Category: Monsanto

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“Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy.” Vandana Shiva
 
Join us on Thursday July 21st when local groups will come together in Ojai to support both the Soil Not Oil International Campaign and the upcoming second annual Soil Not Oil Conference with an evening gathering of film and discussion. Camilla will be there sharing new excerpts from The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, and there will be other short films on soils and carbon farming.
 
An Evening Gathering to Support
The 2nd Annual Soil Not Oil Conference
Thursday July 21, 7.30PM
At The Farmer and The Cook, 339 W. El Roblar, Ojai, CA 93023
THIS IS A FREE EVENT
 
Our advisory board member Steve Sprinkel will be there, so will Margie Bushman & Wes Roe of Santa Barbara Permaculture Network, David White from Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Conor Love Jones of East End Eden Farm
 
Why are we supporting Soil Not Oil?
 
In 2015 the first Soil Not Oil Conference was held in Northern California in solidarity with the Soil Not Oil and Terra Viva Campaigns launched by Dr. Shiva, who was one of the first to make the connection between climate change and the disastrous soil practices of industrial agriculture.
 
Because our lives are entirely dependent on the health of our soils, Soil Not Oil and Terra Viva advocate for the care and regeneration of soils worldwide. These campaigns and the Soil Not Oil Coalition call for the extensive restructuring of land management practices, especially in agriculture.
 
Permaculture, agroecology and all regenerative agriculture practices are key to combating climate change, restoring water cycles, stopping ocean acidification, re-establishing biodiversity, improving food production, and revitalizing local economies across the planet.
 
What’s not to like?
 
As we face the possibility of only four more years of water in our valley, we know that rapidly accelerating human-caused climate change is an imminent global threat, including to us in Ojai. One clear thing to do is reverse our engagement in the fossil fuel food system, which not only pollutes ecosystems but is a huge driver of climate change. 
 
The Soil Not Oil Coalition’s call for integrated action to restore global soil quality is one of the key things we must do to ensure a safe and healthy world for generations to come. Here’s a little known fact: Just the first meter of soil contains as much carbon as the entire atmosphere, and there’s potential to soak up much more.
 
For more information on this event, please contact Margie.
 
See you at F&C,
 
Camilla Becket
Jim Becket
Jim Whitney

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Vandana Shiva will be in Ojai next week to headline our annual Earth Day at Oak Grove School!
 
If you are in the area, we can’t encourage you enough to attend this event.
 
Oak Grove is situated on a breathtakingly beautiful campus. What better way to spend a gorgeous Spring day but in Ojai, surrounded by wildflowers, ancient oaks, birds, bees and butterflies and a friendly crowd of change-makers doing their part to rejuvenate Mother Earth?
 
Many local organizations will have displays of their work; there’ll be activities for kids, a whole lot of music and fresh, local food.
 
Earth Day starts at 11.00am.
Dr. Shiva will speak at 2.30pm. Book Signing afterwards.
VANDANA SHIVA IN OJAI
 
Want to avoid parking snarl? The Ojai Trolley will be running for free that day so why not park your car near a trolley stop and be delivered to Earth Day in style? Better yet, ride your bike to campus. Oak Grove’s bike valet will take care of it for you and give you a free raffle ticket for a $3,000 value draw!
 
Vandana will also be at Pacifica Graduate Institute’s conference Climate of Change and the Therapy of Ideas while in the area (April 24) and at Soka University for Critical Conversations: The Future of the Planet on April 26.
 
We’ll be filming and taking notes at these events and will send you a brand new update about The Seeds of Vandana Shiva in a few weeks. Watch this space!

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We arrived to a Paris locked down and traumatized by the November 13 terror attacks. Tear gas still in the air from an illegal climate march. Draconian emergency measures banning any gathering of more than two persons with a “political message.”
 
And yet, ten days later at the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, we filmed tens of thousands who took to the streets in joyful demonstration for a commitment to climate action. The energy was electric. The police stood aside. Despite the State of Emergency, activists in Paris found a way to be heard. 
  
On that same day, December 12, 196 countries agreed to take steps to arrest the build up of greenhouse gasses disrupting the climate and causing extraordinary natural disasters.
 
Post-analysis puts the voluntary agreement somewhere between “a turning point in human history” and “too little too late.” At best there is greater hope that governments will stand up to polluting corporations and legislate measures to combat climate chaos.
 

