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Navdanya’s President, Dr Vandana Shiva, joined the team in Italy from 9 to 13 April for an ecological mobilization tour that touched several destinations: Campobasso, Bassano del Grappa, Bolzano, Mals in South Tyrol, Trento and Turin. The tour was an opportunity for Navdanya International to witness the extent and impact of intensive monocultures on communities on the one hand and the strong will of citizens to join forces in opposing this toxic trend in agriculture on the other.
Citizens all over the world are ready for a transition based on an economic model that guarantees a nutritious and healthy diet for all, and that is no longer exclusively aimed at serving agribusiness and large-scale retail corporate interests. In this context, Navdanya International’s Global Campaign for “Poison-free Food and Farming“is an invitation to create a unified global movement for change in the food-production paradigm, currently dominated by giant agro-business corporations, which are influencing political choices and subverting people’s democratic rights.
The Campaign is part of Navdanya International’s more recent focus towards the creation of a healthier and more equitable agricultural, food and social model, in close collaboration with civil society organisations, experts, farmers and producers from around the world.
On 13 April, Vandana Shiva joined with Don Ciotti in Turin in a conference on the ecological value of Pope Francis’ “Laudato si” encyclica. Dr Vandana Shiva commented on the distortions of the current economic system as follows: “When we say that we want to end poverty, then we must look into the systems that create poverty by robbing the poor of their livelihoods and of the common good. Before we can make poverty history, we must properly consider the history of poverty. The question is not how much rich nations can give, the question is how they can take less”.
The event organized in Veneto on April 10, continued on from the press conference with Vandana Shiva, organized by Navdanya International, held on March 7 at the Chamber of Deputies in Rome which saw the participation of representatives of local movements of Veneto, who are protesting against the massive use of pesticides in the prosecco cultivation areas.
Each of us can reverse the current disastrous trend with our little big daily choices: we can change the world at every bite we eat, at every outfit we choose, at every trip, at every purchase @drvandanashiva in #BassanoDelGrappa #PoisonFreeFoodFarming https://t.co/bP5gXuFQ2H pic.twitter.com/TqVeMUZbMF
— Navdanya International (@NavdanyaInt) April 13, 2019
Local organisations in Veneto had the opportunity to meet two world leaders in ecological thinking: Vandana Shiva and Salvatore Ceccarelli, respectively president and member of the board of directors of Navdanya International. “It is not true that you have to use pesticides to make a profit, you can make a profit even without pesticides – said Salvatore Ceccarelli . “This is demonstrated by the fact that there are so many companies, including wineries, that work with biodynamic techniques of cultivation and make significant returns”. During the conference at Pala 2?, which was attended by over 1500 people from all over Veneto and neighboring regions, Dr Vandana Shiva said that “we are immersed in a system of non-human development that steals from nature and humans and that is responsible for ecocide and genocide. But the health of the Earth and the health of People are one. Alternatives do exist and are based on the regeneration of soils through agroecology, the preservation of biodiversity, the promotion of short supply chain food systems. Each of us can reverse the current disastrous trend with our little big daily choices: we can change the world at every bite we eat, at every outfit we choose, at every trip, at every purchase. We must take back the right to save seeds and biodiversity, the right to healthy food and the right to protect the earth and its many species. We must stop the theft of corporations to the detriment of the poor and nature. Food democracy must be at the heart of the agenda for democracy and human rights, at the heart of the programme for ecological sustainability and social justice”.
Our Councillor @drvandanashiva, Founder of @NavdanyaInt, will speak in #Mals #Südtirol on #sustainablefoodsystems and the importance of the Mals referendum on banning #Pesticides #Glyphosat #Neonicotinoids #Pestizide
©Bild: Manlio Masucci pic.twitter.com/qaXkS1rDnN
— World Future Council (@Good_Policies) April 8, 2019
In Veneto the problem is vineyard monoculture, whereas in South Tyrol the problem is that of apples. Ulrich Veith, Mayor of Mals, who had also attended the press conference in Rome in March, welcomed Dr. Shiva on 11 April in his village of Mals in Venosta valley, The Mayor, recently promulgated a referendum to ban the use of pesticides in the municipality, from which a municipal regulation was produced and then blocked by the court of auditors.
Vandana Shiva declared: “Agriculture, we must not forget, is the culture of the soil and the land. And that is exactly what we’re destroying with poisons”. Other topics touched on by the president of Navdanya International were: the externalization of industrial agriculture costs and its economic and health consequences, the link between the climate crisis and the refugee crisis, the deficiency in nutrients found in industrial foods and, above all, the fact that poisons in the form of pesticides damage not only the planet – and therefore the climate – but all those of us, as well as other species, who have a right to a future on this earth. “I wish there were many Mals in the world,” said Vandana Shiva, “because Mals is not only fighting for its own sake but represents an important pioneering experience for the world at large”.
