Category: World Food Day
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:
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!
Over the past year The Seeds of Vandana Shiva project has evolved in numerous exciting ways and we are eager to tell you about it.
But first we must let you know we have just arrived in The Hague, Netherlands, where the permanent International Criminal Court prosecutes the gravest crimes of concern to the international community—genocide, war and crimes against humanity.
This weekend, from October 14th to 16th and coinciding with World Food Day on Sunday, five internationally respected judges will hear witnesses and experts from around the world at an historic People’s Tribunal against Monsanto. Over 800 organizations are supporting and participating in this event and we have been asked to film at the proceedings.
Despite growing global awareness and grassroots opposition, Monsanto has thus far avoided responsibility for the human and environmental damage caused by its products. By way of a systematic and powerful strategy that includes distributing false scientific studies and manipulating the press, the company continues to pursue and expand its destructive activities around the world.
You may already know that Bayer just bought Monsanto for $66 billion. And this is, in fact, not the only merger in process: ChemChina and Syngenta plan to merge. So do Dow Chemical and DuPont.
The agrochemical industry is already dominated by only 6 companies—Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow, Monsanto and DuPont—that control 60% of commercial seed and more than 75% of agrochemical markets. If all these mergers are approved, 4 corporations—whose business, let’s remember, is in poisons and pharmaceuticals—will have unprecedented power over our food supply.
This is why Monsanto is not the only focus of the Tribunal’s efforts. Multinational agribusiness that pollutes air, soil and water, destroys biodiversity, devastates communities and significantly contributes to climate change must—and will—one day be stopped. There are well documented and scientifically proven ecological ways to feed the world, restore health to the planet and mitigate climate change. This is what Dr. Vandana Shiva’s life of activism and our film is about.
Although the Tribunal will not have the power to enforce its judgment, observers believe the process will set an important precedent for the ICC to prosecute ecocide. In fact, last month the court issued a press release stating that it looks forward to prosecuting environmental crimes, including the destruction and exploitation of natural resources and the illegal dispossession of land. This is a new addition to the ICC mandate, which before focused exclusively on crimes against people.
The Monsanto Tribunal is a big deal and we are honored that the organizers have asked us to participate in this landmark event.
We’ll be posting to our Facebook page and Twitter account over the weekend, and for even more information—including a live stream of the action—see here and here.
On our return we can’t wait to write to you with our impressions. Also, look out for a forthcoming newsletter about what else we’ve been up to, including where we are with the film.
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.