Of course Vandana Shiva was front and center of the activities–giving speeches, meeting with government ministers, speaking at press conferences, fielding numerous interviews and even helping to plant an organic “garden of hope” in the city.

 
Here she is arriving at The Rights of Nature Tribunal, one of numerous powerful and packed-to-capacity gatherings she addressed on her back-to-back schedule in Paris.
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The doormat says The Solution is Under our Feet–a great piece of guerrilla art designed by Kiss The Ground, part of our Regeneration International crew, who also arranged to have the words The Soil Story beamed from the Eiffel Tower.

For the first time, at COP21, soil and agriculture was on everyone’s lips and food systems were acknowledged to be factors in climate change.
But just like Big Tobacco and Oil, Big Ag and Big Food are denying the extent of their culpability while proposing false solutions offering more of the same: seed patenting, loss of biodiversity, genetic engineering, toxic chemical inputs, expensive technologies, displacement of farmers and corporate control of our food supply.

Thankfully, in Paris Vandana and the team from Regeneration International clearly articulated their message of hope. Without resource heavy technologies, organic and fair traded food systems can sequester carbon out of the atmosphere and return it to the soil where it belongs.

Our video about her Navdanya farm and university, Welcome to Bija Vidyapeeth was screened at the  It’s Possible Forum at La Villette where she appeared with Rob Hopkins of the Transition Network and Paul Watson of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. This event centered on the change-making possibility of people power, an idea both celebrated and executed in Paris.

 
As Vandana made clear at the Forum, we can transition away from degenerative and predatory economies. It is not only imperative but also possible for we in the West do well with less.
 
In fact, regenerative gatherings against degenerative systems were numerous and happening all over Paris.

One particularly important event was the press conference held on December 3rd announcing an International Monsanto Tribunal scheduled for October 2016 in The Hague. Another was the Pathways to Paris Concert with Patti Smith, Flea, Thom Yorke, Tenzin Choegyal, Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibbon and Naomi Klein.

Now we are home and back to editing.

With all the filming done for this project, our equipment has taken a beating. Two of our cameras failed on this trip. First thing in the new year we hope to repair them while also preparing for post production. That means fundraising. However, by making a tax-deductible donation to this project right now, you could put your 2015 tax dollars to use. Thank you in advance for your support!

All the rewards still apply, including a free and early link to the film.
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Agroecology Climate Change Earth Democracy Monsanto News Organic Regeneration International Uncategorized Vandana Shiva Year of the Soil

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We have returned from our trip to India and are sorting through what we filmed.

We’re excited to do so, but first we want to report on our journey and let you know what we learned. Especially because today is World Food Day.

Every October 16 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations spearheads outreach and actions to eradicate hunger. This year’s theme, intersecting with the International Year of the Soil is “Social Protection and Agriculture.”

Not surprisingly, the inextricable link between soil, food systems and social justice was also a theme of our visit to India. On a Soil Pilgrimage led by Vandana Shiva (Navdanya), Ronnie Cummins (Organic Consumers Association), Andre Leu (IFOAM-International) and Will Allen (Sustainable Cotton Project), we filmed events with organic farmers, scientists and activists; at farms in the heart of the Bt cotton suicide belt; at Gandhi’s ashram on his birthday (a national holiday in India where the assembled pledged to make peace with the soil); and at Indore, where Sir Albert Howard (a founding father of the organic movement) learned organic methods from local Indian farmers and established a pioneering soil research lab.

One thing is clear: Healthy soil supports healthy crops, healthy farms, healthy consumers and healthy economies. It is also a solution to climate change.Why? Because the living soil draws carbon out of the atmosphere and sequesters it underground where it fuels food production.

Conversely, industrial agriculture disrupts the natural carbon cycle and actually depletes soil, along with its ability to sequester carbon. Worse, the industrial food system is responsible for more than 40% of climate disrupting carbon emissions.

Armed with solid research into the science of agriculture an exciting new project, Regeneration International, formed by Dr. Shiva and others also launches today. They are in Washington DC for an International Press Conference to promote regenerative agriculture as a solution to climate change.

Look down: The answer to hunger, poverty, ecological devastation and climate change is right under our feet.

With that thought in mind, we continue to edit our footage, including new interviews with Vandana’s son, sister, teachers, friends, her original publisher, Ronnie Cummins, Will Allen, Andre Leu and six inspiring young “seeds” of Vandana Shiva–farmers, artists, scientists and activists intent on regenerating a better world for us all.

