In a Facebook LIVE conducted on December 3, 2020, renowned environmental activist, food sovereignty advocate and author, Vandana Shiva, called on citizens worldwide to rise up for food democracy to protect ourselves and the planet.
The one-hour event also included guest speakers Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association, Andre Leu, international director of Regeneration International and Hans Herren, president of the Millennium Institute and Biovision.
The following is a transcript of the video.
ALEXIS BADEN-MAYER (ABM):
Welcome everyone. I'm Alexis Baden-Mayer, I'm the political director of the Organic Consumers Association. And today I'm wearing a different hat: I am wearing my Regeneration International hat. The Organic Consumers Association in 2014 was one of the organizations that came together to form Regeneration International. And today we have a really exciting panel for you; four of Regeneration International's Founders.
We have Andre Leu, our International Director of Regeneration International. Andre was named International Director in 2017. Previously, he was the president of IFOAM Organic International, the international umbrella organization for the organic sector. IFOAM has 850 member organizations in 127 countries, and it was a founding member of Regeneration International. During Andre's tenure as president of IFOAM, he served on the Regeneration International steering committee.
So Andre has spent 40 years visiting and working in more than a hundred countries. He has acquired extensive knowledge of farming and environmental systems in every continent, except for Antarctica. He and his wife Julia run an organic tropical fruit farm in Daintree, Australia. You may have seen Andre speak before at farming conferences. He's spoken internationally. He's represented organic farmers and farmers in front of the United Nations. He's spoken all over the world. And so we're so excited to have him with us today. If you have not read Andres book, "Poisoning Our Children" or "The Myth of Pesticides," these are must-read books for all people working in this area.
And we also have with us today Ronnie Cummins. He is the co-founder and international director of the Organic Consumers Association and our Mexico affiliate Via Organica. Ronnie has been active as a writer and activist since the 1960s. He has extensive experience in public education, grassroots mobilization and marketplace pressure campaigns. So if you know Millions Against Monsanto, you know Ronnie Cummins.
Over the decades, he has served as the Director of US and international campaigns for Organic Consumers Association, working with sustainable agriculture issues, food safety, genetic engineering. He has published hundreds of articles and he has two books, "Genetically Engineered Food; A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers," and also you must read his new book on the Green New Deal.
We also have Hans Herren with us today. Hans is with the Millennium Institute, and also the steering committee with the four of our guests with Regeneration International. He is a Swiss entomologist, farmer, and development specialist. He was the first person from Switzerland to receive the 1995 World Food Prize. He was also the 2013 Right Livelihood Award recipient for leading a major biological pest management campaign in Africa, successfully fighting the cassava mealybug and averting Africa's worst-ever food crisis.
Herren is the president and CEO of the Washington-based Millennium Institute and a co-founder and president of BioVision, the Switzerland-based foundation focused on food security and sustainable agriculture.
And finally we have Vandana Shiva. Dr. Vandana Shiva is trained as a quantum physicist, but she ended up turning her attention to the intersection of science and environmental policy and social justice. In 1991, Dr. Shiva founded Navdanya; a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources. She, along with Hans, is also a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award for her work in placing women and ecology at the center of international development. Shiva is the author of more than 300 papers in leading scientific and technical journals, and more than 20 books. Some of our favorites are "Soil Not Oil" and "Who Really Feeds the World," and "Earth Democracy." But if you have not read "Oneness Versus the 1%" it is out in a new edition with a very important essay.
And before we begin with our discussion today about food democracy—The People's Agenda for Food Democracy—I'd like for Dr. Shiva, Ronnie Commons, Andre Leu, and Dr. Herren to tell us a little bit about the work that they do, hands-on, in regenerative organic agriculture. I know that all of our listeners are very interested in the benefits of regenerative organic agriculture, and learning how it works, what it does, and each of our panelists has great hands-on work happening right now. So, please let's start this way. How about we start with Ronnie?
RONNIE CUMMINS (RC):
Yes, I'm speaking to you today from our research farm in Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. We've been here for about 10 years. We are a conference center, and training center, as well as a research center. We have 30 hectares, or are 65 acres, here and we are an organic farm with permaculture practices.
The most exciting thing I'm working on right now, is this system of agave and mesquite agroforestry with holistic management. This is, literally, a game changer that some small farmers near here have pioneered, the first time in the world, to take these native desert plants (agaves) and a native nitrogen-fixing tree (mesquite), and put these into an agroforestry system that produces enormous amounts of fermented animal forage, while sequestering huge amounts of carbon and improving the landscape.
