Home > In Focus > Jivad -The Organic Way

By Dr Vandana Shiva – Jivad – The Vandana Shiva Blog, 1 January 2019 | Source

“Organic” is a way of thought, a way of life. It is based on life and gives life. It is “jivad”- life giving . Life in Hindi is “Jiva” a The living world is “Jaivik”.

In 1778, the word organic referred to “from organized living beings”.

It therefore was the science of life and living systems, just as “Ayurveda” is the “science of life”.

Organic is the science of organised living beings, which is also referred to as “ecology”. The new science  of organized living systems is also being called “autopoesis”- self organized complexity in evolution and emergence.


With the rise of fossil fuel based industrialism, the organic paradigm based on the science of living beings was displaced by the mechanistic reductionist paradigm. Nature was now seen as dead matter.  Living systems including animals , plants, seeds were seen as “machines” assembled externally.

The assumption of nature as dead, not living, has been instrumental in killing nature, her diverse species, her self organizing capacity to regulate her climate, her nutrient and water cycles.

The mechanistic industrial paradigm, combined with the rule of greed, which puts profits before life, has brought us to the brink of survival. Today, we face an existential threat with climate catastrophes, species extinction, water, nutrition and health crises.

The mechanical mind and toxic chemicals derived from fossil fuels have led us away from the path of treading lightly on a fragile planet, with intelligence and care. The move away from “jivad” –“organic” –“life giving” thinking and acting, to toxic –“life taking” thinking and practices is most evident in the way we produce and distribute our food , the most basic necessity of life. Food is the currency of life. The Poison Cartel has made it the currency of death.

The age of industrial agriculture began with the transformation of chemicals whose only purpose was to kill humans in Hitler’s concentration camps and the war, into agrichemicals –synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides. The planet, our food, our bodies started to be poisoned . Species started to be driven to extinction, bringing us to the existential threat we face. Not only was agriculture transformed into a war against the earth, the farmers, the eater- our minds were transformed . “Autopoesis” gave way to “allopoeisis”-external inputs , external control We forgot life and living systems. We became blind to  the creative potential of biodiversity to provide ecosystems services which are the alternative to deadly chemicals –soil fertility renewal ,pest and weed control.

The life giving Organic Way returned in a new avatar to protect the earth and people from the harm of chemicals. By 1942, “organic” started to mean “free from pesticides and fertilizers”.

Organic started to mean “chemical free” in a period when poisons in food and farming have become life threatening to people and planet.

Organic grew as a chemical free alternative to the chemical warfare on our farms , our kitchens, our plates .

In particular ,“Organic Farming” is the name given to ancient Indian farming systems based on principles of diversity, gratitude and giving.

It evolved a century ago from India’s 10,000 year indigenous Agroecological sciences when Albert Howard, who was sent by the British in 1905 to “improve” Indian agriculture, found the soils fertile and no pests in the field. He decided to make the Indian peasant and the pest his Professors. On the basis of learning from nature and people he wrote his classic An Agricultural Testament.

Howard talks about how Indian peasants learnt to farm in “Nature’s ways” and made farming as permanent as the forest by applying Nature’s principles of diversity and law of return in agriculture.

What is called “organic” today is the distillation of centuries of indigenous peasant knowledge of India and the sophisticated understanding of how living systems works. That is why ecological agriculture in India is referred to as “Jaivik Kheti”,living agriculture , both because it is based on living systems and it gives life.

Organic is indigenous agriculture, it is “swadeshi”- of the land, of the people.

A ten thousand year old ecological civilisation’s time tested Agroecological systems and knowledge, and their distillation into organic principles and Agroecological science over the past century are the guide to the future of our food and farming, and our future as a species.

Organic is a world view, a way of thinking and living , a scientific system , a set of principles and values based on Rta– the way of nature and the universe.

It begins with recognising that the earth is living. The organic world view is based on of non separation and awareness of humans being part of a living world, in contrast to the mechanistic, industrial world view which sees humans as masters and manipulators of nature.

The organic way includes how we produce, process, distribute food. Since organic is about life, care is at the heart of organic systems. We increase care per acre, while the poison system increases carelessless per acre. Corporate industrial agriculture based on carelessness has pushed species to extinction, driven farmers to suicide,  is killing millions through diseases like cancer, and is closing the future of the human species.

But extinction is not inevitable.

Everything changes when we shift the paradigm from a reductionist mechanistic paradigm to an organic paradigm, from monocultures to diversity, from external inputs to “autopoiesis”, from greed and extractivism to sharing and giving.