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WITH YOUR SUPPORT WE MADE OUR GOAL. Yes! We leave for India on Sunday, where we will begin by interviewing Vandana’s childhood friends, teachers, and son.
We will also visit Gandhi’s Ashram and film gatherings of organic farmers atNavdanya and Indore (in Central India) where many say the modern organic movement began.
The story of the organic movement as we know it today has deep roots in India and actually features an Englishman. In 1905 an agricultural developer named Albert Howard–from Shropshire–was dispatched to the colony to teach Indian farmers how they should farm.
Instead, this Western scientist discovered that the indigenous farmers could teach him far more: He went on to famously document the benefits of organic agriculture for the Rodale Institute and other organizations, and is well known for stating that “the health of soil, plant, animal and man is indivisible.”
Howard advocated for agroecology long before the advent of GMOs and the corporate control of our food systems.
Today Indore is a center of food culture in India. With Dr. Shiva we’ll visit organic farmer’s markets, including the Sarafa Bazaar, a night market famous for its vegetarian street food.
Edible treats not withstanding, we see excellent footage ahead.
Thanks to our donors and Kickstarter backers, in Delhi we’ll film at the Bhoomi Festival, source archival material, and look for an artist to help us with animation and graphics:
Here’s a picture of the Hindu Goddess Durga in the Madhubani style of Indian art. Durga is the embodiment of the warrior woman: She tears down demons and difficulties to build anew. Many describe Vandana as a manifestation of Durga…an idea we explore with her in the film.

 The Kickstarter campaign ends this Saturday, September 19 and you can still pledge. Every dollar over and above our initial goal will go directly into the project and we have a wish list! You could be rewarded with any one of the following, which all make great gifts.

And more! See our Kickstarter page for other rewards.
In the meantime, we’re excited to be able to get back to the film. We’ll send out rewards as soon as we return!

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By the time you read this, we will be on the road to Northern California, where we’ll be attending two big events in support of The Seeds of Vandana Shiva.
We’ve already passed $20K with 16 days to go of our Kickstarter campaign. $10K more to raise–we think we can do it! A gentle reminder: We don’t get a penny unless we reach our goal. If you want to help us share the story of Vandana’s extraordinary journey to prominence, please pledge here now.
In fact on our Kickstarter page you will see that we’ve posted brand new rewards: Seed Savers Exchange has put up a full-fledged membership with extra benefits and The Omega Institute is offering registration (with meals and private accommodations) for their Seeds of Change Conference in mid October. Yes, Dr. Shiva will be there as well.
The moral support we continue to receive for The Seeds of Vandana Shiva has completely inspired us and we’re more than ready to get back to the film. And while we don’t want to short-change the priceless assistance of our brothers-in-arms throughout this campaign, it seems that the project resonates particularly strongly with women.
By way of example, last week this popular post on our Facebook page was shared widely and reached more than 43 thousand people.
The Organic Consumers Association posted about the project on Facebook this morning and instantly racked up more than 2,000 “likes.” We’re looking forward to meeting Director Ronnie Cummins at the Heirloom Seed Expo next week. If we reach our Kickstarter goal, we’ll be filming him with Vandana and other eco-activists on their Pilgrimage of the Soil in India soon.
 
But first we’ll be at the Soil not Oil Conference in Richmond, where we’ll screen our promotional reel before Dr. Shiva’s Keynote Address: Here’s the poster, which you can click through for more information.

 

We’ll be back to news about filmmaking soon!

 

Agroecology Climate Change Earth Democracy Industrial Agribusiness Monsanto News Organic Regeneration International Seed Freedom Uncategorized Vandana Shiva Year of the Soil

March 5th, 2015

Independent Science News
by Jonathan Latham Ph.D.

By conventional wisdom it is excellent news. Researchers from Iowa have shown that organic farming methods can yield almost as highly as pesticide-intensive methods. Other researchers, from Berkeley, California, have reached a similar conclusion. Indeed, both findings met with a very enthusiastic reception. The enthusiasm is appropriate, but only if one misses a deep and fundamental point: that even to participate in such a conversation is to fall into a carefully laid trap.

CornPile OverduebookSource: Overduebook

The strategic centrepiece of Monsanto’s PR, and also that of just about every major commercial participant in the industrialised food system, is to focus on the promotion of one single overarching idea. The big idea that industrial producers in the food system want you to believe is that only they can produce enough for the future population (Peekhaus 2010). Thus non-industrial systems of farming, such as all those which use agroecological methods, or SRI, or are localised and family-oriented, or which use organic methods, or non-GMO seeds, cannot feed the world.

