“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Gandhi

Hearing Vandala Shiva talk at Symbiosis was the single most relevant experience I had at this festival. And I only get to hear her by accident. I got so tired one hot afternoon session and I decided to go to the main tent and get some nap. (Festival goers can lie down and sleep while a speaker does her lecture). Being half asleep I get to hear this 60 something woman from India with a western PHD talk and I found myself clapping at some of her statements while lying down with eyes closed. Here are some of her points as I recall them:

  1. Genetically modified plants (GMOs) have contributed to the water shortage because unlike organic or natural plants they require about 10 times more water.
  2. Big chemical companies like Monsanto lobby for the cultivation of GMOs because GMOs feed on the fertilizer that Monsanto sells. They have succeeded in making countries to only grow GMOs such as corn, soy beans and canola at the expense of other crops such as vegetables and fruits and eradicating food diversity.
  3. With the advent of GMOs, the number of children with attention deficiency disorder grew. People suffering from depression increased. A lot more cases of cancer and obesity. Mad cow happened. (I have been puzzled by this ADHD and depression cases in North America. I thought we had no such thing as depression in PH so I believe this explains it. The scary thought of my body evolving due to the North American diet I have been taking).
  4. The chemical companies and pharmaceutical companies are in cahoots with each other. Chemical companies create the cancer and big pharma creates the ‘cure’ and big profits for both. (I still don’t get it that despite all the millions for cancer research, they still have not found the cure. It is an eerie thought that if cancer cases multiply and put stress on health care then this could have a huge negative impact on the North American economy. Why would American companies do this to American citizens?)
  5. Big Oil, Big Chem and Big Pharma are corporations and are motivated by profits and not the well being of humans. They need globalization to increase their profits and they need the UN and the politicians to enforce this at the expense of destroying local economies that lead to mass migrations such as Mexico, Syria etc.
  6. The big companies have been using propaganda via the media to turn their failures into successes.
  7. She expressed hopelessness on the next American election because H is controlled by the pro-globalization .01% who controls the resources and T because he represents the negative effects of  globalization and feed on hate and fear. She criticized the .01% as not really caring for society and tells them to come out in the open and not be shadowy. She singles out Bill Gates.
  8. Her solution is to fight the Big Corporation lobby. Go organic. Go Permaculture. She calls it food shed. Your own garden where you can grow most of your own food. By their estimates, an acre can feed a family of six and still have extra 400,000 rupees. The UN criticized her that her farms require manual labor to which she responded that Westerners pay more than a thousand a year for gyms so why not make money instead for exerting physical effort. She also encouraged the yoga enthusiasts in the audience that instead of doing yoga in the gym, they can do it by working on your garden because every movement in gardening/planting is a yoga movement.

I have read some of the counter-arguments in big name magazines such as Fortune and New York Times by Dr. Shivas detractors who are esteemed scientists from Stanford etc. working in high profile government posts such as the FDA. Dr. Shiva’s arguments are rooted from a combination of science, common sense, practical experience and intuition which in my opinion are more authentic than the numbers and technology of the esteemed scientists.