So we're having meetings here all week with Hudson Carbon Institute and leaders, government officials, scientists, and so on, on an ongoing basis to develop this system. And what's exciting about this system is that 40% of the world is arid and semi-arid areas, where it's extremely difficult for farmers to be able to raise a crop or properly feed their animals.
This is a game changer that, I believe, we're going to see roll out on all continents. RI has staff and affiliates in Africa and Asia and Oceania and Latin America and North America. Once the system is further established here in Mexico, we're going to go to adapt this system to all the ecosystems of the world. So I'm very excited about this, and you'll hear more about this. I've got a new article coming out soon with some of our latest research materials.
Fantastic, Ronnie. Let's go to Dr. Herren—Hans. Tell us about your work as a farmer. We know you're a scientist, but we know you work hands-on as well in regenerative organic agriculture. What are the most exciting things you're seeing in the field these days?
Dr. Hans Herren (HH):
Yeah, I have a little vineyard. I think that's sort of my hobby, in which I'm trying to produce grapes and make wine organically. I just replanted the whole vineyard two years ago, and we grafted new varieties on them. So I'll be on the dry for another couple of years before our next harvest. I've been playing around with cover crops to see how we can provide all our nutrients through cover crops. It's been a real challenge because of a lot of weeds growing, and I got some Bermuda grass in there, which has been a real problem to try to get rid of using some natural controlling, mostly trying to out-compete it with other plants. The latest interesting thing I'm doing is to bring ducks into the system, because they're very good in weeding. I don't have to do that myself, the bending down, I have the ducks doing it. We tried with sheep, but sheep don't really do very well, they're very picky of what they're going to eat or not. It's been a lot of trial and error.
We are now planting the rest of the property into berries, preparing the ground to have a permaculture, organic plantation of elderberry and mulberry and also mixed with nuts. We are terracing the property to conserve water. This is using all the basic principles of permaculture and organic agriculture and to be as regenerative as we can because the idea again is to put a lot of carbon in the soil and and save all the water we can. We are on a hillside that we want to make sure the water doesn't flow down somewhere to the bay, but remains on our property.
So, there's a lot of interesting work going on right now, but I think maybe just one more thing is that, although I'm trying all this, what I'm trying to spend most time on is to take the good work of Ronnie, Vandana and Andre, and everybody else out there doing field work and having experience, and get this into the policy arena. I feel that unless all what we do on the ground reaches the policy level, we are not going to go to scale and the level we need to. I'm trying to do a little work out there, but also mostly working again in the policy SDGs, but also other policy avenues to try to go to scale. We don't have time, as we know, and I think you probably read the latest nature article, we've already shot over the four degrees already because of the permafrost issue. We are in big trouble and I think agriculture can really help us out, but we need to act.
Wonderful, Hans. Thank you. André what's going on on your organic farm?
André Leu (AL):
In my case, my main career has always been as a farmer and one thing I am very proud of is that my wife and I, we raised our family, our children, on our farm and I think that's one of the greatest things we can do. Our farm is a tropical fruit orchard, which we run on and have always run on agroecological lines. The whole idea is to bring the whole idea of functional biodiversity to give us ecosystem services. We have plants that help fix all the nutrients, fix the carbon, but other plants, host plants, for the beneficial insects to do our pest control. By bringing this biodiversity, I don't like to use the word weeds, what I have are cover crops and cash crops and I want the cover crop to give me a range of functions that aid the cash crop. When the farm was really at its peak—not now because I've also got other priorities—we were selling produce locally, all around Australia and all around the world. One of the things I do want to stress is that you can have highly biodiverse, organic systems and be commercially viable and get the quality and the quantity. The yields we got up in the top echelons, in our industry, with these systems.
Now, like what Hans said, for me the priority isn't the farm. We have much bigger issues with climate change and with policy. Most of my time now is spent, it used to be going all around the world, now doing it by Zoom, and one of the things I've learned about Zoom is that you can get jet lag without even leaving home. What we're doing is educating people on the multi functional benefits of regenerative systems. This includes regenerating our soil and taking down carbon dioxide, through photosynthesis, and putting it into the soil and how we can actually reverse climate change by changing farming, but we also need to regenerate our ecosystems, our forests, our communities, our democracies. When we talk about regeneration, we talk about it at the bigger level. It's not just soils. Soils are very fundamental, but we need to talk about the whole planet and community to regenerate.
Wonderful. Thank you André. Dr. Shiva, you are a quantum physicist who decided that it was most important to become involved in seed saving and you got directly involved with Navdanya, and now Navdanya Organic, tell us about your work and then kick us off. Let us know what the People's Agenda for Food Democracy is.