Poisons give way to biodiversity. Life taking toxic commodities which spread hunger, malnutrition and disease give way to living, life giving food and nourishment.

Co-creating and co-producing with the earth’s living systems and biodiversity is the real purpose of living economies, including organic food systems.

Organic systems are based on local living economies in which the grower and eater of food are one organic food community and part of the earth community , giving life, sustaining each other. Organic communities are based on bonds of mutuality and giving. The law of return, of giving back to the earth and community, creates organic circular economies.

Organic is based on reclaiming the commons and cultivating community through organic relationships with each other. These organic relationships fertilise democracy and people’s power to work together for the common good.

Corporations are afraid of truth , of our intelligence and our capacity to care, create community, have solidarity, fairness and justice, democracy and  freedoms. Greed thrives on fake science,  false claims, fragmenting and dividing communities and establishing toxic monopolies.

The false narratives and failed technologies of chemical corporations that drive industrial agriculture have cost lives over a century of ecocide and genocide.

Now they are stealing our future.

IPCC and IPBES have warned that we have a decade to make a transition to avert ecological collapse, and with it our extinction. During this decade we need to rediscover the Organic way of thinking and living from which we have strayed, blinded by mechanistic reductionism as a way of thought, and corporate greed as the basis of organizing our economies,  our lives, and the living world.

The Poison Cartel is desperate. The world is waking up to the emergency we are in. People across the world are looking for ways to ensure the continuity of life for humans and all beings.

Organic ways of thinking and living provide alternatives to the death creating toxic systems the Poison Cartel has imposed on us.

The Organic Way is the ecological and ethical, scientific and economic alternative to the rule of the Poison Cartel.

It has a vital role as a system in shaping the future. The Poison Cartel would like nothing better than to marginalise and erode the scientific ,intellectual systems that have evolved as part of the organic movement. That is why its PR machinery is now attacking organic.

It is inaccurate to present organic as if is only certified organic, it is only the “organic industry” and it is only for the rich.

Organic is not a product or commodity. Organic is not a mere technique of production.

It is a way of thinking of ourselves as part of the earth. It is a way of living  that makes care for the earth our highest purpose as earth citizens.

We can sow the seeds of a future through jivad -the Organic way –of celebrating , nourishing , defending life in her diversity, abundance, beauty, peace.

The scientific paradigm of Agroecology, the science of Ecology applied in agriculture is the Organic Way. Instead of chemical inputs which cause harm to the environment and public health, the ecological agriculture paradigm is based on biodiversity –the diversity of fauna and flora, of plants, animals and microbes, and their diverse ecological functions. The ecological practice based on Biodiversity and Agroecology is Regenerative Organic farming which regenerates the soil, water, biodiversity, climate systems, public health and farmer’s livelihoods.

The emerging scientific paradigm of Agroecology puts biodiversity at the heart of food production. It changes the measure of productivity from yields of monoculture commodities produced with intensive fossil fuels and chemical inputs to the biodiversity based productivity and total output of biodiverse systems, including the internal input ecological functions provided by biodiversity, which are alternatives to chemical inputs.

Whether it is climate change , or species extinction ,the water crisis or the food crisis, hunger or disease, poverty or farmers suicides , the solutions lie in working with nature, instead of against her.

Over the last thirty years Navdanya has promoted and practiced Biodiverse Organic Farming and Agroecology and addressed the problems of hunger, poverty, soil degradation and climate change as synthesised in “Biodiversity, Agroecology, and Regenerative Organic Agriculture”. Every problem industrial agriculture is creating for nature and society is being addressed by Biodiversity, Agroecology and the Organic Way.

Instead of degrading the planet, our health, and rural livelihoods we are  rejuvenating and regenerating them.

We can bring a century of ecocide and genocide ,unleashed by the Poison Cartel, to an end, and begin a future based on Poison Free Food and Farming, striving for a 100% organic world.


Each of us, in our daily lives, can begin the transition from an industrial chemical food system based on jahar (poisons) to Jivad  – the life giving potential of the Organic Way – through how we see life  in seed ,soil, and food  how we grow our food, how we process and distribute it, and what we eat .

Over the next decade we can make a transition away from the ways of thinking and food systems that are destroying the earth, our communities, our health, our freedoms. We can join our intelligence and creativity with the intelligence and creativity of trillions of microbes in the soil and in our gut, millions of species of insects, plants and animals, and more that 7 billion humans – rich and poor, young and old  men and women of all castes and all religions, sharing our interconnected life on a fragile planet.

Each of us has the potential to be the sower of the seeds of our common  future.