- Jane Goodall
renowned primatologist, best known for her groundbreaking work with chimpanzees and baboons.
- Vandana Shiva
environmental leader and thinker from India. She is the author of many books, including Making Peace with the Earth: Beyond Resource, Land and Food Wars and Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace.
Watch our full interview with Jane Goodall and Vandana Shiva at the recent International Women’s Earth and Climate Initiative Summit, where they discussed their decades of work devoted to protecting nature and saving future generations from the dangers of climate change. A renowned primatologist, Goodall is best known for her groundbreaking work with chimpanzees and baboons. An environmental leader, feminist and thinker, Shiva is the author of many books, including Making Peace with the Earth: Beyond Resource, Land and Food Wars and Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace_. Click here to see all of our climate change coverage.change
AMY GOODMAN: What an honor it is to be with all of you tonight. You know, those of you who listen to or watch Democracy Now! know that climate change and issues of environmental and social justice are at the center of what Democracy Now! covers, grassroots movements. We’ve been at the U.N. summits in Copenhagen, in Cancún, in Durban, in Doha, and honoring Pachamama in Bolivia, as well. And we’re headed to Poland this year. But what we are interested in at these climate change summits is not so much what happens inside, because often not that much does; it’s what happens around those summits, the thousands of young and old who come together, environmentalists, activists, deeply committed to the future of the planet. And it’s giving a voice to those voices, like the women we have here.
So, first let me introduce them for all of you here and those of you who are watching on the vision hub and live-streaming. Dr. Jane Goodall. In 1960, Jane Goodall began her landmark study of chimpanzee behavior in what’s now Tanzania. Her work at Gombe Stream would become the foundation of future primatological research and redefine the relationship between humans and animals. Dr. Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute that continued the research, the institute widely recognized for innovative computer—community-based conservation and development programs. And she has founded Roots & Shoots, the global environmental and humanitarian youth program that she is so excited about and travels the world proselytizing about, I think it’s fair to say. Dr. Goodall has won so many awards. Among them, she is a United Nations Messenger of Peace. She won Japan’s prestigious Kyoto Prize, the French Legion of Honor, the Medal of Tanzania, and in 2003 was named a Dame of the British Empire. Tonight we’ll learn about how she takes on empire.
And Dr. Vandana Shiva. Dr. Vandana Shiva is a physicist, a philosopher. She is an environmental activist and an ecofeminist, has written too many books to count. She is the founder and director of Navdanya and of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in New Delhi. Among her books, she is a poet as well as a writer, Soil Not Oil, and, as well, Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply, Earth Democracy. Dr. Shiva also served as an adviser to governments in India and abroad, as well as NGOs. And she is a winner, among many other awards, of the Right Livelihood Award, also referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize, that was given to her in the Swedish Parliament, and also won the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize.
So, how did these women come to do the work they do? I think it’s so important—I mean, as reporters, first and foremost, we’re storytellers: How do you repeat the story to tell other people, to inspire other people? They didn’t just—they weren’t born doing what they do. But I’d like to know, for starters, and then we want to invite you all to ask questions, make comments, and also to send those comments via the live stream, and we’ll put the questions to our guests tonight. How you got interested in the environment—let’s start with Vandana Shiva. Where were you born? How did you come to commit your life to a sustainable planet?
VANDANA SHIVA: I’m born in a beautiful valley called Doon Valley in the Himalaya. And I took for granted that the forests and rivers I had grown with would be there forever, because they were. And then, in the early '70s, the streams started to disappear, the forests started to disappear. That's around the time peasant women of our area just rose and started the movement, Chipko, which means to embrace, to hug. And the movement basically was women saying we’ll put our bodies before the trees so you can’t cut them, because these trees are our mothers, they give us food, fuel, water, but more importantly, they give us soil, water and pure air. I decided—at that time I was doing my Ph.D. in the foundations of quantum theory, hidden variables and nonlocality. And I was doing it in Canada. But I made a commitment that every vacation I would come and volunteer for Chipko. And I always say I did a Ph.D. in the University of Western Ontario in quantum theory, but all my learning of ecology really came from the women of the Himalaya.
And then the problems continued, didn’t go away. And even though we managed to stop the logging in the hills because of Chipko, you know, then came globalization, and then came everything else and the GMOs and the Monsantos. So, four decades, I’ve been serving the Earth and serving people and started the Research Foundation really to—I call it the “Institute for Counter-Expertise,” because so much of what is called expertise is there to destroy the Earth, to exploit, and to reward the exploiters. And I thought knowledge is about something else.
AMY GOODMAN: And Dr. Jane Goodall?
JANE GOODALL: Well, I suppose I began loving nature when I was, I don’t know, one and a half. Apparently, I was always crawling about looking at insects and plants and things like that.
AMY GOODMAN: Where were you born?
JANE GOODALL: In England, born in London, moved out to Bournemouth on the coast because of World War II. And when I was 10 years old, we had very little money. When I was 10 years old, I loved—I loved books, and I used to haunt the secondhand bookshop. And I found a little book I could just afford, and I bought it, and I took it home. And I climbed up my favorite tree, and I read that book from cover to cover. And that was Tarzan of the Apes. I immediately fell in love with Tarzan. And goodness, I mean, he married the wrong Jane, didn’t he?
At any rate, I was 10 years old, and I decided I would grow up, go to Africa, live with animals and write books about them. Everybody laughed at me. How would I do that? Not only no money, Africa, the “Dark Continent,” but, you know, I was a girl. Girls didn’t do that sort of thing. I think I was amazingly blessed because of the mother I had. But for her, I doubt I would be sitting here now. So, where everybody else said to me, “Jane, dream about something you can afford; forget this nonsense about Africa,” she said, “If you really want something and you work hard and you take advantage of opportunity and you never give up, you will find a way.”
So, anyway, it’s not important. I saved up. I got to Africa. I got the opportunity to go and learn, not about any animal, but chimpanzees. I was living in my dream world, the forest in Gombe National Park in Tanzania. It was Tanganyika when I began. A beautiful—it’s beautiful, amazing rivers and waterfalls. And I was learning about these extraordinary beings so like us, helping us in a way to understand who we are.
And then I discovered at a big conference in 1986 that right across Africa chimpanzees were going. Their forest world was going. And so I began traveling around in Africa talking to whoever I could find about chimpanzee conservation and forest conservation. And then I found how the African people were suffering, about the poverty, about the disease, about the ethnic violence. And then I began to realize how so many of Africa’s problems, which were leading to the destruction of the forest, were caused by outside influences and that the evil of the old colonial era was carrying on and that some of the big multinationals were doing the same thing, were moving into Africa and other developing countries and taking the natural resources and leaving people poorer than ever. And so I began traveling around also in North America, in Europe and increasingly in Asia, and learning more and more about the harm that we have inflicted on the environment. And that’s what’s brought me into spending my life helping to protect the forest as much as we can and learning how the destruction of the forest not only is destroying the chimpanzees and other animals, but increasing climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, the motto of Democracy Now! is “the exception to the rulers,” because that’s what we have to be, holding those in power accountable. And I think, across your disciplines, that is what you do. And I was wondering how you do it, if you could give us examples of how you challenge power that you feel is damaging the Earth, and what you are doing now to change that. Vandana?