"My trip to #PesticideFree #Mals is also in defense of democracy. I wish there were many Mals in the world. Mals doesn't just fight for itself. It represents an important pioneering experience for the whole world" @drvandanashiva https://t.co/bP5gXuFQ2H @NavdanyaBija pic.twitter.com/cLlXgzmE39
— Navdanya International (@NavdanyaInt) April 12, 2019
As early as October 2017, in New Delhi, India, Navdanya brought together communities of the Alps, represented by the mayor of Mals and communities of the Himalayas who cultivate the land without chemicals, to join forces and take a pledge to start a network of poison-free, organic communities at the global level. The meeting of April 11th was an opportunity to jointly sign a renewed commitment for an immediate transition to agro-ecological production models that respect biodiversity and counter climate change.
"Agriculture, we must not forget, is the culture of the Earth and of our land. And that's precisely what we are destroying by using poisons and pesticides" @drvandanashiva in Mals. Join the Network for #PoisonFree Food & Farming https://t.co/bP5gXuFQ2H @NavdanyaBija pic.twitter.com/FjtLpL8pJn
— Navdanya International (@NavdanyaInt) April 12, 2019
The event organized by the Best Economy Forum in Bolzano, on the morning of April 11, hosted Vandana Shiva to discuss the economic implications of the transition to an ecological and sustainable production model: the recent Food for Health manifesto shows that the transition is not only convenient and effective for the health of people and the planet, but also for the economy.
“Limitless growth follows the pattern of the cancer cell, which doesn’t know when to stop. In nature limitless growth doesn’t exist” @drvandanashiva #BestEconomyForum @NavdanyaInt @NavdanyaRFSTE pic.twitter.com/FJZHNr2spO
— ilaria barbonetti (@Organic_Ily) April 11, 2019
Commenting on the current economic system, Dr Vandana Shiva said that “Unlimited growth follows the model of the cancer cell, which does not know when to stop. In nature there is no unlimited growth”, and in particular on the phenomenon of predatory globalization, she stated that “Water is a common good that belongs to people. Water cannot be manufactured, it can only be stolen – and this is precisely what Coca Cola and others do”.
.@drvandanashiva giving the final keynote speech at the #BestEconomyForum “#Ecology and economy are both derived from the same word, Oikos, which means Home” pic.twitter.com/ZNXecyFns8
— ilaria barbonetti (@Organic_Ily) April 11, 2019
In addition to benefiting the economy, can agroecology succeed where conventional agriculture has failed, i.e. feed the world’s growing population? This is the issue which was discussed in Trento, on April 12, on the occasion of the 10 years of activity of the association L’Ortazzo. In her speech at the Cooperation Hall, with an audience of some 500 people in attendance, Dr Vandana Shiva reminded us of a deadline that affects us all: “We have never had such a situation in the history of mankind, we know exactly what will happen in 100 years, but to change course, to avoid our own extinction we have only 10 years!”. Dr Vandana Shiva was asked what it is possible to do in practice, as simple citizens and local associations, to promote Earth Democracy. The activist’s response was: “We are the food we eat. Food that either destroys our health or nourishes us. I believe that the place where we return to take care of the land and reclaim our freedom is in the connection between food production and consumption. Even small local realities can trigger change: everything that lives starts in the small, the food starts with a seed that is very small. We have about 100 trillion bacteria in our gut, that work together to create everything we need. If we think of ourselves as a bacterium in the gut we understand that as a community we have real power”.
"We are the food we eat. Food that either destroys our health or nourishes us. The connection between food production and consumption is where we can return to healing the land and reclaiming our freedom" @drvandanashiva in #Trento #PoisonFreeFoodFarming https://t.co/bP5gXuFQ2H pic.twitter.com/MwJRN1s1tD
— Navdanya International (@NavdanyaInt) April 15, 2019
Will a change of cultural paradigm also be necessary to accomplish the transition? Vandana Shiva was interviewed by journalist Stefano Liberti during Poietika art festival, which took place on April 9 in Campobasso. During the meeting, Dr Shiva said: “In nature’s systems there are no expensive and cheap foods. It is the trade system, run by corporations, that has made this difference. And our diet has worsened because of this type of trade. No decent society should allow food for the rich and food for the poor. That’s what we have to change”.
Dr Shiva was also a guest of the Valsusa Film Festival in Turin on April 13, where she underpinned the request of civil society for institutions to protect its region from speculative investments that do not seem to be in line with the will democratically expressed by local communities.
Instagram Story by @martinacamporelli #VandanaShiva in #avigliana @valsusa_filmfest @drvandanashiva @NavdanyaBija pic.twitter.com/WLiktIHI0X
— Navdanya International (@NavdanyaInt) April 13, 2019
For decades chemical fertilizers and pesticides have contributed to contaminating land, water and air. They are poisoning the inhabitants of rural areas and all those who eat food grown on contaminated land. The failure of such a model of agriculture is now at last in the public eye.
This tour marked the beginning of the growth of a movement that is opposing the devastation that is hitting the territories and wants to reclaim a model of sustainable development, through an agriculture model that respects life and the Earth. Everywhere in the world Ecological food systems based on solidarity and circular economies are developing. These are real experiences that show that agroecology is now the only way to produce healthy food, reduce waste and inequality, contrast the climate crisis and defend people’s food sovereignty, by putting citizens’ health and the future of us all first.
MANIFESTO – FOOD FOR HEALTH: CULTIVATING BIODIVERSITY, CULTIVATING HEALTH