Become campaigners for good eating: Vandana Shiva
Here is a person who wants no harming of the Earth and modern agriculture and modern science are anathema to her. A person who describes that Ayurveda is a deep philosophy of food and want to use it to counter the false claims of multinational companies. She advocates for the well being of the ordinary people and wants to put the Earth and people first by pushing back everything behind. She has come all the way to Kozhikode to take part in the 5-day Global Ayurveda festival in Kozhikode. This is Vandana Shiva, a name associated with living resources, social justice, protection of mankind and above all a person who has sown the seeds of truth.
After presenting her paper at the Global Ayurveda festival, Mathrubhumi English caught up for a few minutes with Vandana Shiva, in a freewheeling interview, during her luncheon where she was particular not to taste the soyabean fry served to her by Mathrubhumi canteen staff saying it had anti-nutritional values.
A lady who feels cultivation of pest seeds is the cause of hundreds of thousands of farmer suicides in India. Her organization Navdanya is a national movement to protect diversity and integrity of living resources and oppose what she calls colonization of life itself under the intellectual property and patent laws of the WTO.
Will the global Ayurveda conference in Kozhikode create a resurgence of the traditional healthcare and how would it inspire us to move positively into the future
Allopathic medicine is based on reductionist mechanism philosophy which is outmoded. 200 years of wrong thinking, that's how I call it. Everyone realises now that 75 percent diseases are due to bad food. We should not allow Ayurveda to be reduced to spa, massaging places, etc. It should cover food. Use Ayurveda to counter false claims made by MNCs.
20 years back they spoke rubbish about coconuts. Now it's proven.
Corporations pay journals to make false claims. I know this in the field of GMOs. The same companies control food sector, chemical sector, pharmaceutical sector. Basically we need to reclaim our food through ayurvedic philosophy. We should get off junk food, get off GMO food and Ayurveda has 5000 years of details of healthy food. The kind of food you grow and produce must protect people's health. Ayurveda is science of life and if food is medicine then you need to become campaigners for good eating.
Why are pulses going down so much? And talking about soya, though touted as a healthy food, it is very dangerous. What is the little secret hidden
Unbelievable since American Monsanto got into soya, everywhere it is GMO soya. Most of the soya that is produced goes as animal feed and as bio fuel. I just came from Vidarbha where BT cotton have been pushing farmers to suicides. There are more nasty stories on soya. It is not an oil seed. Ingredients of soya are not healthy ingredients. They suppress good cholesterol. Globally only 10 percent of soya is used as food. The healthy food like dhals are overthrown by these anti-nutritional foods pushing up the prices.
There were two panels under Madhav Gadgil and Kasturirangan for protection of the Western Ghats. What are your views on the two reports and which do you think would not have led to environmental exploitation
The government must have implemented the Madhav Gadgil report as he is an expert and spent his lifetime looking at ecological issues. Kasturirangan may be an expert scientist but that does not make you a scientist in forest. Misplaced expertise is very dangerous in the world. Or there is an conflict of interest.
What is your take on the Aranmula airport project which is hanging in controversy due to environmental clearance
The Aranmula airport project should not be there. Malayalees are losing their gulf job and you might well prepare for a post-Gulf era. Protecting your paddy fields is very important.
How will development take place if environmental issues are not addressed the right way? What is true development
What does RBI governor Raghunath Rajan say. Redefine growth. You need economic measures for the wellbeing of ordinary people. If you measure development as money moving in society, whether it is by creating fake real estate projects or new airports or new flyovers, these are short term thinking. They are parasitic on real wealth. The real wealth is the natural wealth that will sustain us. You build too many smart cities and run out of water, you will have the situation of Chennai floods.
To deal with it, think of ecology, think of society. Don't think of Monsanto first. Think of farmers first. When you do medicine think of patients first and not about pharma industry first. We are making a big mistake of putting MNCs first. We need to start putting earth and people first. And then everything falls into place. That is what true development is all about.
Kerala government is mulling a high speed rail corridor for easy mobility. This may involve land takeover and felling of trees to a great extent. How do you think the issue could be taken taking development as the main agenda of any government
A high speed train must bypass small places which means you are going to marginalise the mobility of the people of Kerala. These trains don't stop in small stations. It becomes high sped by skipping small stations. Not if the local places are not given attention. It will work for the privileged. Development can be brought about by defining mobility and convenience of people.
Your fiery opposition to the use of genetically modified crops have made you a crusader against GMO. You say seeds must be in the hands of farmers. Can you elaborate
GM crops are a failure. They came to India in 1998. We have lost 2000 farmers to suicides because of the royalties. 80 percent of Bt crops in Punjab was wiped out due to pests. 75 percent of cotton crops was wiped out due to a particular disease in Vidarbha. Native cotton did not have the disease. Organic cotton was not affected but cotton crops that were genetically modified were affected. That's the Indian experiment. Look at the international experiment. Half of American farmlands are overtaken by super weeds. There are only 2 applications of GMO. Either you put a toxin in a plant to control the pest or you put a gene into the plant and spray the company herbicide, so the plant won't die. Now we have super weeds. Weeds as tall as the ceiling. GMOs are failing the farmers.
Only US has approved GMO foods and hence you must look at the new diseases too. New disease epidemic is overtaking America. Autism in children, leaky gut syndrome among others. Humanity never had leaky gut syndrome before.
What is your new book focus on
My new book is a collection of articles of women scientist and activists and there is reference to autism. We are talking about a fatal situation on humanity. I was on the UN committee to write laws on bio safety. Companies want to bypass those laws.
Big brands fight it out for a slice of India's fast food market. This is an emerging trend among the younger children. How do you think we can improve the quality of nutrition
Fast food industry tries to fake costs by faking ingredients. A slow food movement has been created to counter fast food movement. It was an Italian who created it and he came to Thiruvananthapuram to promote it. I'm the Vice President of slow food movement and basically slow food is the opposite of fast food. If fast food is about selling junk, slow food is about quality. When fast food is about one uniform consumption everywhere like Coca-Cola everywhere, slow food is about the unique foods of that culture of that place. Very much the traditional foods. We need to reclaim respect for food. Grow food in ecological way, save seeds and keep food in women's hands. The economic model of giving us bad food is also robbing farmers of his income.