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Vandana ShivaIf you have not heard of Vandana Shiva, you must know that she is one of the most influential people in India right now. She is a scientist – a physicist inspired by Einstein, a feminist,  an ecologist and an author of more than 20 books. She is amazingly brilliant. I just listened to her talking with Bill Moyers and wow! how she explains the problem with genetically modified seeds. After reading this and/or watching, you will definitely VOTE YES on 522!

Shiva founded a movement in India to promote native seeds. She links genetic tinkering to problems in our ecology, economy, and humanity, and sees this as the latest battleground in the war on Planet Earth. It was an eye opening discussion. Watch it here.

Bill Moyers asks her about genetically modified seeds being necessary to prevent starvation in poor countries as they double and triple productivity, Vandana says this is wrong and explains why. Here is that conversation:

“BILL MOYERS: Now Vandana, the other side of the argument is made by people like Bill Gates. Bill Gates says that genetically modified seeds are necessary to prevent starvation in poor countries because they enable farmers to double and triple their productivity.

VANDANA SHIVA: Unfortunately, he’s so totally wrong on this assumption that genetically modified seeds produce more. In India, Monsanto came in with a claim of 1,500 kilograms of cotton per acre with their genetically engineered cotton. The average yields are 400 kilograms. Our studies show that. The government studies confirm this.

When you grow just genetically modified cotton, you destroy all the associate crops that were feeding the poor families. So it actually leads to less food. When you spray roundup and kill the greens that are necessary for women to have iron, for children to have vitamin A, you’re creating hunger. You’re creating disease.

Super weeds taking over your fields are a recipe for hunger. Pests overtaking your fields are a recipe for hunger. But worse, seed, patents are a way of getting money out of poor people. This is not a solution to hunger and poverty. This is aggravating the crisis poor people already face.”

She also says,

“The reason you have a few families joining the ten richest billionaires of the world in the Forbes list is because they’ve grabbed the land, the electricity, the resources, the oil, and that is what has left the other India poorer. It wasn’t that the other India was left out. They’ve been pushed out. And that’s why while we have some of the highest growth rates in the conventional measure of economic progress, which in my view is not a very reliable measure, we also have two of the most outrageous indicators that are linked to that model. The first is the quarter million farm suicides. If a quarter million farm–

BILL MOYERS: Those have been documented?

VANDANA SHIVA: They’re documented. This is Government of India data. This is not our data. It’s official statistics. And you can do an overlay. And the highest rates of suicides are in the cotton belt, 95 percent of the cotton today is Monsanto’s cotton. So there is a link. Today ever fourth Indian is hungry and every second Indian child is wasted or stunted, which in effect means that half of India is being robbed of its future. And to me, this is not acceptable. That is why we try and build a kind of agriculture that allows farmers to have a livelihood, for the poorest child or the poorest household to have nutritious food. It is not easy because the whole system is weighed against alternatives that would work for everyone.

It’s partly because of the pressure of the corporations, but partly because of not thinking, of just being blind, of having been so fed by what I have called monocultures of the mind, you know, just turning to recipes from somewhere else. And of course the chemical industry will tell you only chemicals grow food. Chemicals grow toxics. Chemicals don’t grow food.”

That only Monsanto seeds will be able to remove hunger. And all of this new mythology becomes part of the policy framework. But I am deeply committed to make sure that this terrible brainwashing that is robbing our present generation and our future generations, that we are able to work collectively to change it.”

And here is Jane Goodall talking sharing her wisdom on genetic engineering supporting I-522.

Are you voting YES on 522? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.

photo by: samirluther
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