VANDANA SHIVA: You know, a lot of the power of the rulers comes from what Bacon said, the marriage of knowledge with power, a particular kind of knowledge, a very mechanistic knowledge that defined nature as dead—and, on the other side, women as passive. So, the exception to the rulers, in this case, is about resurrecting the knowledges that are about the living Earth and our tradition—and I am so touched that this evening began with the beautiful prayer and legacy of the First Nations with Janice and in the beautiful music from Melanie. To me, this is the United States of America, traditions that are totally submerged. So my commitment has been, first and foremost, to really, you know, do a resurrection of hidden knowledges and world views, which is what women bring to this discussion.
And every time I’ve done a study, even when government and United Nations will commission it, the first thing I do is go talk to the women in the villages. So, for example, I was asked to look at the impact of mining in Doon Valley. That’s when I gave up my job and work in Bangalore and returned to Dehradun to start the foundation. And the government was writing this TOR on the ugly look of the mountains, because Indira Gandhi had commented. So I went to the women. I said, “What’s the issue with this mining?” And they said, “Water.” They said, “That limestone holds the water.” None of the scientists said it. So I rewrote the terms of reference and did the participatory analysis.
But the second thing we always do is—because it’s participatory, people know. People have knowledge. It might not be recognized by the dominant system, which I call “corporate patriarchy” now. It was “capitalist patriarchy” when Chipko happened, because the corporations weren’t such big players in our lives. They were contained by all the rules of democracy. And they’ve knocked those rules off bit by bit. The other thing I always do is build the movement simultaneously, because I don’t think you can fight these battles top to top. You just can’t. So, for every study we’ve done and every piece of research we’ve done, one, we’ve counted a paradigm. I mean, all my work on the green revolution—it was assumed the green revolution produces more—found out, no, it doesn’t. Produces more commodities, but commodities are not food. And then we build the movement. When I came to know about how intellectual property rights were being put into the World Trade Organization, I traveled the length and breadth of the country sitting and holding workshops with farmers, who then rose, and 500,000 came to the street. We’re talking about '92, before Seattle. And we were together in Seattle, Amy. So it's a combination of major grassroots mobilization as well as dealing with the paradigm wars.
And I think the challenge of this summit is to put forth another paradigm about how to live on the Earth—what the Earth is first, she’s not a—you know, she’s not there to be engineered, she’s not bits of dead rock; she is the living Earth that we were reminded about—and also, through that, bring forth another leadership for another world, because we don’t want leadership in that rotten world of destruction. It’s not worth it anyway. It’s not going to last too long. We want the seventh generation, cultivation of leadership for the future. And it’s interesting, the seventh generation logic that Janice talked about, that every action we take should bring to our minds the seventh generation, in India we have the same, seventh generation. That was what civilizations took care of. Uncivilized people rape the Earth for today.
AMY GOODMAN: Jane—Jane, why are women key here? And talk about, in your decades of struggle, the role women have played. Maybe you can give specific examples of victories that you’ve had.
JANE GOODALL: Well, I think, you know, I come from this—from studying chimpanzees, right? And when you study chimpanzees, there’s a male role and female role, and they’re very different. The male is responsible for protecting the territory and the resources in the territory for his females and his young, and enlarging it if he can. It sounds familiar. It sounds human. The female is responsible for raising her young, for finding enough food to raise her young, in which she is helped by the male. And I think, I can’t help saying, as we start off this conference with the role of women, which is so very important, of a saying—and I first heard this when I was in Mexico, but I think the saying was from Ecuador. I’m not sure. But one of the indigenous people said, “In our tribe, we have a saying, that a tribe flies like the condor, and the tribal only fly true when the wings of the condor are in balance, and one wing is male and one wing is female. The tribe will fly true when the wings are in balance.”
So, as we move into this—and I wish I was here for the whole few days—but as we move into this, we have to remember we’re in a world where men are in it as well as women. And men have traditionally been put in the same role as the male chimpanzees. They’re there. They’ve been protecting the territory. You know, in the old days, they were responsible totally for the—for looking after the family, for getting the money. They were the breadwinners. They were all these things. And today, women are moving into those traditionally male roles. And I think I was say—I wasn’t saying it to you, Amy, earlier, but I’ve been fascinated by watching this change, particularly coming at it from the point of view of, you know, learning about the male and the female chimpanzee and thinking, as Louis Leakey thought, that seven million years ago there was a common ancestor, a human-like, chimpanzee-like creature, which over seven million years we developed into people, and they developed into chimpanzees, but there was this common ancestor. And so, watching as our women have moved into leadership roles, I noticed that, initially, to get into those positions, the women were trying to be more men—more male than the men. And there was a stridency and an anger in some of those early women leaders, which is understandable. But I think and I feel that that’s changed, that women are moving into leadership positions, and they are confident in their femininity.
And women traditionally are nurturing. Women traditionally nurture their young. The seven generations are important to women. And this is what I see. And I think, what’s gone wrong? What’s gone wrong with us? We’ve lost that wisdom. That is the wisdom of making a decision today based on how will it affect our people seven generations ahead. And we’ve lost that wisdom, and now we make decisions based on how will it help me now, how will it help the next shareholders’ meeting. So there’s a disconnect between the head and heart. And I am hoping and praying that women can come together and heal that disconnect, because if we don’t operate with our amazing head—the brain is what makes us more different from the other animals than anything else—with the human heart, love and compassion, we’ll never get there. And we do somehow need to create a world where we have two equal wings and find the roles for our boys as well as our girls. I just feel it’s terribly important.
AMY GOODMAN: Vandana, how do you nurture climate action?
VANDANA SHIVA: The first thing is to bring it down from the stratosphere. I think one reason the climate movement on the grassroots has taken longer to grow than movements around biodiversity conservation or water, etc., is because everyone got so overwhelmed with the parts per million, and everyone was looking at the graphs and how they climb and the hockey stick. And looking at the hockey stick is something that is out of control. There’s nothing you can do. But every emission begins on the ground. And every mitigation and adaptation action is on the ground. That’s why I wrote my book, Soil Not Oil. I was starting to feel worried that not only were we only dealing with the IPCC reports, that had kind of become the only place you could act, and go to the climate summits, but we were missing the biggest piece of where do greenhouse gas emissions come from.