To be sure, agribusiness has other PR strategies. Agribusiness is “pro-science”, its opponents are “anti-science”, and so on. But the main plank has for decades been to create a cast-iron moral framing around the need to produce more food (Stone and Glover 2011).

Therefore, if you go to the websites of Monsanto and Cargill and Syngenta and Bayer, and their bedfellows: the US Farm Bureau, the UK National Farmers Union, and the American Soybean Association, and CropLife International, or The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation,USAID, or the international research system (CGIAR), and now even NASA, they very early (if not instantaneously) raise the “urgent problem” of who will feed the expected global population of 9 or 10 billion in 2050.

Likewise, whenever these same organisations compose speeches or press releases, or videos, or make any pronouncement designed for policymakers or the populace, they devote precious space to the same urgent problem. It is even in their job advertisements. It is their Golden Fact and their universal calling card. And as far as neutrals are concerned it wins the food system debate hands down, because it says, if any other farming system cannot feed the world, it is irrelevant. Only agribusiness can do that.

The real food crisis is of overproduction
Yet this strategy has a disastrous foundational weakness. There is no global or regional shortage of food. There never has been and nor is there ever likely to be. India has a superabundance of food. South America is swamped in food. The US, Australia, New Zealand and Europe are swamped in food (e.g. Billen et al 2011). In Britain, like in many wealthy countries, nearly half of all row crop food production now goes to biofuels, which at bottom are an attempt to dispose of surplus agricultural products. China isn’t quite swamped but it still exports food (see Fig 1.); and it grows 30% of the world’s cotton. No foodpocalypse there either.

Of all the populous nations, Bangladesh comes closest to not being swamped in food. Its situation is complex. Its government says it is self-sufficient. The UN world Food Program says it is not, but the truth appears to be that Bangladeshi farmers do not produce the rice they could because prices are too low, because of persistent gluts (1).

Even some establishment institutions will occasionally admit that the food shortage concept – now and in any reasonably conceivable future – is bankrupt. According to experts consulted by the World Bank Institute there is already sufficient food production for 14 billion people – more food than will ever be needed. The Golden Fact of agribusiness is a lie.

Truth restoration
So, if the agribusiness PR experts are correct that food crisis fears are pivotal to their industry, then it follows that those who oppose the industrialization of food and agriculture should make dismantling that lie their top priority.

Anyone who wants a sustainable, pesticide-free, or non-GMO food future, or who wants to swim in a healthy river or lake again, or wants to avoid climate chaos, needs to know all this. Anyone who would like to rebuild the rural economy or who appreciates cultural, biological, or agricultural diversity of any meaningful kind should take every possible opportunity to point out the evidence that refutes it. Granaries are bulging, crops are being burned as biofuels or dumped, prices are low, farmers are abandoning farming for slums and cities, all because of massive oversupply. Anyone could also point out that probably the least important criterion for growing food, is how much it yields. Even just to acknowledge crop yield, as an issue for anyone other than the individual farmer, is to reinforce the framing of the industry they oppose.

The project to fully industrialise global food production is far from complete, yet already it is responsible for most deforestation, most marine pollution, most coral reef destruction, much of greenhouse gas emissions, most habitat loss, most of the degradation of streams and rivers, most food insecurity, most immigration, most water depletion, massive human health problems, and so on (Foley et al 2005; Foley et al 2011). Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that if the industrialisation of food is not reversed our planet will be made unlivable for multi-cellular organisms. Our planet is becoming literally uninhabitable solely as a result of the social and ecological consequences of industrialising agriculture. All these problems are without even mentioning the trillions of dollars in annual externalised costs and subsidies (Pretty et al. 2000).

So, if one were to devise a strategy for the food movement, it would be this. The public already knows (mostly) that pesticides are dangerous. They also know that organic food is higher quality, and is far more environmentally friendly. It knows that GMOs should be labeled, are largely untested, and may be harmful. That is why the leaders of most major countries, including China, dine on organic food. The immense scale of the problems created by industrial agriculture should, of course, be understood better, but the main facts are hardly in dispute.

But what industry understands, and the food movement does not, is that what prevents total rejection of bland, industrialised, pesticide-laden, GMO food is the standard acceptance, especially in Western countries, of the overarching agribusiness argument that such food isnecessary. It is necessary to feed the world.

