In September 2014, filming for our documentary, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, we spent a few weeks with Dr. Shiva in Northern India. She was on her farm, Navdanya, for the annual A-Z of Agroecology Course which takes place from September 1 to September 31 each year. One day we checked in with several of the participants, who share their thoughts about the A-Z Course in this clip.
What does a bullock have to do with The Seeds of Vandana Shiva?
Quite a bit it turns out…
We just spent two weeks with Vandana on her farm in Northern India. While conducting interviews and collecting footage for the film, we also joined a diverse group of students from all over the world–and all over India–there to attend a month long A-Z intensive on agro ecology and organic food systems.
Little wonder cattle are revered in India. On small farms they provide manure for fertilizer, muscle power to till fields, along with milk for the family and to sell to the community. Their dung is also used for fuel and in the construction of buildings. Who needs to buy gas guzzling tractors or toxic chemical inputs when this placid guy can give you so much?
There are so many fascinating things to learn about the web of life and how–with cooperation, not domination–it can sustain us. Though we enjoyed sneaking in to the lectures and talks, we also spent many hours with Vandana herself, exploring a gamut of topics, ranging from her introduction to indigenous spirituality by the tribal women of the Himalayas to her role in the 1999 “Battle of Seattle” protests against the WTO.
Speaking of spirituality, Jim Becket and Jim Whitney just spent several days with her in New York City where they filmed at the Religions of the Earth Conference at Union Theological Seminary and at the People’s Climate March, the largest climate change protest in history. Focused on talks scheduled to take place at the United Nations this week, more than 1,500 organizations took part in the New York demonstrations, with satellite events all over the world.
Since more than 40% of greenhouse gases can be attributed to industrial agriculture, Vandana has been a long time promoter of agro-ecology as a viable antidote. Here’s a clip from a discussion we had with her last week. The treaty she refers to is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that was negotiated at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
Of course we would not have these comments on film without your support! So again, we must thank all of you who contributed to our seed fund campaign. Our filming trip to India was a huge success, and we can’t wait to go through our reams of footage to begin the (long) process of putting together the film. By the way, we also collected seeds, spices, and hand woven cotton stoles while we were in India, which we will distribute, as promised, to our valued donors.
We’re getting ready to leave for India!
And we’re thinking about Thank You Gifts for our generous donors. Please expect them towards the end of September, when we get back.
As you know, we are traveling to India to film for our new documentary, The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, which tells the remarkable life story of eco activist 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.
You can still make a tax-deductible donation towards production costs for this project!
Our next step is to create a fundraising video to help us secure foundation funding to complete a full-length version of this important film.
Here’s Vandana on Mechanical Science versus Indigenous Knowledge:
Some background: When she was researching her book about women and ecology, Staying Alive (first published in 1989), Vandana began to look at science in a new way. The Neem Tree she mentions in this clip is indigenous to India, and has been used for centuries in Indian medicine and agriculture. In 2000 the European Patent Office revoked a patent on Neem for pesticide use that had been granted to the U.S. based W. R. Grace Corporation, ruling that the patent amounted to bio-piracy. Vandana’s activism was key to the ruling.
As to her own scientific credentials, as a child Vandana was considered a science prodigy, and received important science scholarships throughout her education. She earned her first degree in Particle Physics at the University of Chandigarh, and her PhD in the Philosophy of Quantum Theory from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Before founding her Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, she did interdisciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy at the Indian Institute for Science. There’ll be more on her scientific career in the film!
Again, deep appreciation and thanks to our donors. Don’t forget to select your Thank You Gifts. We’ll be back in touch when we get back from India.
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.
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.