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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 for them it’s a game that will not lose because every failure means more chemicals, every failure means more royalties, every failure means more control. That’s why the only thing that can stop them is a people’s democratic movement. And that’s why Proposition 37 comes back to the center of this discussion.

Kolhatkar: I wonder how you see Americans learning from what you and the farmers in India have done. Here in the United States, although of course we’ve got a rich culture of small farmers, much of our food system is controlled by big agri-businesses. In the US do you see this more as a consumers’ movement rather than a farmer’s movement or a hybrid of the two?

Shiva: The small family farm of this country has been destroyed by big agri-business. The United States like India was the land of small farmers. But now there is a huge explosion of small farmers. The organic movement is new agriculture. It’s a whole new movement. I saw data showing that the majority of small organic farmers are actually women - urban women moving to do agriculture.

I’ve built this movement of Navdanya which means nine seeds and we have a farm which is a teaching and research farm and a bio-diversity conservation farm where we are at this moment harvesting 630 varieties of rice. We get people from around the world including a lot of young Americans who want to become farmers or chefs or something in the food system.

This is happening for two reasons: one is that the options are fewer after the financial collapse of 2008. Why is Occupy Wall Street such an important movement in this country? Because the youth recognize that their future is being limited by a Wall Street-driven, Monsanto-driven, Walmart-driven economy.

But the second reason is that those who do have an option to have a job realize how dead these jobs are. They’re not fulfilling and people are seeking a deeper meaning in life working with the earth, protecting seeds.

Our report on seed freedom has many contributions from seed savers in this country. So it’s a huge movement and this issue of seed freedom and the issue of fighting these giants will also be an issue of the small initiatives.

It will be an issue for children. I see in the future the movement for edible education, the movement of school gardens, being a major political force because when a child has tasted a healthy tomato, and more than that gone through the miracle of having that seed give them one hundred tomatoes, that child can never be brain washed into the idea of scarcity for dependence on Monsanto. That child can never ever be sterilized into thinking bad food is good for you. They will celebrate taste and quality and nutrition and freedom. That is going to be a very important set of players. I’m doing this in India and I believe this needs to be done in the United States.

We always believe that because organic is costly (and it’s costly because the subsidies go to the poisons) that therefore it’s an option only for the rich. But the point is that there are huge subsidies to make the chemical food, the GMO food, move toward the poor. All we have to do is redirect our tax money. Just like we have the right to know what we eat, we have a right to decide how our tax money will be used for the public good rather than private greed.

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