Dr. Vandana Shiva (VS):
I spent the day at the beautiful Navanya biodiversity park and every day it teaches me that biodiversity is the way, not monocultures. We just harvested more than 740 varieties of rice including about nine kinds of the basmati, the aromatic rice, and we are now preparing the planting of the wheat, 250 varieties of wheat, and our native wheats do not cause gluten allergy. The idea that wheat causes gluten allergy, it's so wrong, industrial monocultures with chemicals and industrial processing cause gluten allergies, just like industrial production and industrial processing causes all of the chronic diseases. In fact, we had to fight a case against Monsanto, which have patented ancient Indian wheats, for having the properties that don't cause gluten allergy, and therefore they wanted to have the market on one-in-three westerners now suffering from gluten allergy. But because we don't use chemicals, there is so much biodiversity beyond what we plant. And of course, we eat and grow whatever is served in our community kitchen.
The other day I stood in one corner of the park, and just in one square foot there were 12 species of uncultivated plants, not weeds as André said, uncultivated plants that were either edible or medicinal. Now, because of coronavirus and because of the pandemic, we are getting huge requests for healing plants. We've always had a herb garden, and there's a lovely wine called Deloynes. Everyone wants Deloynes, now everyone is drinking it for immunity. So in addition to the seeds—we now are going deep into not just growing medicinal plants, but growing the seeds of medicinal plants, and more and more Gardens of Hope, as I call them, and thereafter is the year of soil.
To connect André referring to the issue of soil and Hans referring to the SDG, we are getting women farmers from the villages to discuss exactly what the policy should be to ensure that we don't have malnutrition, we don't have disease. They say, "We live it, we are experiencing it, and we can tell you, we can be the guides of addressing the first three SDGs." And I'll be with them to celebrate this festival of the soil, but with them working amongst themselves and then preparing to tell the local politician, the regional politician, and the national. If all of you have been seeing, India is having an amazing protest of farmers that have blockaded our capital. In 1984, similar protests were taking place, in the land of the Green Revolution, the state of Punjab. I had done my MSC honors in physics and I known it as a prosperous and peaceful state, but it erupted in violence and so working for the United Nations University at that time, on a program on peace and Global transformation, I asked them if I could explore what were the roots of the violence in Punjab and then wrote the book, Violence of the Green Revolution.
I would like to share with you a connection. We forget that most of the food in the world is produced by small farmers, 70 to 80%. Countries like India, most of it, Asia, Africa 80%, globally 70% of the food we eat comes from small farms. Therefore, the myths that we need to constantly destroy small farms, to have ever larger farms to feed the world is what it is, a myth. But the small farmers of Punjab—and Punjab is a proud land, farmers just amazingly proud, if you 're watching the TV you will see their dignity and their love for freedom—And this is what they had said in the 80's, when I did the study, "If the hard-earned income of the people of the natural resources of any nation or region are forcibly plundered; the goods produced by them are paid at arbitrarily determined prices while the goods bought by them are sold at high prices and in order to carry this process of economic exploitation to its logical conclusion, the human rights of people or of a nation are crushed, then those are indices of slavery of that nation or region or people."
This is what led me to dedicate my life to look for a non-violent agriculture, more democratic agriculture, and I've done that since 1984. The seeds entered my life and the Monsanto's of the world said, "We are the inventors. We will have patents and we'll force you to have GMOs." And now our dear Bill Gates is saying exactly the same thing, but now with gene editing and the old GMOs, with patents on gene editing and deregulating. I just got a message from Europe. They want to deregulate biosafety so that Mr. Gates can then push gene-edited GMOs.
What is food democracy in this moment of 2020? First, recognizing the pandemic and the chronic diseases which are making the pandemic more fatal, are all related to a bad food system that is not worthy of being called food. I call it the "anti-food system." Food is health, a system that gives you disease is an anti-food system. We should stop calling it a food system. And therefore I think the food system transformation that we need is to call good food "food," and call fake stuff "fake."
The second thing, we know in an honest way that we can address climate change, regeneration movement came out knowing the solutions, and everyone on this panel has worked on those solutions, down to the last detail of how much gigatons we can pull out. On our farm, we built up 100% more organic carbon, 100% more nitrogen and zinc and magnesium in micronutrients in the soil, which comes into our food. What is being produced is nutritionally empty commodities that are leading to other diseases.