But, if the food movement could show that famine is an empty threat then it would also have shown, by clear implication, that the chemical health risks and the ecological devastation that these technologies represent are what is unnecessary. The movement would have shown that pesticides and GMOs exist solely to extract profit from the food chain. They have no other purpose. Therefore, every project of the food movement should aim to spread the truth of oversupply, until mention of the Golden Fact invites ridicule and embarrassment rather than fear.

Divide and Confuse
Food campaigners might also consider that a strategy to combat the food scarcity myth can unite a potent mix of causes. Just as an understanding of food abundance destroys the argument for pesticide use and GMOs simultaneously, it also creates the potential for common ground within and between constituencies that do not currently associate much: health advocates, food system workers, climate campaigners, wildlife conservationists and international development campaigners. None of these constituencies inherently like chemical poisons, and they are hardly natural allies of agribusiness, but the pressure of the food crisis lie has driven many of them to ignore what could be the best solution to their mutual problems: small scale farming and pesticide-free agriculture. This is exactly what the companies intended.

So divisive has the Golden Fact been that some non-profits have entered into perverse partnerships with agribusiness and others support inadequate or positively fraudulent sustainability labels. Another consequence has been mass confusion over the observation that almost all the threats to the food supply (salinisation, water depletion, soil erosion, climate change and chemical pollution) come from the supposed solution–the industrialisation of food production. These contradictions are not real. When the smoke is blown away and the mirrors are taken down the choices within the food system become crystal clear. They fall broadly into two camps.

On the one side lie family farms and ecological methods. These support farmer and consumer health, resilience, financial and democratic independence, community, cultural and biological diversity, and long term sustainability. Opposing them is control of the food system by corporate agribusiness. Agribusiness domination leads invariantly to dependence, uniformity, poisoning and ecological degradation, inequality, land grabbing, and, not so far off, to climate chaos.

One is a vision, the other is a nightmare: in every single case where industrial agriculture is implemented it leaves landscapes progressively emptier of life. Eventually, the soil turns either into mud that washes into the rivers or into dust that blows away on the wind. Industrial agriculture has no long term future; it is ecological suicide. But for obvious reasons those who profit from it cannot allow all this to become broadly understood.  That is why the food scarcity lie is so fundamental to them. They absolutely depend on it, since it alone can camouflage the simplicity of the underlying issues.

Reverse PR?
Despite all this, the food and environmental movements have never seriously contested the reality of a food crisis. Perhaps that is because it is a narrative with a long history. As early as the 1940s the chemical and oil industries sent the Rockefeller Foundation to Mexico to “fix” agriculture there. Despite evidence to the contrary, the Rockefeller scientists derived a now-familiar narrative: Mexican agriculture was obviously gripped by a production deficit that could be fixed by “modern” agribusiness products (The Hungry World, 2010). This story later became the uncontested “truth” that legitimised the green revolution and still propels the proliferation of pesticides, fertilizers, GMOs and other agribusiness methods into every part of the globe.

Yet in the age of the internet it is no longer necessary to let an industry decide where the truth resides. It is possible to restore reality to the global discussion about food so that all potential production methods can have their merits fairly evaluated (IAASTD, 2007). Until this is done agribusiness and chemical industry solutions will always be the default winner, alternative agriculture will always be alternative, if it exists at all.

The evidence with which to contradict the lie is everywhere; but in an unequal and unjust system truth never speaks for itself. It is a specific task that requires a refusal to be intimidated by the torrents of official misinformation and a willingness to unembed oneself from the intellectual web of industry thinking. (That will often mean ordinary people acting alone.)

The task requires two things; the first is familiarity with the basic facts of the food system. Good starting points (apart from the links in this article) are Good Food for Everyone Forever by Colin Tudge or World Hunger: Twelve Myths by Joseph Collins, Peter Rosset and Frances Moore Lappe.

Power, lies, and consent
The second requirement is a shift in perception. The shift is to move beyond considering only physical goals, such as saving individual species, or specific political achievements, and to move towards considering the significance of the underlying mental state of the citizenry.

Companies and industries pay huge sums of money for public relations (PR). PR is predicated on the idea that all human behaviour is governed by belief systems. PR is therefore the discovery of the structure of those belief systems, mainly through focus groups, and the subsequent manipulation of those belief structures with respect to particular products or other goals.