You might remember the Kyoto Protocol was supposed to reduce emissions by 5 percent, and by the time we went to Copenhagen, emissions had increased 16 percent, because the solution in Kyoto was allow the polluters to trade in emissions and buy credits from those who don’t pollute. Not only did this make big money for the polluters, I know Arcelor—the Mittal family, which bought up all the steel plants, including the ones in Eastern Europe and France, he made a billion a year just through these emissions trading. But worse, because it all became such a racket, all kinds of really devastating activities started to be treated as Clean Development Mechanisms. One example is the fact that this year, 15th, 16th, 17th of June, we had the most intensive rains, and a glacial lake burst, and flooding like I’ve never seen in my life took place. Twenty thousand people have died in my region, the region where the Chipko movement started. The damage was accelerated by hydro projects, which were all getting Clean Development Mechanism money, in addition to all the benefits government gives.
Agriculture, industrial globalized agriculture is 40 percent of the greenhouse gases. We can do something about it today. If you notice, the official agenda is biochar. Biochar is burning biomass without oxygen, basically how charcoal is made. That’s not what the soil lives on. The soil lives on humus. But biochar is another place to make huge profit, whereas humus is just giving back to the Earth what we’ve received from her. And I think the word “humus” has such power, because I think humanity comes from it, humility comes from it, humidity comes from it—everything that gives life and creates our humanity comes from it. So, even though it might look a bit strange, but I think creating organic farms and organic gardens is the single biggest climate solution, but it’s also the single biggest food security solution. And given the economic crisis, both in this country—you watch southern Europe, you see the riots in Greece and Italy and Spain, and I work with youth, unemployed youth, in all of these places, one of the things I’m telling them all is go back to the land. You know, the banks messed up your lives. The governments have given up on you with their austerity programs. But the Earth will never abandon you. She is inviting you to be co-creators and co-producers so that we can solve all these multiple problems, which are interconnected.
And I think if there’s one thing women can bring to this discussion, in addition to those beautiful words that Jane used of love and compassion, the capacity to have compassion is the capacity to see connections. That’s the disease that the deeply patriarchal mindset has not been able to overcome, that they can’t transcend fragmentation and separation and thinking in silos, and, worse, thinking as if we are separate from the Earth, and therefore, as masters and conquerors, there’s just another experiment of control that you need the freedom to have. And I think we need to give a message saying, no, the Earth was not made by you, therefore you can’t fool around further. You’ve already messed up enough. Stop these geo-engineering experiments. We had a discussion on Democracy Now!, I remember, once about this. We need to tell them this world is about life, not just about your profits and your bottom line, so don’t reduce everything to a commodity, and don’t financialize every function of the Earth and all her gifts. So I think this is really the moment for another discussion, another thinking. And in all of this, the beautiful thing is, the concrete solutions are the most radical ones. The abstract has had its day.
AMY GOODMAN: You know, the media is the way the conversation becomes global, is the way we learn about the world, if it’s not personally talking to each other. And I’m wondering, Jane Goodall, how you reframe the discussion in the media. For example, even when we’re looking at extreme weather events in the United States, the thousand-year flood that’s going on in Colorado, for example, right now, and then you’ve got the unprecedented forest fires. You’ve got drought. You’ve got extreme cold. They don’t look like they’re connected because they’re opposites. And in the corporate media in the United States, the weather people could be the greatest educators. Everyone tunes in to find out what the weather is about, what they can do, what they can wear. But there is something bigger they can do. And the question is how you educate the media. You’ve been doing this for decades.
JANE GOODALL: Well, I think the way that I’ve usually talked to the media is about personal stories, because I think what you’ve seen—so, when you talk to people about going to Greenland and being there with this great ice sheet cliff going up to the ice cap, with Inuit elders, who are crying because, they told me, “When we were young, we came here. It was very hard to come here, but we came here. And even in the height of summer, there was no melting of the ice.” And as we stood there, the water was roaring down this ice cliff, and huge, great sheets of ice were breaking off. And it was terrifying. It was absolutely terrifying. And learning that if the entire ice sheet melted and the ice cap melted, the oceans of the world would rise seven feet, and half of the world would be under water.
And then I went straight from there, and I went to Panama, and I talked to the Kuna elders. And they said, “We have been moving our people off the offshore islands. We have a plan to move nearly all of them, because the sea is rising, and they’re losing their homes, and we have to find places for them on the shore.”
You talked earlier about Kilimanjaro, coming from the Kilimanjaro region. When I first went to Tanzania, the Kilimanjaro—the snows of Kilimanjaro were known everywhere. And now the glacier has almost gone. There’s very little snow. When you fly over it, you just see a tiny bit of snow.
And somehow, the media, they like a personal story. It gets home. Everybody does. I think when we tell personal stories, it’s really very important. And, you know, from my—what I’m kind of passionate about is what I’ve seen happen. When I flew over Gombe National Park where the chimpanzees are, in the very early '90s, I looked down on what had been complete forest, all the way along the shore of Lake Tanganyika, along the shore and inland, far inland, forest, chimpanzee habitat, just a few villages. When I looked down from this small plane in the early ’90s, there was a little oasis of Gombe National Park, and outside it was bare hills. It was like the dust bowl almost. It was erosion. There was nothing there. There were more people living there—and that's something we have to talk about—than the land could support, too poor to buy food from elsewhere.
And that was when it came to me. I was studying chimpanzees, trying to save chimpanzees. How could we even try to save the chimpanzees when people were struggling to survive? And that’s what led to our TACARE program, which is involving all the villages living around wilderness areas in projects to improve their lives, going into the villages not saying, “Oh, well, you’ve made a mess of your life, and this is what we’ll help you to do to put it right,” but listening, asking them, “What do you feel we could do to help you live better lives?” And it was the women, for the most part. And what we realized as we moved in and helped with some agricultural programs and protecting the water, the watersheds—and then we introduced microcredit. And I know that in some cases this has gone wrong. This is based on Mohammad Yunus. He took me to Bangladesh. And we found out, as the women could take out these small loans, everything changed, and the life in the villages changed. And there was more emphasis on girls’ education. We were able to help girls in school. And I realized, as I learn more about it, that all around the world, as women’s education and empowerment increased, family size tended to drop. And talking about family size is sometimes a politically sensitive topic, but we have to talk about the ever-growing numbers of human beings on this planet, which has finite resources. And we can work a long way to making a small patch of land grow more without chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which I agree with you so much about, that the land, you know, it is our mother. We talk about Mother Earth.
And then, I don’t think I’ll add this now, because I’ve talked long enough on this subject, but, you know, in order to make capital on what we’ve done in villages around wilderness areas—not just in Tanzania, we have about a hundred-and-something villages now—but young people. There’s no point saving anything if the young people aren’t going to be better stewards than we’ve been.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk, Jane, about Roots & Shoots, what you’re doing?
