Gaia met Vandana Shiva in the mid eighties when she was fiercely defending indigenous seed varieties and farmers against the Green Revolution’s commercial seed and chemical fertilizers, which had firmly gripped Asia. Gaia worked with Vandana to bring this message to Africa, warning about the Indian experience of the destructive impact of genetically modified crops and chemical inputs. Monsanto, the largest and most aggressive private seed and agro-chemical company in the world, was at this time using South Africa as its entry point to the continent.
On August 28th 2002 at the People’s Earth Summit in Johannesburg, the well known activist and defender of farmers’ rights Dr Vandana Shiva was handed the “Bullshit Award for Sunstaining Poverty”. Who was behind it? The American agro-chemical and seed giant, Monsanto.
Vandana famously laughed off the award, observing that “Cow dung is the original recyclable material. It helps fertilize the fields that grow the grass, which the cows, that produce the dung, feed upon.”
Vandana’s organisation Navdanya is one of the most influential non-governmental organizations in India, supporting farmers across the country to grow indigenous seed varieties and stand up against corporate pressure.
In 2012 Gaia released the film Seeds of Freedom, narrated by Jeremy Irons, which features interviews with Vandana Shiva. The 30 minute documentary tells the story of the corporate takeover of seed and was followed by Seeds of Sovereignty and Seeds of Justice. An unedited interview with Vandana Shiva featured in our Talking Heads series.
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