Thus human reasoning, which asks questions like: Is it fair? What will the neighbours think? can be accessed and diverted to make individuals and groups act often against their own self-interests. Two important general rules are that it works best when people don’t know they are being influenced, and that it comes best from a “friendly” source. PR is therefore always concealed which creates the widespread misunderstanding that it is rare or ineffective.

Anyone who desires social change on a significant scale should seek to understand this, and its corollary, that the food crisis lie is far from the only lie. As philosopher Michel Foucault documented for madness and also criminality, many assertions constituting supposed “reality” are best understood as establishment fabrications. Those described by Foucault mostly have deep historical roots; but others, such as the genetic origin of disease, or the validity of animal experiments, are untruths of recent origin. The function of these fabrications is always social control. As Edward Bernays, the father of modern PR, long ago wrote:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

The possibility of manipulating habits and opinions, which he also called “the engineering of consent” was not an idle boast.

Foucault, who was concerned mostly with the power held by governments, considered that the fabrications he had identified were not conspiracies. They were emergent properties of power. Power and knowledge grow together in an intertwined and mutually supportive fashion. He argued that knowledge creates power but is also deferential to power and so is deformed by it. An example is when US newspapers decline to use the word “torture” for when torture is used by the US government. These newspapers and the US government are together doing what Foucault theorised. The US government gets to torture and gains power in the process while the public is simultaneously deceived and disempowered. In this way the preferred language of the powerful has historically and continuously evolved into the established public truth, to the disadvantage of the people.

Bernays, however, worked mainly for corporations. He knew, since some of them were his own ideas, that many of the more recent fabrications were not emergent properties but were intentionally planted.

The essential point, however, is to appreciate not only that companies and others deliberately engineer social change; but also that when they do so it begins with the reordering of the “reality” perceived by the people. The companies first create a reality (such as Mexican hunger) for which their desired change seems to the people either obvious, or beneficial, or natural. When it comes, the people therefore do not resist the solution, many welcome it.

The structure of “reality”
Dictators and revolutionaries provide an interesting lesson in this. The successful ones have achieved sometimes extraordinary power. As always, they have done so first by changing the opinions of the people. The dictator, like any corporation, must make the people want them. As a general rule, dictators do this by creating new and more compelling false realities on top of older ones.

Hitler, to take a familiar example, harnessed a newly synthesised idea (German nationalism) to a baseless scientific theory (of racial genetics) and welded this to pre-existing “realities” of elitism and impugned manhood (the loss of WWI). These ideas were instrumental in his rise to power. But the important lesson for social change is that none of the ideas used by him possessed (now or then) any objective or empirical reality. They were all fabrications. It is true Hitler also had secret money, bodyguards, and so on, but so did others. Only Hitler found the appropriate combination of concepts able to colonise the minds of enough German people.

But Hitler is not known now for being just another leader of Germany. He is infamous for two events, the holocaust and World War II. The same lessons apply. Millions fought and died for almost a decade in a struggle to assert ideas that could have been destroyed by the intellectual equivalent of a feather. But that is how powerful ideas are.

The lies told in more democratic societies are not so very different to those used by Hitler in the sense that the important ones have predictable properties that can be categorised and sorted. What the food scarcity lie has in common with Hitler’s use of race, and with myths of nationalism, or of modern terrorism, and many others, is the creation of a threat, in this case of famine and possible social breakdown. The creation of an internal or external threat is thus the first category of lies.

The second category recognises the necessity of “efficient government”. No government can issue direct and separate orders to all the people all the time. Nor can it possess the resources for physical enforcement of those orders. It must therefore find ways to cause the people to govern, order, and regiment themselves, in exquisite detail. Therefore, governments supply and support guiding principles in the form of artificial unifying aspirations, such as “progress” or “civilisation”. Typically, they also strongly encourage the desirability of being “normal”; and especially they reinforce elitism (follow the leader), and so on.

Another structural category follows from the recognition that the effective operation of power over others, unless it is based on pure physical force or intimidation, usually requires an authoritative source of ostensibly unbiased knowledge. The population must be “convinced” by an unimpeachable third party. This function is typically fulfilled by either organised religion or by organised science. Scientific or religious institutions thus legitimate the ideas (progress, hierarchy, normality, inequality, etc.) of the rulers. These sources conceal the use of power because they combine the appearance of authority, independence and disinterestedness. These qualities are all or partly fictions.