JANE GOODALL: Well, as I was—I already mentioned that I was traveling around the world and, you know, talking to people about all the problems that I was seeing. And I kept meeting young people, particularly high school and university, who seemed to have lost hope. Most were just apathetic, didn’t—they just seemed—you know, they didn’t care what they did. But some of them were depressed, and very depressed. And some of them were angry, bitter. And so, I began talking to these young people, and they mostly said the same thing: “We feel this way, because we feel you’ve compromised our future, and there’s nothing we can do about it.” Well, as I’m traveling around, I meet many small children. And when I look at a small and think how we’ve harmed this beautiful planet since I was that age, I feel a kind of desperation, anger, shame. I don’t know what I feel; I just don’t know what the emotion is. But, yes, we have compromised their future, but is it too late? I think none of us in this room believe it’s too late.
But, you know, I hear biologists—and I’m sure you do, too, and you must have—who liken us now to being on a big ship. We’re all on this big ship together. It’s a huge one. And up on the top there’s a lookout. And he sees rocks ahead. There’s going to be a shipwreck. So he calls out the warning, and we all rush and try to turn the wheel. But the momentum of the ship is such that we’re going to have a shipwreck. And that’s what biologists—I’ve heard them—tell us: We’ve reached the point of no return. It doesn’t matter what we do. So, if it doesn’t matter what we do, then why should we bother to do anything? Why are we all sitting here? I don’t believe there’s one person in this room who believes that.
But what is so desperately important is that our young people should have hope, because if our youth loses hope, we may as well all give up. There’s no point you’re fighting, Vandana, because what’s the point? If our young people have no hope, they will do nothing. And so, Roots & Shoots is about—you know, the main message: Every single one of us makes a difference every single day. You can’t live through a day without making an impact. And we have a choice: What kind of impact are we going to make? So every individual makes a difference. And because we’re all different, and because we tick to a different tune, young people in Roots & Shoots programs, from preschool all the way through university and beyond, are choosing, themselves, three different kinds of project to make the world a better place. They choose something to help people, they choose something to help animals, and they choose something to help the environment—with a theme of: Let’s learn to live in peace and harmony, not just with each other, but with Mother Earth, too.
AMY GOODMAN: Vandana, talk about what you’re doing now.
VANDANA SHIVA: So, I got thrown into Monsanto world, because Monsanto started to take over our world. You know, it was a nothing in agriculture. It made chemicals, created chemicals for war. And suddenly, in the ’80s, it was starting to plan to take over the seed supply.
In '84, I did a study on why there was violence in Punjab, and also the disaster of Bhopal. Now, nobody is told about the extremism that destroyed Punjab's—30,000 people were killed. The Kanishka hijack, if you go back to that time, the security checking of bags, all airport security, was because of that period, because planes were being hijacked, and 30,000 people were killed in Punjab. Punjab was the land of the Green Revolution. And it had been—the Green Revolution had been given a Nobel Peace Prize. So I did a deep study on what was going on, because by the end of the year ’84—this was ’84—I was so shaken up with the Bhopal disaster and this, I said, “Something is wrong. Why is there so much violence in how we produce food?” Because, you know, in the period where this was being introduced, I was busy with quantum theory, you know, my world was the psi function. And it was so harmless, you know?
And then '87, because of that book of mine, I started to get invited to conferences, one of them organized by the biotech—organized with the biotechnology industry. And they laid out their plans of genetically modifying seeds, patenting seeds and using an international treaty, called the GATT at that time, and then the WTO. And that's the day I said, “My gosh, they want—five companies want to control our food and our health.” And that is a world of dictatorship. But having seen the damage of the Green Revolution, it wasn’t just that it was a world of dictatorship; it was a failed world, because they didn’t know how to do this work, you know? Women have been growing food and saving seeds since agriculture started, and seeds never went wrong.
So I started Navdanya, the movement to save seeds, started to do the research on genetic engineering, started to build the movements on not accepting patents on life, because patenting life is the claim that “I’ve invented life.” And both of you sang so beautifully, again, about the dream of the creator, and the dream of creator is freedom and self-making. Creation makes itself. And here’s Monsanto with its GMO, saying, “God, move over. No place for you. Now onwards, I will have freedom to mess up the world.” So this is my big work right now: saving seeds, promoting organic, creating fair trade. And in India, we built a very, very large movement. Seven hundred and fifty thousand farmers have been trained in organic farming.
But connecting back to what Jane was saying, I realize also that young people were getting depressed. And so, with children and young people, we are saying, “Save the seeds of freedom to cultivate the gardens of hope.” And I’ve had letters from young people, unemployed people in Detroit, saying, “I read Soil Not Oil, and you invited us to be soil builders. And I started gardening, and now I supply my entire community and don’t feel useless, don’t feel redundant.” We have a seed freedom campaign, global seed freedom campaign, SeedFreedom.in. You can go visit. And basically, we are saying there’s so much you can do to deal with climate change, to deal with despair, to deal with hopelessness, that—and to deal with the threat to democracy, that every time we save a seed, every time we plant a garden, every time we create a community, we are cultivating democracy and freedom and hope.
JANE GOODALL: And we’re both talking about empowering youth.
VANDANA SHIVA: And I will just add one more thing. I think it’s so clear that the rights of nature and rights of Mother Earth are also the rights of future generations, because to the extent the Earth is protected in fulfilling all the services she offers us—the water she gives, the air she gives, the food she gives—to that extent, we are taking care of the seventh generation. So, rights of nature, rights of future, one right, indivisible.
AMY GOODMAN: Just as we open up the floor to questions and comments, I also wanted to ask Jane—we last had you on Democracy Now! when you wrote Harvest of Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating. The relationship between what we eat to climate change and climate action?
JANE GOODALL: Well, it’s huge, because—I think Vandana has already talked about the intensive farming, the Green Revolution, and how this is leading to climate change, and how the huge fields, the monoculture that destroys biodiversity. And then I think you also mentioned—or maybe that was this morning, but the—as more and more people eat more and more meat, this is an absolute disaster for climate change. First of all, huge areas of forest are cut down to provide grain to feed the livestock or to provide grazing. I’ve seen it happening myself in South America. I’ve seen it happening in Tanzania and Kenya. And so, as these animals are kept in intensive farms in horribly cruel conditions, maybe we don’t care about the animals. Some people don’t. But even if we don’t care about the animals, what’s happening to keep them alive in these horrible places, they’re fed antibiotics routinely, and this means that the bacteria are building up resistance. And people have died from a scratch on the finger. Plus they’re fed grain when they’re normally grass eaters, and they create an awful lot of methane gas, which is a much worse gas for climate change than CO2 even. And so, what we eat also—I don’t know. If we start eating foods filled with chemicals, I’m not sure about that affecting climate change, but it certainly affects our health. And although there’s no absolute proof yet, the number of people today who are allergic to things is far more than when I was growing up. And the—some of these strange disorders of the mind, it seems to be on the increase, and we don’t really know.
