Sustainable Agriculture for Food Security

Somehow we neglected the fact that healthy environment is necessary for healthy people. We’ve externalized the environment as if it was something outside us. But food is what connects the earth and our bodies. When we destroy the earth, we are destroying our health. We are destroying our economies.

I witnessed this over the last three (3) decades in my beloved country, India. And you are witnessing it in the Philippines. We share similar histories of small peasant agriculture trying to stay autonomous, sovereign, with an imperial part trying to take our freedom away. Today, of course, the imperial parts are the giant corporations colonizing every culture, every economy, everybody, every organism.

My work on saving seeds began because I believe life is about self- organization and therefore about freedom. The idea of corporations owning life, creating life is just so wrong; and so we create open pollinated community seed banks. In these many years of working with peasants in India, doing ecological agriculture research, we’ve found that the more bio-diversed the agriculture is, which is what small peasants practice, the more health it gives us. My research has also shown that today’s seventy-five percent (75%) of the planet’s destruction is directly related to the way we produce our food through industrial agriculture models and globalized trading systems ensured the world trade organization rules which should never have been accepted by any country because they were written by the giant corporations to maximize their control, maximize their profits. But in the process we have lost 92% of all our vegetable diversity, more than 80% of all our crop diversity. We have lost our soils, their health, and the living organisms. We have depleted water because these systems are very, very irrigation-intensive. And the water that leaves the farm is now contaminated with pesticides and nitrogen. Nitrate contamination is destroying our drinking water. It is destroying life in our water bodies and in the oceans, actually creating dead zones. And that same nitrogen fertilizer, that goes up to the atmosphere contributing to nitrogen oxide which is 300 times more deadly than carbon dioxide, is a greenhouse gas.

My book, Soil Not Oil, was an exploration of how turning to the soil can help us deal with climate change. Ignoring the soil and pretending that soil’s life can be substituted by chemicals, that illusion has contributed 50% of climate change. Where you have been victims of the cyclone Haiyan, we have been victims of the Orissa Super Cyclone of Nargis, Aila and they keep coming. They’re not going to go away unless we change the way we produce our food.

While destroying the environment, our farmers are being destroyed. India today has the tragic story of 300,000 farmers who committed suicide. In fact, I am in the land which is the capital of suicides in India, Marathwada. This is also the area where the highest acreage is under Bt cotton. Bt cotton is mainly designed for collecting royalties. Its effectiveness in controlling pests has totally failed. Even the government recognizes it. There are court cases going on right now about the super royalties collected for a failed technology between the government of India and the giant company, Monsanto.

Three hundred thousand (300,000) lives sacrificed? So companies can make huge money through toxins which are also destroying our health? More than 75% of all diseases today are called lifestyle diseases. What is honestly should be referred to as food-related diseases because that is the core-competent of what is destroying our competency lifestyles. Whether you look at cancer or you look at diabetes, and explosion on obesity or you look at hypertension and cardiac problems or you look at neurological disorders, the explosion in autism, Alzheimer’s and other diseases related to neurological degeneration, all of them are related to assaulting our bodies, not with nourishment, not with healthy food but with a toxic cocktail that the body cannot handle, synthetic molecules that our body does not know how to deal with. High-fructose corn syrup put into everything – sweetened, not sweet- taken out of corn which is GMO. You fought against the Golden Rice. Such a fake offer to solving the Vitamin A deficiency problem! It is hundreds of times less efficient than the biodiversity you can grow in the Philippines, we are growing in India.

The future is so clearly a choice between two paths. A path which will kill the planet, has already destroyed the planet 75% with 10% more increase in this toxic food supply system. We would have a dead planet! There’s no life in a dead planet! There’s no food in a dead planet! That system is also creating disease. The same companies that sell us the agri-chemicals are selling the pharmaceuticals also patented for them. It is a win-win- win. What is happening right now is health gets destroyed, they sell more drugs, they make more money.

We have another option. That option is the convergence of looking to producing healthy food as the first objective. We just launched a campaign against the import of GMO soya, which has overtaken our diets, to bring back our wonderful oil: seeds of sesame, groundnut, mustard, and coconut and linseed have so much more benefits. The false researches that these companies can buy, talked about our soils having cholesterol! No plant gives cholesterol. Cholesterol build up happens because of the imbalance in the diet.

What we are witnessing is ignorance – lies being sold in the name of science and public relations. That future where we don’t know what we’re eating. We don’t know what it is doing to our bodies. We are not allowed to know what is done to the planet: Fifteen percent (15%) of all greenhouse gases are coming from trashing the planet, for soya expansion in Latin America, palm expansion in East Asia. All of it is unnecessary because our small farms could produce better, healthier food. That’s the choice we must make through the true green convergence. On our small farms which are more productive, which produce more nutrition per acre, more health per acre, which give our farmers more wealth per acre, ten times more is what we witnessed with farmers when they have their own seeds, who don’t use chemical inputs and who practice fair trade and just trade. We have to build sustainable economies which are the only kind of economies that can sustain us.

Gandhi gave us three words that should be our direction for creating sustainable and green economies. He talked about Swadeshi which means both local living economies as well as making ourselves. We’ve got to start making our seeds again. We’ve got to start growing our food again. We’ve got to start processing and cooking our food. We’ve got to start taking control of the economy. Swadesh, self-organization – the nature of life that is self-organization, everything living- is intelligent. Everything living is self- organized and every living economy we build has to be a self-organized community, a self- organized solidarity economy, generating more wealth, circulating more wealth so there is no poverty.

In addition, he gave us the word Satyagraha, the force of truth. I have practiced it since this bombardment of toxic foods started in India. It means the willingness and courage to say no to unjust laws, to injustice, and to lies and untruth, flawed force. With our power, with our non-violent power, we can unleash our energies to change the system.

You must be logged in to view this content. Free Virtual Library Registration Here

Leave a Reply