New Delhi, 27 May 2017: Over the last few decades, in the name of feeding the world, giant corporations have created hunger, spread chronic diseases and are killing the planet.
As Dr Mira Shiva one of the leading public health experts of India with an MD in internal medicine writes in her contribution to Annam: Food as Health, pointing to the food and health emergency facing India and the world, “India ranks 55th out of 76 on the Global Hunger Index and is home to nearly 194.6 million under nourished people. Approximately 15.2% of India is undernourished, nearly 73% of households do not have access to sufficient food or health. Nearly 12 out of 29 states fall in ‘alarming’ category.
India is a signatory to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). Goal No.2 (SDG 2015-2030) is to eradicate hunger.
The 1st two targets of this goal are:
2.1. By 2030 end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the Poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants to safe Nutritious and sufficient food all year round.
2.2. By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition including achieving, by 2025, the inter- nationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under five years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons.
The corporations which have created hunger and disease are now trying to convert the hunger and disease crisis they have caused into another opportunity for profits at the cost of people on the planet .
On 27th May, the eve of World Hunger Day, Pepsi and Nestle will sponsor an event on “Nourishing India”. This is yet another attempt to steal our thali, our food freedom, our food sovereignty in the claim of feeding us.
In the meantime, the Bayer Monsanto cartel is trying to push GMO mustard with the false claim to increased yields and safety, when in fact this strategy will destroy our diverse, healthy, ghani oils. In 1998 the attack on our indigenous oils started and we had to start the Sarson Satyagraha to save and bring back out oilseed diversity.
Navdanya’s work over 3 decades shows we can feed two times India’s population with biodiverse organic farming (Health per Acre ). IAASTAD has shown that Agroecology is the only way to nourish the planet and people.
Artificial fertilisers have contributed to climate change, soil pollution, water pollution and led to decline in Soil fertility. Ecological agriculture increases soil fertility, and hence produces more food .
The rapid spread of hunger and chronic diseases is related to changes in our diets and changes in the way we grow food and process it. The spread of toxics and monocultures in farming have produced nutritionally empty food loaded with poisons. In addition, there is an invasion of industrially, chemically processed food and junk food with heavy advertising, as well as an invasion of an obsolete, mechanistic, reductionist paradigm of science which ignores the latest in the sciences of ecology, of food and health. It treats bad food as “substantially “equal to good food” based on reductionist criteria which ignore processes and impacts on our health. It treats fake food that gives disease as equal to real food that gives us health.
In the book Annam: Food as Health, Dr Vandana Shiva, trained as a quantum physicist, and practitioner of ecological science for more than 4 decades shows how health is a continuum from the soil, to the plants, to our bodies. Chemical farming is based on monocultures, which deprive us of the diversity we need for a balanced, healthy, nutrition. Chemical farming depletes the soils of nutrition, producing plants that are nutritionally empty but full of toxic residues. When we eat chemically produced food we suffer from diseases related to nutrient deficiency and/or toxics. Her book “Who Really Feeds the World ” exposes the myth that poisons and corporations feed the world when they create hunger and disease.
Dr Gangadharan reminds us that in Ayurveda food is medicine,”Sarvaushadhi”, and seasonality, and methods of production and preparation are vital to health. Ayurveda identified the digestive system as the most important to health.
Samagnischa: Agni (internal digestion/ metabolism which includes 13 types of agnis, digestive, metabolic and transformation processes) should be balanced.
Western science is finally waking up to this reality.
As the book “Mind Gut” acknowledges: For decades the mechanistic, militaristic disease model set the agenda for medical research. As long as you could fix the affected mechanical part, we thought the problem would be solved: there was no need to understand its ultimate cause …. We are just beginning to to realise that the gut, the microbes living in it – the gut microbiota, the microbiome – constitute one of the major components of these regulatory systems and the signalling molecules that they produce from their vast number of genes “ (pg 6 Mind Gut )
Dr Rama Jayasundar, a biophysicist who heads the NRM unit at AAIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences), as well as an Ayurvedic expert, points out that the reductionist mechanistic concept is in adequate to understand the complexity of the human body.
“The human body is a complex biological system with many structures, biochemicals, functions, and a range of activities like electrical and magnetic, thus providing a wide scope for different viewpoints. While the modern biological and medical model is structure oriented, Ayurveda has a functional perspective of the human body. Functions are a result of complex interactions between a large number of factors ranging from structures to biochemicals. A functional perspective, therefore, will be an inclusive and systemic one, taking into consideration all these contributing factors.”
We have two options to address the health emergency of hunger and disease. Continue on the Corporate reductionist mechanistic path, making the crisis worse, or take the road of biodiversity, Agroecology, Ayurveda .
Einstein had said that you cannot solve the problems with the same mind set that caused them.
Dr Bhushan Patwardhan stresses that food supplements cannot solve the problem of deficient and degraded diets. “At present, there is increased global awareness about the importance of eating natural, and fresh foods, rather than consuming processed foods. There is growing evidence to support the importance of fresh, and natural foods. For instance, to counter vitamin A deficiency, eating fresh carrots is better than taking carotenoid supplementation. Fresh fruits like papaya, and vegetables like carrots, are much better tolerated, and have been shown to improve vitamin A status in lactating mothers. Just consuming proximate principles like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats is not enough for healthy growth and sustenance.”
Dr Vandana Shiva through a scientific analysis shows how fortification and biofortification experiments such as Golden Rice and GMO banana presume to offer a cure to the same diseases caused by industrial chemical monoculture farming, by using the same obsolete scientific paradigm which created the problem in the first place.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has adopted Food Fortification as a priority with the slogans – “Fighting Malnutrition, Improving Lives”. The Logo is “+F Sampoorna Poshan Swasth Jeevan”.
However, adding one nutrient to nutritionally empty food cannot overcome the diverse nutrient deficiencies created in agriculture through the NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium) mentality and monocultures. Nor can it compensate for food deprivation because of the hunger and malnutrition designed into the industrial food paradigm (Vandana Shiva, Who really feeds the World, and Hunger by Design in Making Peace with the Earth).
Finally Maya Goburdhun, the Director of Navdanya, shares with the readers the experience of Navdanya’s conservation and rejuvenation of the rich diversity of foods we can grow and have on our thali.
As she writes “In this presentation of what Mother earth has made available to us to nourish us, we have just touched upon some of the treasures; there are many more, hidden within communities or distant climes. With such a cornucopia at our disposal it seems myopic to just reduce our food basket to the super market trolley. Navdanya has many programmes, from food literacy to gardening to help those who want to reconnect to Living and Wholesome Foods. You too can be part of the Living Food Movement and heal both your body and the planet.”
The path to nourishing the planet and people is clear. It is not corporate profits through poisons, chemicals, industrialisation of farming and processing.
The path is biodiversity, agroecology, ecological processing, and respecting the rights of all to grow good food, and eat good food ..
Sign the Pact for Diversity against the take-over of our seeds and food