But if we put the whole thing together, what you’re talking about, Vandana, you know, the kind of farming, we must become organic. We must go back to urban farming, to growing our own food, to feeling at one with the Earth. I just feel it’s just tremendously important. And where we have our program in Tanzania, our TACARE program, working with the villagers around the—we’ve got Mary Mavanza here somewhere, so if anybody’s interested in that program, Mary is working in it and working with the women there. You need to talk to Mary, because you and she will get on really well. And so, you know, what Harvest for Hope — the book I’ve just finished, which comes out in April, is much more about our food. It’s about the plantations. It’s about the exploitation of not only women, but particularly the male slaves, but nowadays the women out in the fields, the women being forced to pick the tea that’s been contaminated, the women being forced to pick the cotton that is most horribly contaminated with pesticides. It’s always the women out there who are having to do this. And, you know—well, you know better than I do what happens to women and how they are forced to work in these factories in China and Bangladesh, in all of these industries.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s open up this discussion. Each one of you here are an expert in one way or another. If you could start by saying your name and, if you’re part of an organization, the organization that you’re with, and then if you have a question or a comment. Why don’t we start here? Mic is coming.
TRISH GLAZEBROOK: Thanks. I’m Trish Glazebrook. I’m with Gender CC and also the University of North Texas. You’re absolutely right about organic farming. The problem that I encounter again and—I mean, there are several, but the one that is strongest that I encounter again and again with organic farming is that the one area that the science lobby has been very strong on is suggesting that only scientifically produced crops can be efficient enough to give us the food that will be adequate to feed the planet. And, in fact, just last week or the week before, a study was produced that amassed data from about 2,000 other studies that argued that we can keep global climate change under two degrees, and we can conserve biodiversity, but the only way we can do both of those things at the same time is if we go to high-intensive farming. Organic farming is just not efficient enough, is the argument that we’re given.
And in some ways I think it has to be the case that it’s not, because it’s not just that we need to go organic. It’s that we need to go smaller-scale. And the advantage of organic is that it’s possible to do it at a smaller scale. So how do we combat that argument from the science lobby, such that we can—I’m thinking of Bablu Ganguly outside Bangalore and his wife Mary and the Timbaktu Collective, who have amassed a group of hundreds of farmers who are now in these small organic collectives, who work through them. How can we take the data from those practices on the ground and generate it so that it will get into the discourse in a way that can be influential in support of organic farming? Sorry I took too long. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Vandana?
VANDANA SHIVA: So, the first thing is, the industrial farming system, which claims to be producing more food, is not a food system. It’s a raw-material-producing system, a commodity-producing system. Only 28 percent of all the food eaten on the planet comes from industrial farms. The rest comes from small ecological farms. Only 10 percent of the GMOs eaten, of corn and soya, is eaten by humans. The rest goes for torturing animals who didn’t want to eat the grain, but wanted to eat the grass, as well as biofuel and, increasingly with corn, high-fructose corn syrup, which is displacing natural sugars on a very rapid scale because it’s easier to handle, cheaper for the Coca-Colas, addictive—all the virtues for the food industry.
The argument that organic cannot feed the world is settled, that it’s the only way we can actually feed the world. The Food and Agriculture Organization has done assessments, again and again and again, particularly in Africa. There, you get 200 percent increase by shifting to ecological methods. Just yesterday, the UNCTAD, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, which was the main body on trade before the GATT or the WTO were formed, just released a report, two days ago, how if humanity has to avert a very severe crisis in food, they’d better shift to small-scale ecological and local food system, because the industrial food system is creating catastrophes. The International Labor Organization, which deals with labor, has said small farms are the only way the economic crisis can be dealt with. So no matter which window you look at it, ecological organic is the only answer.
You talked about the scientifics. You know, there’s a split. There’s a 5 percent scientific community, which is locked into chemical agriculture and locked into genetic engineering and biotech. Their careers are locked into it. Their grants are locked into it. Their promotions are locked into it. But, first of all, to me, every person who farms is an expert and a scientist. Every woman who farms is a scientist. Half of the world’s farmers are women. We forget that. In the Third World, 80 percent, 50 percent, India 60 percent, I know Africa 80 percent, are women. And that expertise, joining with new ecological knowledge, is leading to a whole new exciting discipline that’s been now recognized by every level of science, as well as the U.N. systems. The Rio+20 recognizes it. It’s called agroecology, working on the principles of ecology in agriculture, rather than the principles of warfare.
We’ve done studies on the many, many farms of Navdanya, the movement for seed saving, and you can go find out more from the Navdanya.org website. In our recent report, we first did a biodiversity-based productivity analysis to measure the output. Output was much, much more in biodiverse systems. For example, nine tons of mixed farming—and maybe the corn was only two tons—you shift to a chemical farming system, you might increase the corn to 10—four tons, but you’ve lost five tons of other food. Our tables are decorated with maize and squash. The system of cultivation of this land used to be the three sisters: the beans and the maize and the squash—all the way in the Andes, everywhere, the three sisters hanging together. One big brother has made a mess of the climate, our food system, the land, the soil, the water. We need the sisters to re-emerge.
AMY GOODMAN: Where’s the talking stick? Oh, right over there.
FARAH KABIR: Thank you, and it’s always a pleasure to listen to Vandana and Jane Goodall. You’ve mentioned about the small whole farmers and the women being 50 percent, 80 percent of the farmers. My question is that in—I am from Bangladesh, Farah. In our country, women farmers don’t have recognition as farmers. They’re seen as assistants to the farming, and even though they are involved in 22 steps of the entire farm in Third World countries, women farmers are struggling to get that recognition. For women to get into this agroecology to do sustainable farming, if they don’t have the right to land, if there is this whole issue of inheritance, how do we take this movement forward?
AMY GOODMAN: Vandana Shiva?
VANDANA SHIVA: Yeah, I think the issue of the right to resources, across the board, is vital. Seed is one area which, 'til globalization, was in women's hands. And the appropriation of seed has become the single most important source of control over agriculture in many places. They’re creating public-private partnership where they’re leaving the land in the hands of the small holders, but the seed is controlled by the multinationals, the chemicals are controlled by the multinationals, and in effect the agriculture is controlled by them. In terms of land issues and the issue of land rights as something to [inaudible], in Africa it’s particularly important, because the older an agricultural system, the more hereditary the right to land is, not as an ownership right, not as a tradable right, but as a usufructuary right, the right to use. And as long as it’s the right to use, women had equal title, because women in fact did more work. It’s when the tradable rights got introduced, largely through colonialism, that titles went in the hands of men. But it also means, very often, there are no titles. The big land grab of Africa, billions of acres are being taken over by—for biofuels and other things. It’s all because you’ve been there so long, you don’t have to have a title. Everyone knows. And then some big company, an investor, comes in and just appropriates the land and displaces people. India has made a huge leap in this, our recent reforms in the Land Acquisition Act, our recognizing the oldest woman in the household as the main person with whom any negotiation on land will have to be done. But I was also part of the National Commission of Women, which is our statutory body for gender justice, and we drafted a women’s agriculture policy. It should be available in that Google world somewhere. And all these rights to resources, including right to land, are very, very thoroughly articulated there—right to water, important, very important.