Another category are fabrications intended to foster dependence on the state and the formal economy. These aim to undermine the ancient dependence of individuals on the land and each other, and transfer that dependence to the state. Thus the worship of competition,the exaggeration of gender differences, and genetic determinism (the theory that your health, personality, and success derive only from within) are examples of fabrications that sow enmity and isolation among the population.

Another important category, which include the myths of papal infallibility, or scientific and journalistic objectivity, exist to reinforce the power of authority itself. These fabrications act to bolster the influence of other myths.

The above list is not exhaustive, but it serves to introduce the idea that the organising of detailed control over populations of millions, achieved mostly without resorting to any physical force, requires the establishing and perpetual reinforcement of multiple interlocking untruths. This itself has important implications.

The first and most important implication is that if the lies and fabrications exist to concentrate and exercise power over others (and then conceal its use), then it also follows that genuinely beneficial and humanitarian goals such as harmony, justice, and equity, require retrieval of the truthand the goals will follow naturally from that retrieval.

The task of anyone who wants harmony, justice, peace, etc to prevail therefore becomes primarily to free the people from believing in lies and thus allowing them to attain mastery over their own minds. At that point they will know their own true needs and desires; they will no longer “want” to be oppressed or exploited.

The second implication of this entwining of knowledge with power is that, when properly understood, goals of harmony, understanding, health, diversity, justice, sustainability, opportunity, etc., are not contradictory or mutually exclusive. Rather, they are necessarily interconnected.

The third implication is that an empire built on lies is much more vulnerable than it seems. It can rapidly unravel.

Given that resources are limited, the problems of achieving broad social justice, of providing for the people, and of restoring environmental harms consequently become that of discerning which of the lies (since there are many) are most in need of exposing; and perhaps in what order.

Conclusion
Thus the necessary shift in perception is to see that, as in most wars, the crucial struggle in the food war is the one inside people’s heads. And that the great food war will be won by the side that understands that and uses it best.

This food war can be won by either side. The natural advantages of the grassroots in this realm are many. They include the power of the internet–which represents a historic opportunity to connect with others; second, that it takes a lot less effort to assert the truth than it does to build a lie-many people only need to hear the truth once; and thirdly, that in this particular battle the non-profit public-interest side doesn’t necessarily need a bigger megaphone because, unlike the industry, they are (broadly) trusted by the public.

Consequently, it is perfectly possible that a lie that took several powerful industries many decades to build up could be dismantled in months. It is necessary only to unleash the power of the truth and to constantly remember the hidden power of the people: that all the effort industries put into misleading them is an accurate acknowledgement of the potential of that power.

There are many writers and NGOs, such as Pesticides Action Network, IATP, the EWG, the Organic Consumers Association, the Center for Food Safety, and others, who are aligned with the grassroots, and who are doing a good and necessary job of explaining the problems and costs of industrial agriculture. But these arguments have so far proven inadequate. Agribusiness knows why that is.

But by combining these arguments with a refutation of the food crisis they can help destroy the industrial model of agriculture forever. And when that happens many of our worst global problems, from climate change and rainforest destruction down, will become either manageable or even negligible.

It is all in the mind.

Footnotes
(1) Thanks to Prof J Duxbury, Cornell University.

References
Billen et al (2011) Localising the Nitrogen Imprint of the Paris Food Supply: the Potential of Organic Farming and Changes in Human Diet. Biogeosciences Discuss 8: 10979-11002.

Cullather, N. (2010) The Hungry World: America’s Cold War Battle against Poverty in Asia (Harvard)

Foley et al (2005) Global Consequences of Land use. Science309: 570.

Foley et al (2011) Solutions for a cultivated planet.Nature 478: 337–342.

Peekhaus W. (2010) Monsanto Discovers New Social Media.International Journal of Communication 4: 955–976.

Pretty J. et al., (2000) An Assessment of the Total External Costs of UK Agriculture Agricultural Systems65: 113-136.

Stone GD and Glover D. (2011) Genetically modified crops and the ‘food crisis’: discourse and material impactsDevelopment in Practice 21: DOI: 10.1080/09614524.2011.562876

Agroecology Climate Change Earth Democracy Industrial Agribusiness Monsanto News Organic Regeneration International Seed Freedom Vandana Shiva

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Since we returned from filming at the People’s Climate March in September, we’ve been tracking Vandana Shiva’s schedule from then until now.