The pandemic has also shown us that the rich robber barons of today, the Tech Giants, who became rich in the last 20/30 years of globalization, then became richer during the lockdown, 67 billion dollars of additional wealth, by shutting all other economies down. They now want to enter our food system and they want to enter agriculture. Bill Gates is pushing Ag One Gates' Ag One started in January, from where? Missouri, the headquarters of Monsanto, and they want digital agriculture, but a digital communication doesn't produce food. It's not part of a nutrition cycle. It doesn't meet the broken cycles of life. All it does is the suction system of stealing greater. That's all it is, it is a data theft machine. They want to have lab food. Singapore just approved cellular meat as meat. Gates has the Impossible Burger, poaching patents. They want cow-free milk and they want mother-free breast milk, "in the name of climate change."
I think for regeneration, our movement, and everyone else who's watching, the use of climate change, as a way of destroying our real food and farming system, is what we need to look out for. The three things that they will play tricks with, if you look at the Great Reset of the World Economic Forum, they're going to push for the slogan, "farming without farmers," farmers are the problem to the soil, rather than the regenerators of the soil. The Regeneration Movement says we need farmers to regenerate earth, they're going to say put the farmers off like we put the indigenous people off. This is the ultimate colonization of the land.
The second thing they're going to say is, "We don't grow food, what we grow is commodities." I want to read out how Bayer, fake food, lab food, are all together, it's not that they're going to substitute Bayer—Mr. Gates pretends that he's dematerializing agriculture—this is what Bayer has said, "In order for plant based companies to produce at scale,"—because if all of us have to be banned from eating real food, they've got to grow hell of a lot of GMO soya in the Amazon, in the prairie, everywhere—"and succeed, they require efficient sources of amino acids and carbohydrates." Food becomes raw material, which will bring them around to agroecology farms, biodiverse farms, those kinds of farms? No! It will bring them around to grow crops in monocultures, which will be tilled and cultivated with heavy machinery. Bayer and Gates are joining hands for a fake food system, in the name of solving the climate problem.
We have a lot of work to do, not so much, with finding out that regeneration is the place to begin to regenerate the soil, heal the climate, and regenerate biodiversity. We have six times more pollinators on the Navdanya farm, than in the forest next door. We have 70 feet higher water by doing biodiversity confirmation. The problem now is our language is being used to do the opposite and continue the old project of the poison cartel and industrial agriculture, now on steroids with digitalization. And that's now our work to regenerate the human mind, to regenerate our love for the Earth, and most importantly to regenerate democracy, beginning with food. Food democracy is going to be the place where people will be able to reclaim their right to make the decision to take care of their health and build communities.
Thank you Dr. Shiva. I have a question for both Hans Herren and Ronnie Cummins. There are so many false solutions that have been proposed to address the climate crisis, geo engineering top among them, and we know that as Dr. Shiva has been talking about, these are the solutions that the oil companies, the fossil fuel interests and the billionaire's love the best; they love the false solutions, they love perpetuating the problem and then solving it with these false solutions that are tech-fixes, but can be monetized in some way. What I've been seeing online is a lot of fear about what could be done by governments and the United Nations in terms of climate change, and I see these people getting concerned even to the extent that they start to suspect the sustainable development goals and the green New Deal. I would like Hans and Ronnie to tell us why it is important to support the sustainable development goals and the Green New Deal and how we can separate these goals from the false solutions that the corporations are promoting. Hans do you want to get us started with sustainable development goals?
Thank you. Yes, you see the SDGs, they are far from perfect. We know they are a compromise, but every country has signed on, so we have at least a framework which if we were to concentrate on it right now and implement it we would be on the right track to go where we need to go. Just the fact that the governments have agreed to meet a lot of negotiations, we are all involved in this process, we're doing it. I think we were listened to and that's why when you look into the targets within the SDGs right now, so many actually have come out of work we have done, with experience we have gained. They are far from being unreachable. People say, "There's no way that we can get there." Sure we can get there, if we want to. There's been a lot of calculations and we ourselves at the Millenium Institute have done a lot of complex modeling to show that it can be done. We should even do better.
So again, the Green New Deal, these are all well-thought-out processes which we need to get started. And we can improve on them as we go, but we cannot let the private sector be in charge of changing and doing what the governments and the people need to do. I think that's the one thing which they're trying to grab. To me it looks like if we just go and do what we know already, all the experience we have, and put them into the effort to meet the SDGs, and any one of the of the goals, and any one of the targets, I think we are good in terms of putting everybody onto the right track. We are already talking about 2045, the next 15 years, because we know that 10 years from now, we won't be at the very end of where we're supposed to go. But I hope that we will be at least let's say 80% in the right direction.