AMY GOODMAN: Right here.
AUDIENCE QUESTION: A quick one. Thank you, Dr. Shiva and Dr. Goodall. My question is a more philosophical one. You spoke a bit about personal stories, Dr. Goodall. My question is, how do we create more empathy? You know, a lot of the issues related to earth rights, people’s rights, are about inequities, where inequity is not just about east or west or north-south. But coming from two places where—which you’re representing, which are close to my heart—India and East Africa—the inequities which are within our countries and continents, you know—in India, for example, the massive middle-class apathy, you know, where the mantra is “Let me do no harm. That, itself, is enough.” But what the world needs is how can more people not just do no harm, but do actively, passionately good, as you do. So, what would be your advice? You know, how can one create that empathy? Here, people are converted already, but when we deal with that indifference in our peers, not the young people who are still, you know, ready to be molded, what would your advice be? I would really appreciate that. Thank you.
VANDANA SHIVA: Well, you know, there isn’t, of course, a magic formula about cultivating empathy and cultivating compassion. But, one, there have been huge traditions for cultivating compassion. Buddhism is nothing else but a practice to cultivate compassion. That’s all that Buddhism is, as is Jainism. Some streams of ancient Indian learning are about compassion. But when you talk about inequality, inequity and the cultivation of compassion—from the days of Chipko when, you know, I could see—and as Jane also said—that the destruction of the forest was also the creation of poverty, I think we need to see more deeply the connections between human inequality and injustice and the violence against nature. When there were the—the epidemic of rape started with December last year in India, you know, I did a piece that connected a violent economy, which thrives on the rape of nature, but also then creates social systems where men have no work, they have no meaning, and they’re seeing Bollywood films all based on sex and violence. And, you know, their high is rape the girl that goes by. And I think we need to see these connections a bit more, as you said. I also want to mention Gandhi, who, for me, has always been an inspiration. And he was a man, but every day he said a prayer, “Make me more womanly,” to deal with the violence that is not biologically determined, but has been culturally cultivated in the idea of masculinity and manhood. And we need to recognize that all of these values are cultural. There’s nothing biological about them. There’s no genetic determinism in them. They’re about a culture. And we should cultivate that culture very, very carefully. And the reason I’ve started an Earth University at our farm in Dehradun is because there’s nothing like an experience for transformation, you know? You’re in a farm that’s beautiful where the butterflies are flying. You do feel inspired by the pollinators, and you want to respect them and protect them. And if you are in a Roundup-sprayed field, you dehumanize yourself, and you start tolerating more violence against the Earth.
AMY GOODMAN: Jane, is it creating empathy or unleashing it?
JANE GOODALL: I think it’s unleashing. And this is—you know, it’s very much part and parcel of Roots & Shoots. That’s why we start with children as young as two or three. And you may say, “Well, a child of two or three, they can’t choose if they care about animals, people or the environment.” But they know. And we try very much—one of the things we try to introduce into our program—and I’d love it if our programs could perhaps do some things together.
VANDANA SHIVA: We should. Seeds and roots and shoots is all one.
JANE GOODALL: Yes, we should. Yes, exactly, I know. So, we try to introduce young people to nature. And this is one of the terrible, terrible things of our world today, in the Western world, that young children are kept away from nature more and more. They’re in the inner cities. They’re surrounded by concrete. Even if they have a choice to go out in the country, they prefer to look at their video games and look at nature virtually rather than actually get their hands dirty. And so, actually, when young children have an opportunity to be out in nature to watch birds, to watch seeds growing, this is beginning to open them up. And animals—we found that animals—dogs, cats, rabbits—they really, really make a big difference, and it’s all tied in with empathy.
There is a wonderful, an amazing place, run by Sam—I’ve forgotten his other name—it’s called Green Chimneys. Some of you may know it. And these are children. They’re boys. And they come from—they’re really at the end of what they can do. They’re about to disappear in the underworld or be killed or whatever. They’ve been thrown out of every school. They’re about 12, 13. And when they come to this farm, they’re introduced to an animal. And they then spend their time with the animal. When they start off, they’re abusive. They’re not allowed to hurt the animal, but they shout at it. And then, gradually, they realize, for the first time, here is a creature that will never betray me, that I can tell anything to. And gradually the bond grows up between the child and the animal. And it changes them, because they’re now with an innocent being who won’t hurt them. And the animals, of course, are chosen carefully.
And I’ve been there, and I’ve seen it, and I’ve felt my heart really bled when this boy, I saw him come in, who was 12 years old. He came from inner-city Bronx, I think. And he was asked, “What animal would you like to be with?” And he said, “I don’t care.” So they said, “Well, maybe you’d like to be with a rabbit.” He said, “What’s a rabbit?” Think of our childhood, the stories we’re read. There isn’t a child any of us in this room knows that doesn’t know what a rabbit is. He had lived in the kind of life where he didn’t know what a rabbit was. A child like that can’t develop empathy, because he doesn’t get kindness. So, Roots & Shoots is very much dealing with inner-city children and helping them—letting them have a chance to connect with these life forms that are essentially innocent, and that will, as you say, unleash the—I do believe there’s a natural empathy that we all have.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, this is a question about pulling a rabbit out of the hat. This is from our online viewers. One person asks: What’s the single most important thing one can do to reverse our current destructive course and bring our world back into balance as quickly as possible? That’s just a little question.
JANE GOODALL: Just a little question. All right, you go first.
VANDANA SHIVA: You know, I have learned so much from diversity. And I have seen the damages that a monoculture of the mind does. And part of the problem that we face in the world is there were too many single solutions offered and globalized, with no care. I think it’s time to recognize there are millions of solutions, as many solutions as people. And each creative person, with unleashing their empathy—but there might be some principles we need to respect—rights of Mother Earth, rights of humanity, our common humanity, the equality between men and women, black and white, young and old. But I think the single solution worry, we should put it behind us and let multiple solutions grow, because only those multiple solutions will have the power.
And I want to mention here, when I started saving seeds, I was inspired by Gandhi’s spinning wheel. And he used to be ridiculed: you know, “How do you think spinning cloth can bring you freedom, in just pieces of wood?” And he said, “It’s the only thing that can, because these little pieces of wood can be assembled in any home, and the poorest of women in the poorest of huts can participate in shaping the freedom of India.” That’s why it’s so big, that these multiple solutions then are available to everyone. The single recipe will be available to a few, so let’s celebrate the diversity of our being and our solutions.
