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Navdanya International and Friends of Navdanya USA, in collaboration with movements of the USA North East, launched the “Northeast Earth Journey for Poison-free Food and Farming” with Dr Vandana Shiva on May 4 when she delivered the commencement address at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common VT.
On May 5th, she led a daylong workshop at Sterling College for activists focused on “Strategies for Social and Environmental Justice.” On Monday, May 6th, Dr. Shiva spoke and presented the pledge for “Poison-Free Food & Farming by 2030” to state policymakers and collaborating advocacy organizations in front of the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier.
Introduced by Matthew Derr – President of Sterling College, Dr Shiva said that “the health and hunger crisis and the destruction of small farmers’ livelihoods are symptoms of a system that is producing food by spreading chemicals that were created for killing. It cannot be called an agriculture system, because agriculture is supposed to be care for the Earth, care for the land and our children. We are members of the Living Earth and the Earth family”. She also urged the movements attending the event, that “we need to find new creative organised ways to be able to respond to the attacks of the Poison Cartel on life and freedom at every level. Just like life is about diversity, also freedom is about diversity from the individual to the community, to the legislator, to the planet. Poison-free food and farming works with the earth, its processes and diversity to regenerate life. Through Poison-free food and farming every species can thrive in the future and not be pushed to the 6th mass extinction”.
From Vermont, Dr. Shiva proceeded to Massachusetts, where she shared the Pledge in Northampton MA on May 6t. The event was hosted by NOFA/Mass. Dr. Shiva was introduced by Bill Braun, NOFA/Mass Board member, organic farmer, and founder of the Freed Seed Federation, an organization dedicated to involving farmers in the restoration and development of regionally adapted and farmer-controlled seed stocks.
In her speech, Dr Vandana Shiva underlined the interconnectedness among the main issues we are facing in our time, and how seed and food systems corporate monopoly, together with chemical farming based on monoculture, are at the base of the climate, environmental, social and democracy crisis: “For the young people of the Sunrise Movement – every time you worry about climate havoc, first of all remember that the same food system that is threatening your future through bad health, is also threatening the planet’s ability to maintain its temperature. I call climate change the metabolic disorder of the planet, because this beautiful Earth, Gaia, is a self-organised living organism, just like our bodies. And when the food is imbalanced, you get metabolic disorder – that’s what diabetes is. The inability of the planet to maintain its temperature, because of this pollution, is a metabolic disorder. But it’s not irreversible, just like, in some cases, disease in humans is not irreversible. And that’s where the Poison-free Food and Farming movement, and movement like NOFA, become so important. It’s the small farm where your grow biodiversity, you take care of the land, you produce the food that actually feeds us, while rejuvenating the Earth. The problem with the poison and fossil-fuel industry is that these are based on taking and killing, and producing uniformity. It is an extractive system, while the two principles of nature that maintain farming perennial are – as defined by Albert Howard (An agricultural testament) – diversity and the Law of Return, because only by giving back to the soil, the Earth, we create abundance, prosperity, rejuvenation and good nutrition. At one level, the Poison-free, fossil fuel-free Food and Farming campaign is about getting corporate rule off our backs, not only for ensuring that our farmers are able to take care of the land and be custodians and protectors of the Earth – not only we want that every child has good nutrition, but that the future generations will not have to march for their future. In sowing the seeds of diversity, in growing local and organic food, we are sowing the seeds of our future”.
On May 7th Dr Shiva met with farmers of NOFA CT in Connecticut, where she spoke about the importance of seed saving: “You can be a seed saver by growing one open pollinated seed of your favourite variety. That is where we need to begin, no matter how small the garden is, of if it is a window sill. The Tulsi (Holy Basil) is grown in the courtyard of every house in India, and there’s a beautiful prayer which says that we may feel we are too small to protect the universe and all species on a daily basis, but, in the Tulsi we can see the embodiment of all the diversity of the world. And we can take care of it, and by taking care of it, we take care of the universe”.
From Connecticut to New York, where a lecture on “Rethinking Food and Farming by 2030” was held on May 7th.
As reported by the School of the New American Farmstead on Sterling College website: “Since the fall of 2017, Dr. Shiva and her colleagues at Navdanya (the India-based organization founded by Dr. Shiva to promote seed-saving, biodiversity conservation, organic farming practices and the rights of farmers) have been working to connect different communities around the world that are working toward poison-free futures through a variety of political, grassroots and economic initiatives. Dr. Shiva’s “Northeast Earth Journey” transpired at a critical moment in our history when the true costs of food and farming systems based on the use of synthetic pesticides and other toxins are becoming increasingly evident. Scientists have recently unveiled a broad range of studies documenting extraordinary declines in biodiversity around the globe. Meanwhile, juries in the US are siding with plaintiffs as a long line of individuals suffering from cancer pursue lawsuits against the manufacturers of glyphosate—the active ingredient in commonly-used herbicides such as Roundup”.
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