True, we already tend to think about it beyond and that may help us also do the effort now, to try to do as well as we can. I think we need to work on many different levels again, as I said earlier, the policy level, but we need to continue also to show that it is feasible. And that's the point, which Vandana was mentioning also before, they come with the argument that ten billion people will go hungry, the scare tactic, which doesn't hold water, as we know. If we decentralized the production much more, and stop all this globalization, which has shown how bad it works, the pandemic actually shows that this is the wrong way to go.
So, where are the lessons learned there? To me SDGs, yes, let's put a lot of effort into this and try to meet those targets. Land restoration, for example, even if we can be neutral. I always say we should go much further, for example, we should actually restore land, not be neutral, in terms of what we degrade and what we rehabilitate, but even if you were to get there would not be so bad. I really want us to do a whole lot more and better, but let's already do what we had agreed we can do. This will be a really good thing.
So Ronnie, tell us about the green New Deal and why you think this is something we should work toward?
Yes. The idea of the Green New Deal was brought up strongly in 2018, by the Youth Climate Movement in the United States, basically calling back attention to the 1930s when we had a severe crisis, severe environmental crisis, a severe crisis of public health and poverty, and when the threat of fascism was not only in Europe and Japan but in the United States as well. People came together and they carried out a halfway revolution; it was not fully successful, it was not fully comprehensive, but there were some definitely some good things: the New Deal, in the United States, and the way it had a repercussions down here in Mexico, with the Cardenas Administration. Mexico had sort of a new deal also in the 1930s, which was the most important period in Mexico.
I think we have to recognize that we've got to scale up regenerative and organic practices and the way you do that is raising consciousness—which all of us have been doing for many years and we're being successful—and we need farmer Innovation and farmer creativity. We're seeing that, we're seeing that also in the Alternative Energy sector, but we also need public policy change. We do not have time left, before the Earth becomes uninhabitable, to just change one farm at a time, one ranch at a time, one school district at a time, one workplace at a time, we need to change public policy as well. And I think we're going to see that, although, we're in a very stressful moment, right now.
Finally we're going to have to have financing for this system. We're going to have to take back control of our resources and redirect them. Even the foundations that have funded the organic and sustainable ag movement over the last 30-40 years in the U.S. and elsewhere. Most of these foundations have 95% of their money in the stock market. There's plenty of liquid capital in the U.S. There's 30 trillion dollars floating around, the problem is that it's invested in degeneration. We're going to have to wrestle back control of our savings, our retirement, the capital that was created by people's labor and by the richness of the environment.
I just want to say one thing, I think the greatest obstacle we have right now, is fear, and this is fear, I've seen it all across the world. There's pandemic mongering going on by the elites. So half the population are afraid of this new genetically engineered virus that is spread all over the place because it's highly infectious. It makes people with pre-existing poor health, in many cases become very ill, and die. But the other type of fear, which I think we really have to overcome, is the fear that we're going to lose. That “Great Reset,” that the World Economic Forum and Monsanto and Silicon Valley and the Global World Health Elite are claiming we're going to have, that there's no way to stop it. I think many of our brothers and sisters in the activist community worldwide, we need to step back a little bit, get centered in ourselves, get back in touch with nature, get back in touch with our historical roots, our spiritual roots, realize that we are powerful enough to stop this “Great Reset” and instead have a “Great Regeneration.”
Six years ago, all of us got together, in New York, and said, "We need a new dimension to the food and farming movement. We need a new dimension to the climate movement. We need to focus around regeneration." That seemed pretty utopian back then, but here we are six years later, we have changed the conversation in the whole world around climate, that it does include food farming and land use. I think we've changed the food and farming movement around the world, as well, to focus on not just healthy food, healthy soil, justice, but also, solving, resolving, reversing climate change.
We have made amazing steps. Just because things look bad, this is very much like 1934 again, when the Nazis came to power, in Germany, they were not the majority, but they manipulated the majority into going along based on fear mongering, based on anxieties that people have. I believe we're going to win this thing. I think that the World Economic Forum, Bill Gates, the genetic engineering industry, and the vaccine industry have gone too far. They've overreached themselves. We are going to be able to build a critical mass in all the 197 or so countries of the world and move forward. I really believe we need to redouble our efforts to popularize this notion of regeneration. And it's not just the soil, we've got to regenerate our souls. We've got to regenerate our optimism. Let's get beyond being fearful and let's step out there and do it.
