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Vandana Shiva: Why Monsanto Is Fighting Tooth and Nail Against California's Prop 37

One of the world's most renowned scientists and environmental activists, Vandana Shiva, is speaking out on behalf of proposition 37 -- a California effort to label genetically modified foods.

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So today the empire is a “GMO empire” because it is a patent empire that collects royalties. The British collected royalties from land and became the power of the world by stealing from peasants, which created the hunger of India and the two million deaths during the great Bengal Famine.

Today the super extractions through royalties on seeds are linked to GMOs. GMOs have no other purpose except to bring royalties to Monsanto. That is why Brazilian farmers have sued Monsanto for $2.2 billion. That is why nearly a quarter million Indian farmers have committed suicide because of the royalties they are paying and the debt they’re getting into. The ripple effect is absolutely huge.

Freedom in my view is indivisible and that is why every step we take anywhere in the world matters. For example, the parliamentary committee of India has said there is no role for GMOs in agriculture after the suicides. Our recent technical group appointed by the Supreme Court has said there should be a ten year moratorium on GMOs til we start to do more independent science, to inform the public that most of what is passed as science these days is Monsanto’s public relations, because they just literally kill the work, research, the lab of every independent scientist.

They’re going after Seralini, there going after Arpad Putzai, and the only reason they’ve not gotten rid of me is that I got rid of a job I had in 1982. I have no job they can take away from me and that is the reason I’ve carried on for twenty-five years.

Kolhatkar: You talk about “seed slavery” and I want to ask you about that, because “slavery” is a heavy word. If seeds can be owned then food can be owned which in turn allows these corporations to control life - is that what you mean by “seed slavery?”

Shiva: I mean exactly that. After all, what was slavery when human beings were owned and captured in Africa, brought to cotton plantations in this country? They were owned as property, to be bought and sold.

Monsanto writes the WTO agreement on intellectual property and Monsanto is on record saying, “we were the patient, the diagnostician, and the physician all in one, we define the problem.” And for them the problem was that farmers save seeds. And they offered a solution that it should now be a criminal offense to save seeds. According to them seeds should be an intellectual property and they created this new fictitious law of intellectual property and patents on seeds, as if they were the inventors and creators of life on earth.

When I heard these corporations in 1987 use this language of intellectual property, I said they want a slavery of life on this planet. If I tell a plant, “I have created you and your next generation is my property and I will manipulate you to my will, I will put in toxic genes so that I can sell more toxics; I will put terminator genes so that there is no future seed, it’s a sterile seed,” this is the ultimate slavery.

The earlier slavery was for one species, some people of the human species. This new slavery is an empire over all life on earth and it is also leading to human slavery. More than a quarter million farmers in India have committed suicide. They became seed slaves. That’s why they ended their lives. They couldn’t find a way out.

The farmer in Europe who is being chased by new seed laws that these companies are putting in place are being told “you can’t have your own seed. If you have your own seed that’s a crime. Diversity is a crime. Your own seed freedom is a crime.”

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