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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
You will likely know by now that the large peoples’ marches—which would have drawn tens of thousands calling for action on climate change–have been banned following the November 13 attacks. This is a tragic set back for those who face the worst impacts of climate chaos yet are barely represented in the official negotiations. Their voices are usually best heard in the streets.
French authorities have arrested several climate activists under an emergency ruling against meetings of more than two people promoting a “political message.” But holiday shopping and sports games can go on.
None of this is stopping numerous activities happening outside of the official talks. And while our world leaders focus–as usual–on emissions reductions and market solutions, we’ll be with a contingent of organizations bringing to Paris a message of hope.
Here it is: The solution to global warming lies under our feet. Properly managed, healthy soils can cool the planet and feed the world.
We need to transition away from industrial agricultural practices–that contribute almost half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions–to ecological practices that regenerate the soil’s capacity to take in excess carbon and produce healthy food.
The choice between agro-ecology and agro-industry–at the heart of a growing global movement including Vandana’s work–is absolutely key to the issue of climate change.
Food systems also play a significant part in human rights, social disruption and war.
In 1984, Vandana was awakened to the high human cost of industrial agriculture when 30,000 people lost their lives in the Punjab, one of India’s most fertile states. Sent to study the roots of the conflict by United Nations University, she discovered the following: Though the Green Revolution was sold to India as a means to prosperity, the new agriculture actually created a cycle of debt. First, chemical agriculture depleted soil fertility and overused water. Second, with increasing amounts of expensive inputs required–fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides–food production shifted into the hands of industrialists. Punjab’s small farmers were pushed off their land into poverty.
As desperate farmers became increasingly squeezed, they rose up in protest. The government responded by sending the army into a sacred Sikh temple. Soon afterwards, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed. And so the tragic cycle of violence began.
In Syria, a massive drought between 2006 and 2009–powered by climate change–was compounded by similarly misguided agricultural policies. This contributed to the crisis of displacement and terror playing out now.
Back home, our editors will be completing the first cut of Dr. Shiva’s life story of activism!
We’ll send an update when we return from Paris in a few weeks. In the meantime, follow us on Facebook and Twitter where we will be posting news when we can!
Follow social media updates from Seed Freedom and Regeneration International too. And if you are moved to post about the intersection between our food choices and climate change, and even war, feel free to use the following hashtags: #RegenerativeAg #SoilNotOil #SeedsOfVandana #COP21.
P.S: Cinematographer Loreto di Cesare took the pic on our banner. He filmed with us in at Navdanya in 2014 and just completed a new doc himself, featuring Vandana. Revolution: Food. Check it out!
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.