Great. I'm really glad to establish a reason why we need the Sustainable Development Goals and the Green New Deal, and why we shouldn't be fearful of working at the national and international level for our goals of regenerative agriculture. But I do want to turn back to Dr. Vandana Shiva, and ask you Dr. Shiva just because it's good to fight for these broad goals, that doesn't mean that the United Nations isn't being influenced improperly by organizations like the Gates Foundation. What are your concerns? What are we up against at the United Nations?
You know the United Nations, in 1992, was the platform where the movements of the world got together, local movements said, “There's a climate problem, there's a biodiversity problem,” and we managed to create international, legally binding treaties: the Climate Treaty and the Biodiversity Convention. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) has been a very, very important UN agency. It's where the seed treaty is housed, which says you can't just go and grab seats from the third world. You have to take permission, and that is what the Plant Genetic Resources Agreement is about.
So, what is the danger of Bill Gates hijacking the UN system? First, that he takes the only place where the smallest of countries has the same vote as the most powerful country. And therefore this is the platform for international democracy. Its history beginning with the international human rights, the environmental laws, the UN, the FAO—Hans has been such an important part of it—promoting agroecology. Two things that Gates is doing: on the one hand, he's hijacking the FAO, and the fact that the Food Summit—instead of being held in Rome where it should be held, and is historically held—is going to New York, and is being led by the lady who heads AGRA, the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (the same Green Revolution that left the state of Punjab in ruins).
This is the privatization and enclosures of the UN, but the second thing he's doing is while he's hijacking, he's also undercutting. He's the digital emperor. He's the ‘Monsanto of the digital world.’ While Monsanto became big with patents and seed, Microsoft became big with stolen software, which he patented. Now he wants to use that same logic to patent our seeds through gene editing and genomic mapping. All I do is read the barcode of the genome and take a patent, which is what he's doing, but that means I do not work according to the conventional biological diversity to take permission from the communities and the countries. Will you give me no genetic resources or the FAO treaty? He is subverting. He's hijacking and subverting.
But what is he subverting for? A misguided idea of what agriculture is about, a misguided notion of what science is about. Science is understanding how nature works. It is about agroecology. It is about understanding the laws of regeneration. What does he know? Stealing data. Data is, in effect, a huge complex of knowledge and picking the part that's convenient to you is mining data. Which means if he has his way, he’ll drown us in an ocean of ignorance.
Look at the papers they put out, saying soyabean in the Amazon is good for the planet, but having your local food is dangerous for the planet. Breast milk in the lab is a climate solution. His climate fund funds. Mothers feeding their babies? No just get rid of it. So he is this opposed-to-truth man. He's totally a fake scientist, opposed-to-truth man, and this group of Silicon Valley kind believes so much that ‘we can substitute nature, we can substitute humanity. We will make transhumans. Humans are unimproved technology, food is unimproved technology.’
Regeneration, for me, is recognizing that we live by the laws of Mother Nature. We live by her generosity. And so, Mr. Gates is dangerous, with the United Nations, because it's the only organized forum created after fascism. It was a result of controlling fascism in the wars, and you know fascism, Musollini said, is the convergence of corporate power with state power. At the UN level, the philanthro-imperialist joining hands with the UN basically converts the United Nations from a democracy of nations, to a global food fascism. And that's why we need, not just the practice of Food Democracy everywhere, but the international networks that we are for food democracy. Regeneration is food democracy for the soil organisms, food democracy for biodiversity, food democracy so that no one goes hungry, food democracy so that food doesn't become the biggest reason for climate disaster, and pandemics.
Therefore it's ultimately a fight of truth and falsehood, and I would so support Ronnie and his comment, when Monsanto said every seed should be patented, we said we’re going to love the seed and protect the seed. Most seeds are not patented. Today we decide Mr. Gates doesn't impose himself into food. He’s not going to push gene-edited crops. He's not going to drive farmers off the land through digital agriculture. And we decide from now onward, we’re going to do a “satyagraha” way for civil disobedience, a “satyagraha” for life. Everyone decides we're going to grow our gardens, we're going to seed and grow our peace. We will know where the food is coming from. We will link to farmers and we build a food democracy movement like the anti-slavery movement, like the human rights movement against fascism. Of course, we're going to defeat them! There are only five of them anyway.
That’s great, Vandana, thank you.
Andre, you headed up IFOAM Organics International, and that's one of the best examples of food democracy of hundreds of organizations from around the world getting together, and then being able to engage on this world stage, taking advantage of the democratic platform that the United Nations offers, as Vandana has explained.
We've got a couple of questions about bringing regenerative organic agriculture to the developing world, and I think, Andre, you could probably tell us how that really better works in reverse; that we can learn from the traditional practices of small-scale farmers all over the world, who haven't been unduly influenced by Western forces yet. But this is where we have to engage most strongly. So, Andre, take us through that issue of what we can learn from, or what we could bring to, which may be the wrong way to put it, the developing world on organic regenerative agriculture.