AMY GOODMAN: What about the importance of real, not virtual, community? We live in a digital world now. My colleague, Sharif Abdel Kouddous, our reporter in Egypt, joked, but maybe it’s not just a joke, that Mubarak’s greatest mistake, what brought him down, what led to the revolution, was turning off the Internet, because here, he said, “We’re Egyptian. We would have been inside on Facebook, online, figuring out what people are doing. Now we had to go outside, be together and actually see what was happening.” But what about that? I mean, look at this gathering here. While people are watching and participating online, the power still of a real, physical, interactive community.
JANE GOODALL: Well, it’s very, very strong. I think a real, interactive community—are you talking about face to face? Yes, there is nothing like it. And, you know, of course we have to use—it’s wonderful we have all these people online out there somewhere. You know, hello to you all. We love you to be there, but you would be really, really much feeling different if you were actually here. I wish you all could be. And so, being face to face—right? We met on the phone before. Isn’t it different now?
VANDANA SHIVA: Way different.
JANE GOODALL: It’s very different, because when you look into the eyes, it’s more than just being in the same space. You get a feeling. You get an empathy. You get—and it might be—we might hate each other. That could be, too. But we don’t. But I mean, you know, when you—when you’re close up with somebody, sometimes there’s real antipathy, and you might not know if you weren’t there.
But anyway, you know what? I wanted to just echo what you said, this one answer. What is the one thing we could do to get the world out of the mess that it’s in? And it’s partly about this early childhood and getting the right values, and that—that’s something which some children don’t get. So we have to try and—you know, I think early, early education is tremendously, tremendously important when it’s right. And if children get the right values in early education—and I feel that very strongly from watching chimpanzee infants, and there’s good mothers and bad mothers. And the ones with bad mothers don’t do well. And the ones who are—who have affectionate and protective and, above all, supportive mothers do much better. So, if we could—and let’s try to give our children the right kind of early education, the kind of values and empathy, then, yes, because every child is going to have their own passion, and what we do with our lives, if we follow our passion and we have the right values, that’s going to be the kind of thing to take the world, when we all—as you say, we’re all different. We all have our own contribution. We can all make a difference in our own way. And if we’re all told, “Well, you’ve got to do this or that or the other,” some of us will do it, some of us won’t. So we have to follow our own passion, just like you said.
AMY GOODMAN: Another question? Right there. Yeah.
THILMEEZA HUSSAIN: Good evening, everybody. My name is Thilmeeza, and I’m representing Voice of Women from the Maldives. My question is, President Nasheed from the Maldives always said that we cannot have a planet without democracy, and we cannot have democracy without a planet. And what is your view on the link between democracy and climate change?
AMY GOODMAN: And this is a very important question coming from this young woman from the Maldives, because maybe that is the perfect example of a country whose president was overthrown because he was taking on this critical issue of the day—climate change. He became a spokesperson from one of the smallest countries in the world—
JANE GOODALL: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: —one of the loudest and most powerful and passionate voices.
VANDANA SHIVA: Well, I think there’s a very intimate connection between democracy and the stability of the planet’s climate and ecological ecosystems. None of this devastation would be going on if democracy was being allowed to work. And a democracy would make the fossil fuel industry stop. It would stop the coal mining, the coal mining in India. You know, in a state of Jharkhand, where the tribals just don’t let a coal mine start, every time they come, they throw them out. One or two tribals have been killed, but there isn’t any coal mine there. That’s because people have used democracy to keep out the fossil fuel growth. Copenhagen would not have collapsed if the democracy built into the UNFCCC had been allowed to operate and had not been subverted by the Gang of Five polluters, which is why Bolivia then hosted the Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth summit.
But democracy is also vital to create the alternative, but a deeper democracy, not just representative, because I think the days of representative democracy are over in a time where corporations are so controlling those who get elected. I say, you know, they’re mutated. They’ve genetically engineered democracy from being of the people, by the people, for the people, into being of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations. And the only way we can deal with this is doing the everyday actions and creating direct democracy through our life’s choices, as well as realizing that human freedom is now so deeply interconnected with the freedom and rights of the Earth that if we don’t create an Earth democracy, then we will not be able to reclaim democracy in the human community.
JANE GOODALL: But isn’t it frightening how what we think of as democracy has collapsed? I mean, this, to me, is really frightening. We say in the U.S. it’s a democracy. We say in the U.K. it’s a democracy. But it’s not, because people—I mean, a huge, high percentage of people in the U.K. are against badger killing, for example. That’s the most recent one. It’s something like 80 percent. The government just goes ahead and does it anyway. Where’s the democracy? And then you can take a much more serious issue, and it comes to the same thing—fracking and all these different things. And the governments don’t listen, because, as you say, they’re owned by big business. So, isn’t it—what is democracy today?
VANDANA SHIVA: It’s quite dead.
JANE GOODALL: Yes.
VANDANA SHIVA: That’s why Democracy Now! is so important.
AMY GOODMAN: Yes.
JANE GOODALL: It is. Democracy then, or where? Democracy where?
AMY GOODMAN: Maybe what we’re talking about here is, it is essential to restore democracy to restore the Earth.
JANE GOODALL: Yes, that’s exactly right.
VANDANA SHIVA: Yes.
JANE GOODALL: Yes, we need to restore it.
AMY GOODMAN: Yes?
BOLIVIAN AUDIENCE MEMBER: I just want to make a comment.
AMY GOODMAN: Our friend from Bolivia.
BOLIVIAN AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes—that we are trying to—we’re beginning with what is multicultural democracy as an alternative, because we need to hear what all the parties are saying. We know that this sounds very good, like in the text, and we’re trying to apply to—to our state right now. We know it’s not going to be easy. We know that we’re going to see many, many of the gaps that were built during our democratic period, because our ways of living were very different before we were colonized. And colonization, and lately the neoliberation, have put a lot of restraints on us that did not allow us to develop as we should and to take decisions as we should.
And right now we have to deal with, for example, the fact that the rural areas are getting feminized because the men are going to the cities to work or going to the mines to work, and who’s staying in the communities are women. So you have really old people or really young people and mostly women, who have to start taking care of these rural communities, taking care of the water, taking care of—but that is a gap that does not allow them to start learning, to go to school, to have access to learn knowledge. So it’s that problem between if you’re starting to empower them toward education or toward taking care of the farm. So, this is one of the main problems I’m seeing right now working with small communities in—especially in highlands in Bolivia, because you have that problem.
Where are you going to put more forces into working with these women, who really need and deserve a better future? So, that’s kind of like a comment and a question. Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: One last comment or question?
SUBASHNI RAJ: Thank you. It was really great to hear from you both and very enlightening, as well. My question is twofold, so—
AMY GOODMAN: Your name and where you’re from?