Holy Moly: She’s visited upward of fourteen cities in North America and made multiple appearances to capacity crowds. We caught up with her in Canada (for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas (thank you Beyond Pesticides for supporting our trip), in Los Angeles with a hip crowd at UCLA’s Hammer Museum, and most recently in San Francisco at the Earth at Risk Conference produced by the radical and feisty Fertile Ground Institute.

The crowds that Vandana attracts are diverse. But they are unified in their commitment to a just and ecologically sustainable world. Vandana talks about this vision–what she calls Earth Democracy–in this short clip: The Seattle reference points to the 1992 WTO meetings, where Dr. Shiva and others spoke out about the spreading power of multinational corporations–not only in America but all over the globe.

What better time to imagine a more just and desirable world than during the Holiday Season as we look forward to a New Year? In the past three months we’ve felt privileged to be around so many energized individuals dedicated to creating a healthier planet. Judging by these folks, environmental activism is alive and well, life affirming and inspiring. We’d recommend it!

Do we sound like a fan club? No, we’re a film. Hopefully a good one, because this film has an incredible story to tell. Creatively, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva is firmly on track and when we’re not filming we’re reviewing and organizing all our film footage. Editing a video required for submission to foundations and sponsors for funding begins in earnest next month.

The success of the movement for a just and sustainable food system–of which we like to think The Seeds of Vandana Shiva will play a small part–depends on creating and empowering networks for change. For us, in our way, that means relationships and partnerships with others who care about sharing this story. So if you, or anyone you know is interested in collaborating with us–we’re talking website, social media, marketing, editing, even fundraising–get in touch with us here.

In the meantime, we wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous and earth friendly 2015!

P.S: Here’s a three minute video we made about the A-Z of Agroecology Course that we attended while filming and interviewing Vandana in September. Yes, the filming trip made possible by our generous donors! There is a still a LOT to do on this project and you can still make a tax-deductible donation in 2014. Click here for details!

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We’re up to nearly 15K of 20K needed in our first ever crowd-sourced fund raising campaign. What a ride it has been! Thank you everyone who has contributed. And thank you in advance to all you kind people who will donate now.

All we need are a few more generous souls to push us to the top, and it’s off to India to collect some stellar footage for what we anticipate will be a great film. We’ve got enough for our tickets, cameras and lodging, but we still need to finance some extra travel to key sites essential to the story and various bits of equipment.

A lot of people want to see this movie! Foodies, farmers, fellow film-makers…so many people have been extremely encouraging and we’re feeling quite blessed. Vandana’s work is so important, and her life story so intriguing, that many have also stepped up to help us in kind–with connections, expertise, even support at the home base when we are away. All of it is important to the film, and we thank you all.

Here’s a short clip of Vandana talking about how she, in 1987, discovered the bio-tech industry’s plans to patent life forms for profit. The “Mira” she refers to is her sister, a public health physician currently working in Delhi.

Our new documentary tells the remarkable story of agro-ecologist Dr. Vandana Shiva, how she stood up to the corporate Goliaths of chemical agribusiness, rose to prominence in the environmental movement, and inspired an international movement for change.

Industrial Agribusiness Monsanto Seed Freedom Vandana Shiva

Indian Women Farmers Front of Card copy

Vandana Shiva is a brilliant scientist and environmental activist at the center of an epic battle over the world’s food system. The fight is between industrial, chemically dependent agriculture (in cahoots with “Big Food”) and ecologically sustainable farming that supports the health of the planet and the wellbeing of all people.

Dr. Shiva is known as Monsanto’s worst nightmare as well as a rock star of the sustainable food movement. But outside of the world of environmental activism, she’s relatively unknown. This despite the fact that she has proven definitively that organic agriculture produces higher yields and greater nutrition at a much lower cost than toxic chemical agriculture.

The Seeds of Vandana Shiva will clarify the issues at stake through the lens of Vandana’s extraordinary life story. Today, there is enormous corporate investment in spin to discredit her, with claims that industrial agriculture is not only healthy, but the only viable means for “feeding the world.” However, this inspiring woman’s fight for seed freedom and democracy against seed monopolies and the rule of multinational corporations will tell the true story.

We can still tip the balance in this David vs. Goliath battle before us. With The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, we are blessed with a story of Gandhian proportions that we hope will appeal to a broad audience and, importantly, inspire viewers to action.

Agroecology Bija Vidyapeeth India Industrial Agribusiness Monsanto Navdanya Seed Freedom Vandana Shiva