I'd love to, and I think this is actually also one of Vandana's favorite stories. The organic sector is worth well over a hundred billion dollars now, and it's the fastest growing multi-product—not multi commodity, because you have, in organic produce, something called ‘food’, against the ‘fake food’ that Vandana was talking about.
So what can we learn? Well, this is where what I’ve said modern organic agriculture came from was from India, from the Indian farmers. Because one of the great pioneers of the modern organic sector, Sir Albert Howard, was sent to India to teach them modern agriculture and he started observing and learning. Actually his wife was the biggest influence on him actually. She pointed out, ‘Have a look at what the Indian farmers are doing, they have got it right.’ He realized that was the case, and went right back to England, and said ‘Actually it's the other way around, if nothing, we need to learn from them.’ So of course they sacked him. This always happens to anybody who's a progressive or a heretic, but kind of long story short; he ended up writing one of the most important books, and this book influenced Rodale in the United States, who went and published Organic Farming and Gardening. And that's where the word “organic” came from. The word actually comes from: the recycling of organic matter and building healthy soils.
So what we're doing has actually come from the small farmers, because regenerative agriculture has come out of that. So you can really say our roots are the small farmer, and we are still learning from their systems, and they're still very valuable systems. It's the opposite of what Bill Gates is trying to do by steamrolling this incredible knowledge, and this incredible biodiversity of plants, of seeds, and of animals. We're talking about hundreds of thousands of varieties. And can I say, the loss of these agricultural varieties is the biggest extinction event on the planet, because we're losing not just these plants, these seeds, these breeds; we're losing the knowledge that goes with them as well. We need to preserve this, protect it, learn from it, and work with it.
What I do want to end on is really important, is that when we look at the opposite of regenerative is degenerative. If you want to talk about Gates, Silicon Valley, what the money markets, and other people are doing, or the fact that they are clearing the Amazon, they’re clearing the forests of Asia, and the tropical forests of Africa for single commodity crops. This is degenerative. They’re producing foods that are full of pesticides, empty of nutrition, and are responsible for what the World Health Organization calls the epidemic of non-contagious chronic diseases, and this actually kills far more people than COVID ever will. And yet, this is the one we need to to fight, and we know what the answer to that is: it's a bad food system. We need to turn it around with our regenerative system so we can nourish the world, nourish our communities, and basically empower people to get back our food democracy.
Thank you. Andre. Looks like we lost Vandana, but hopefully she'll be back in a moment.
I'd like to take our final round of comments from the panelists and I hate to end on a challenging or sad note, but we are living in extraordinary times. We are seeing, now, the challenges that we've never faced before, and all of the inequities and injustices in the food system that were there before the COVID-19 pandemic have just become that much more intense. Especially as we see, for instance, workers in slaughterhouses in the United States and around the world, where we have epidemic levels of COVID-19. These workers are not protected at work. We see this also for farm workers and other food processing workers. Food system workers were already the most abused, and least well-paid sector of our workforce, and now we have the pandemic, and the shut down, and the intensification of this terrible situation.
So like I said, I hate to end there, but I want you all to give us your thoughts about how we can move through this period, and what is the work that needs to be done at this time? Let's start with Ronnie.
I think one thing is that for 30 years a lot of us have been speaking out about the dangers of playing God, about the dangers of out-of-control genetic engineering. We did a pretty good job educating people.We’ve done a good job of educating people around the world about the hazards of genetically engineered foods and crops. You know and we've slowed down their attempt to totally take over agriculture, andl totally take over people's lives. But we failed in explaining to people something that scientists warned us about all along, which is it's dangerous to allow them to genetically engineer viruses, and bacteria, and fungi, and microorganisms as well.
We have a treaty, a 1975 global treaty, on a protocol banning bio weapons, and banning the production and research for offensive weapons. I think that lulled a lot of people into believing this was not happening, that there was no danger that could come out of virologists and laboratories all over the world. But what we have discovered is that yes, it's here. Again.
We need to point out to people again, or we need to deconstruct this official story around COVID-19. COVID-19 is not some act of god that sprung out from bats, and started infecting people. The overwhelming preponderance of evidence is that this is a terrible accident. A result of lab modification of viruses, weaponizing viruses. Don't let them get away with saying ‘This is biomedical research, this is research the people have a right to do.’ This is a bio weapon that went off. It's like an atomic bomb going off, because we were careless. We’ve got to deconstruct this story.