SUBASHNI RAJ: Oh, sorry, yes. My name is Subashni, and I come from Fiji, but right now I’m a Ph.D. student at SUNY Buffalo. I have a hard time getting out the Ph.D.; I’m still coming to terms with the realization of what I’ve gotten myself into. But my question is twofold. And the first has to do with waste from the food system, which is perhaps the most overlooked, but we have the most opportunity in, in dealing with climate change. A lot of food that we produce today, we produce more than we need to feed everyone in the world, but we have 17 million people who go hungry regardless. But what happens with food is that we’ve created such a culture of perfection that the apple has to be perfect, and if it’s not a perfect apple, then what happens to it? Actually, no one knows. And there’s so much food that’s left on the fields, and there’s so much food that is just disregarded and discarded that we can utilize. So, how do we change this very culture of perfection that we demand? And so, how do we deal with that? That’s one.
And the other one is that—you know, I’m for organic. I would love to eat organic every single day. But organic is so expensive. So, if we are doing this for everyone, and if there’s supposed to be equity in access, then how do we, you know, deal with the problem of affordability? And that’s a problem not just in the U.S. and the Western world, but everywhere. And so, how do we make that shift happen? How do we make it affordable and accessible for everyone to have good food and not just Coca-Cola and soda and pops?
AMY GOODMAN: Isn’t it amazing, the more you pour into food, the less expensive it is? But maybe, in answering this question, these—you can wrap up, you know, make your larger point, as we sort of usher in this conference tonight.
VANDANA SHIVA: On the issue of waste, it isn’t that the consumer wanted an identical-sized apple. There are entire laws of breeding that force uniformity. In fact, I was in Europe right now at the European Parliament, and I have to rush back there, which is why I won’t be able to be with you throughout the conference. But they’re trying to pass a law that would make diversity criminal. The saving of seeds and the growing of diversity would be illegal, passing a law based on total uniformity. And it’s fascinating. I mean, then they want to put the diversity into .5 “niche market,” they call it, and that you can only grow these diverse varieties in the region of origin. The sad thing is, most crops never started in Europe. Corn started in Mexico. Dal started in India. The wheats and barley started in the—Iraq. Very few crops that originated—I mean, the squash went from here. The tomato went from Mexico. There’s very little whose center of origin is Europe. So, very craftily, they’re doing that.
And it’s done for two reasons—one, to establish power over the seed. Uniformity is the means of taking control of the seed, and creating intellectual property rights, breeders’ rights, UPOV—won’t go into the detail. The second aspect of this waste is because, as the food change gets integrated, and the Wal-Marts start taking over, they need uniformity as a management system. You know, we’ve been fighting Wal-Mart’s entry into India, and I met some South Africans who said, overnight, Wal-Mart changed the size of its trucks, and therefore the size of the boxes, and therefore everyone had to change their apple trees, because now the apple was the wrong size. But in nature, there’s nothing like a wrong size. You know, I don’t think the cucumber has to be that shape and that size. You know how they measure? And they’ve turned it into a safety issue. They make trays, and if the apple sits or goes through too easily, it gets rejected. It has to be just right. The peach has to be just right. Onion has to be just right. And that’s why the uniformity has cultivated full corporate control over food and farming. And then you have long-distance trade, which wastes 50 percent. So it’s a combination of waste in the field and waste in the distribution.
On the issue of—so, local systems and celebrating diversity become the solution to this waste. If you can eat every kind of apple that grow on every kind of tree, there won’t be waste. And you will then preserve some of it and eat some of it as a jam, and, you know, boil some of it. You know, the most important woman’s skill that’s gone is preservation. And we need to bring it back. And we’re bringing it back through the movement of women’s food sovereignty, bringing back the skills in the food system.
On the issue of organic being unaffordable, the point is the industrial system is the high-cost system. Industrial food is made cheap not because it’s cheap to produce, but because $400 billion subsidies go to lower the price. And that’s more than a billion dollars a day. So, if we have ecological system in local systems, there’s no problem of access. Navdanya works with farmers, not to produce commodities for trade, but to shift to an ecological system for the protection of the Earth, the respect for the soil and for the food security for the family. And then the leftovers go to the market. And this is organic. It lowers the costs of production, and is our solution to the 284,000 suicides of farmers now from '95 to 2011. It's a suicide economy.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: [inaudible] Agent Orange [inaudible]
VANDANA SHIVA: The Agent Orange, yeah. And the problem with the entire presentation of the organic being costly is because the costs related to environmental destruction and health have not been internalized, either. In this country, GMOs led to emergence of superweeds in the fields. They’re now using Agent Orange, ingredient 2,4-D, which was used in Vietnam, and DuPont is waiting for an approval for an Agent Orange-resistant corn. That’s why I call it a war in our fields. And we have—women have to bring the peace.
AMY GOODMAN: Maybe we have to expand the definition of chemical weapons.
VANDANA SHIVA: We have to. These were chemical weapons, and they’ve been used continuously and killed more people than in Syria—in the food system.
AMY GOODMAN: Jane?
JANE GOODALL: Well, I just can’t resist something I heard last week, which relates to your, you know, we have to have conformity of size. I met this person, and she said, well—and this was in California—that she had just met this farmer, and he said—and he was a genetic engineer—and he said, “It’s absolutely amazing.” You know this, but—”We’ve created the square tomato, because it’s easy to pack.” And she tasted it. She said, “Yes, but it doesn’t taste like a real tomato.” And do you know what he said? And this is what’s chilling to me. He said, “Yes, but very soon, everybody who knows what a real tomato should taste like will be dead, and nobody will know.” That’s the frightening thing. That’s the frightening thing. And this is why, you know, I believe in—I know that you talked about this this morning, but—the urban farming, growing our own food, even in a window box, schools, growing food in the gardens. That’s—our Roots & Shoots are all growing food in their school gardens, even if they have only a tiny little place. And, you know, I didn’t say, but Roots & Shoots is in 130 countries, including Haiti, by the way. And so, if you’re growing your own food in your own garden, in your own window box, in your allotment, there’s nobody telling you what size it has to be. There isn’t any waste, because you eat it yourself.
VANDANA SHIVA: And there’s no high cost.
JANE GOODALL: And there’s no high cost. So, you know, we just have to take this into our own hands, in our own way, and not wait for some big rule to be made that urban farming can do this. We just have to do it. You agree with that. We just have to get out there and do it. We have to take matters into our own hands. We have to say, “I know there are these rules, but I’m going to do this anyway.” And if we all do it, even if it’s against the law, if we all do it, can they put all of us in prison for growing tomatoes that aren’t square? No, they can’t.
So, you know, so I want to end up again with what I feel is so desperately important, and that is the youth, because if we help them to understand that they have the power, that they can do it, that they don’t have to go and be confrontational—they can do it quietly. We don’t have to confront people to win. We can very quietly move in, like the sea coming gently in and going quietly over all the ugly parts on the sand 'til it's all beautiful. We can do it quietly, and then we won’t be challenged. And then, eventually, all the young people will have created a better world, and perhaps gone back to true democracy.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, leave it to these two wise women to lay out the challenge for these next few days, returning to our roots, restoring democracy and unleashing empathy. Thank you so much.