Category: <span>Crimes Against Nature</span>

In numerous traditions of indigenous thought, the sharing of food is treated as ceremony.

Each ritual reflects the understanding that giving and receiving is a sacred transaction. You give and receive in appreciation of your interdependence with others—not only with your family and community but also with the farmer, the food provider and the vast non-human family that populates Earth.

Every bird, every bug, every microscopic microbe—every living organism interconnects in the great web of life.

As school students we learn that all life is made of the same basic elements—earth, water, air—yet as adults we tend to forget it. But the facts are the facts: We drink water that circulates throughout the whole biosphere. The oxygen exhaled by the rainforest becomes our own breath. The food produced by the seed and the soil builds up our bodies and keeps them alive. We are one with the earth.

If it sounds like spirituality, it is. But it is also science and—more than ever now—politics.

Before The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, we made a series of short documentaries based on symposia that brought together scientists, environmentalists, religious leaders and policymakers to share research on the world’s besieged water bodies. It was during this period that we met Dr. Shiva and decided to document her remarkable life. 

Here, on the occasion of her Sydney Peace Prize Award in 2010, this scientist (M.Sc. in Nuclear Physics, Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Quantum Theory) talks about Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, a concept in Hinduism that describes the world as a single earth family.

It is this “big picture” perspective that makes The Seeds of Vandana Shiva project more than just a documentary film. Along with numerous partners, our goal is to share it with organizations around the world for education and outreach—including to public officials who can influence policy towards a more ecologically sensitive world.

Did we tell you that Patagonia gave us a grant to support distribution? Thank you, Patagonia, along with your in-kind sponsorship through Patagonia Action Works, which will help us to launch!

Namaste!

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While Dr. Vandana Shiva is best known as an advocate for seed saving and small-scale organic food and farming, her work is more broadly to do with natural—let’s say quantum—interconnections. In our last newsletter we talked about the relationship between food and forests and we want to continue with that. Why? Because, in January, a neo-fascist will take control of the Amazon rainforest. And this is very bad news. 

Every climate defying and ecologically destructive decision Brazil’s President-Elect makes will impact us all. The Amazon provides ecological services not only to Brazil but to the whole planet. First, it plays a central role in filtering and reprocessing the world’s carbon output: The rich forest material sucks in planetary carbon emissions and releases much-needed oxygen into the air. Second, through evapotranspiration, the Amazon supplies water to rivers, vapor to rain clouds and even goes so far as to stimulate the world’s ocean currents. Think of the Amazon as the giant lungs of the planet. 

Jair Bolsonaro bemoans rainforest protections as obstructions, intends to convert his country’s forests into cattle and soybean farms, looks likely to exit the Paris Climate agreement and just canceled Brazil’s commitment to host COP25 in 2019. 

Even that hurts. In association with Regeneration International and a number of Brazilian NGOs, we were planning to show The Seeds of Vandana Shiva in Sao Paulo during the UN Climate Talks, along with a teach-in about how organic and regenerative food systems can mitigate climate change and feed the world.

Here’s a film by the brilliant filmmaker Yann Arthus-Bertrand that beautifully illustrates how forests are critical to planetary well-being. We’re honored that his Good Planet Foundation is donating aerial footage to The Seeds of Vandana Shiva. It’s a huge gift and we’re humbled by his support for the film.
And we are grateful for your support! Thank you to everyone who has donated so far. Most of your (tax-deductible!) gifts will go to our archives bill. Though Mr. Bertrand is not the only filmmaker that has donated footage (shout-outs coming) there are other expensive but important clips we must buy for the film. Did you know that TV Networks charge for their clips by the second?
 
Thank you for helping us to reach the finish line.

Finally, if we do anything in 2019, let’s resist, with our Brazilian counterparts, Bolsonaro’s destructive initiatives. They are us and we are them. We are connected.

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 Last year in India we filmed several intense planning sessions between Vandana Shiva and key members of the food justice movement about their vision for an International Tribunal against Monsanto.
 
Exactly a year later, on October 15 and 16 (World Food Day) those plans came to fruition. More than a thousand witnesses, journalists and activists participated in a historically significant People’s Tribunal that charged Monsanto and agri-business with crimes against people and the environment.
 
Expert witnesses came from across the planet, from five continents and from both industrialized and developing nations. We were there too.
Of course there was plenty of disturbing and heartbreaking evidence of Monsanto’s transgressions; pollution, deforestation, biopiracy, land grabbing, harassment of independent scientists and nefarious political lobbying to name a few. There was also clear testimony about the impacts of agricultural poisons on creatures and people.
 
The chair of the trial was Judge Françoise Tulkens, former Vice President of the European Court of Human Rights. Click through for a short video of her perspective in the closing comments:
 
judge-tulkens-closing-comments-at-monsanto-tribunal
 
Fortunately, the litany of Monsanto’s offenses was offset by the lively People’s Assembly that took place in tandem with the Tribunal. At this event, 500 stakeholders, representing more than 1,000 signatory organizations, crafted an empowering message of hope.
 
Together they pledged to collaborate on growing democratic, healthy, and ecological food chains to mitigate environmental destruction, hunger and climate change. 5-10 percent of all agricultural producers are already practicing regenerative techniques, and there are millions of conscious consumers choosing organic, humane and fair traded products instead of the junk that Big Food produces.
 
The Monsanto Tribunal marked a fitting end of two years of filming for The Seeds of Vandana Shiva.
 
We’ve followed Vandana to many places in the world and we have talked at length to her, and others, about her life. It has been a mind-blowing and supremely educational ride and we look forward to sharing the completed film with you.
 
Our editors have just finished a first cut; now we are knuckling down to the next round of editing and post production. We’ll let you know how we progress; in the meantime, look out for an email coming November 7. We have a very important question to ask you!

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