We've got to also cut through the lies of ‘What is this pandemic? How do you protect people from it? How do you treat it? What are we going to deal with in the aftermath?’ They are cramming down our throats genetically engineered vaccines, that have not been properly safety tested by companies, that have a long track record of mass murderer, criminal negligence by the Big Pharma companies. Behind the scenes, it's the military industrial complex that is funding the purchase of these genetically engineered vaccines that they're going to try to force on the public. These same old issues that we have always known were coming back to bite us. We're going to have to get through this period.
The worst thing about this pandemic is that they've managed to divide us in panic. Right now, in the United States, there is no communication going on between progressives, and leftists, and liberals, and conservatives, and libertarians. If we allow them to continue to divide and conquer us, things are going to get worse before they get better.
But I think we can overcome this. One thing we’ve got to do is reach out to the people we've educated in the genetic engineering campaign, and point out again that genetically engineered viruses, and bacteria, and fungi, and microorganisms are dangerous. That's why we need to go back to the global protocol banning bio weapons. And we need to add to that, things that never got in there like; mandatory inspection, random inspections when we suspect people are weaponizing viruses. We also need to take out the ambiguous language which allows scientists in China, or the U.S., or Russia, or Israel, or wherever they're doing this weaponizing of viruses, to claim that it's ‘biomedical research.’
Bill Gates, unfortunately predicted this pandemic with “Event 201” in October of 2019. They said ‘We're going to have a pandemic soon, and we better get organized so that we can turn it into the Great Reset.’ But Gates also said in April of this year, ‘This is Pandemic 1. He said we're soon going to have Pandemic 2.’ What's shocking about what Gates said, is when he was asked by Colbert, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘The next pandemic is going to be a bioterrorist attack.’ And so Colbert said, ‘How do we prepare for this?’ And he said, ‘The same way we would prepare for any terrorist attack.’
So the genie is out of the bottle; genetic engineering turned out to be just as scary as we were told it would be 30 years ago, but we got to deal with this situation. We’ve got to educate the public. I'm writing a book right now with Dr. Mercola on COVID-19 and deconstructing the official story, and laying out what really happened, and what really is needed: better public health, better food system, cleaning up the environment.
But as I pointed out earlier, we have to get beyond this fear. We’ve got to get united and organized locally. We all live in a million communities, so we have to work in our individual communities, but we have to get united regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Thank you, Ronnie. We had to say goodbye to Dr. Hans Herred. He's on West Coast time in the United States. It was 6 a.m. when we began, and he said he had already been on two hours worth of Zoom calls with his colleagues in Europe. So I'm sorry that we didn't get to hear last words from Dr. Herren.
But let's go to Andre Leu, how do we move through these extraordinary times? How does it refocus our work? What should we be concerned about now?
I'd like to just follow up with what Vandana said with the concept of “satyagraha,” which came from Mahatma Gandhi. That is, ‘nonviolent non-cooperation.’ We need to not cooperate. Gandhi used this to defeat the world's greatest empire, and bring down colonialism around the world. Then Martin Luther King Jr. used the same principles to end segregation in the United States and it was very effective.
Sorry that we lost Andre Leu but those were wise words. Dr. Shiva, what are your final thoughts for us?
If we look at, in the last century, where have things gone wrong? Because a handful of people, we call it fascism, a handful of people decided that other human beings were lesser than them. Hitler had his concentration camps, but the chemicals from Hitler's camps then became the basis of industrial agriculture. All the violence it has perpetuated on the world: driving species to extinction, driving instability in the climate with fossil fuel derived chemicals. You talked about the violence against those working in industrial farming systems. Agriculture does not have to be violent!
I think the two things we have to look into the future: I would say, once again, it's a fight for truth, and therefore satyagraha, civil disobedience against untruth. But it's also against violence and brute force. It's violence against the Earth, violence against those who work in agriculture, violence against our bodies and our health, and it's a violence against our minds. That's why we have to reclaim through satyagraha our food democracy, and create non-violent systems that regenerate the Earth, that regenerate our capacity to live at peace with the Earth.
I think this myth that ‘humans are the enemy of the earth,’ we have to put that aside. Some militarized humans have been the enemy of humans, and the Earth. It is now time to make peace with the Earth, and with each other, overcome fear, overcome divisions, realize we are one. We are one humanity, on one Earth, and that's why I wrote “Oneness versus the 1%.”
Well, thank you so much, Dr. Shiva, Ronnie Cummins, Andre Leu, Dr. Herren, and thank you to everyone who participated today online.
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