism) that has
produced more food than comparative crops.
Dr. Shiva (f):Genetically
engineered seeds are not solving hunger. They are not bringing
prosperity to our farmers. And agriculture without GMOs is a peaceful
agriculture. GMO-free agriculture is a prosperous agriculture. GMO-free
agriculture is the only way humanity should move into the future.
HOST: The harmful effects of a meat-based diet on our environment and on other beings are enormous.
Dr. Shiva (f):
I am myself a vegetarian. I just think it is tastier. We know from all
the figures that eating less meat or eating no meat creates a smaller
footprint on the planet. Seventy percent of the food grain today is not
eaten by human beings, it’s eaten by factory animals. We would relieve
those factory animals from torture, and we would save that grain for
feeding the hungry.
Earth is very unique and the only planet we have. Awareness of its
current fragile state is key to making the right decisions to assure
the planet is here for future generations.
Dr. Shiva (f):
I think everyone of us has a role to play to protect the planet. We are
not separate from it. We are part of it. We are its children. We are
children of the Earth Mother, Terra Madre. In all our cultures, we have
seen the Earth as our mother that has nourished us. We need to remember
again that this mother, we have forgotten, neglected, abused, polluted,
is wanting our care, wanting our embrace, wanting our attention. Let’s
give her attention in everything we do, what food we eat, how we move
around, what cars we drive, how we live.
sincere thanks to Dr. Shiva for her ceaseless conservation work to
promote biodiversity, organic farming, and a cleaner environment. May
everyone on this planet always have enough to eat through sustainable
agriculture and a meat-free diet.
For more details on Dr. Vandana Shiva, her organization Navdanya and her publications, please visit: www.navdanya.org
Books by Dr. Vandana Shiva: Soil Not Oil Earth Democracy Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development Available at: www.navdanya.org