The Earth is living, and also creates life. Over 4 billion years the Earth has evolved a rich biodiversity — an abundance of different living organisms and ecosystems — that can meet all our needs and sustain life.
Land is life. It is the basis of livelihoods for peasants and indigenous people across the Third World and is also becoming the most vital asset in the global economy.
Globalisation and trade liberalisation policies have led to the privatisation of water and biodiversity and the concentration of land ownership in India, reversing six decades of land reform and introducing a new form of corporate zamindari -a feudal land tenure system- through instruments like "special economic zones".
The privatisation of the earth's resources is a recipe for famine and desertification, violence against women, hunger, and, as happens in India, the suicide of farmers.
False solutions to the climate crisis, like biofuels, will actually aggravate the problem while exacerbating inequality, hunger, and poverty, writes Vandana Shiva, author and international campaigner for women and the environment. In this article Shiva writes that biofuels contribute to the very global warming that they are supposed to reduce. And yet these biofuels are treated as a clean development mechanism for reducing emissions in the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol totally avoided the material challenge of stopping activities that lead to higher emissions and the political challenge of regulating the polluters and making them pay in accordance with principles adopted at the Rio Earth Summit. Instead, Kyoto introduced a system of emissions trading which in effect rewards the polluters by assigning them rights to degrade the atmosphere and allowing trading in these rights. Today, the emissions trading market has reached USD 30 billion and is expected to reach USD 1 trillion. Meanwhile carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase, as do profits from polluting industrial activities.
The pollution created by corporations must be recognised as their responsibility and liability, no matter where they create it. Transferring their pollution burden to the poor of the South is not equity, it is injustice, writes Vandana Shiva, author and international campaigner for women and the environment. In this analysis, Shiva writes that in times of globalisation, global corporations are the main economic players, not countries, and global corporations out-source their pollution to the developing world to save costs and maximise profits. The author coins the term \'\'equity schizophrenia\'\', by which corporate globalisers destroy equity to concentrate wealth and resources in the hands of a wealthy few, while they want the poor, whom they have dispossessed of their livelihoods and land, to share the responsibility for pollution, which the poor did not cause. This is hypercapitalism of wealth and resources and socialism of pollution. The poor lose their \'\'goods\'\' to the rich and inherit their liabilities.
Fifteen years ago at the Earth Summit in Rio the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Climate Change were signed. While they have evolved totally independently, they are intimately connected, writes Vandana Shiva, author and international campaigner for women and the environment. In this article, Shiva writes that while reducing climate impact, biodiversity also increases climate adaptation. Decentralised biodiverse systems are more resilient to climate change than centralized monoculture systems. Biodiversity provides an important adaptation strategy for climate chaos, and yet it is not even included in the discussion on climate change, which is focussed on pseudo-solutions such as industrial biofuels and carbon trading. We need to put biodiversity at the centre of climate solutions. Biodiversity conservation protects the diverse species that maintain the web of life on the planet. Biodiversity conservation removes poverty. And biodiversity conservation reduces the risks of climate change. These ecological and economic reasons should propel us to commit ourselves to the protection of biodiversity everywhere.
Fifty years ago no culture in the world ate soya. Today it is in 60 percent of all processed foods, writes Vandana Shiva, author and international campaigner for women and the environment who received the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) in 1993. In this analysis, Shiva writes that the promotion of soya in food is a huge experiment promoted with USD 13 billion of subsidies from the US government between 1998 and 2004, and USD 80 million a year from the American Soya Industry. Agro-giants Cargill and ADM are now destroying the Amazon to grow this crop. This is in turn destroying the planet\'s climate. In depending on monocultures, the food system is being made increasingly dependent on fossil fuels -- for synthetic fertilisers, running the giant machinery, and long-distance transport. Monocultures lead to malnutrition for the underfed and overfed alike. One billion people are without food because industrial monocultures robbed them of their livelihoods in agriculture and their food entitlements. Another 1.7 billion are suffering from obesity and food-related diseases.
Oil wars, water wars, land wars, atmospheric wars : this is the real face of economic globalisation, whose appetite for resources is exceeding the limits of sustainability and justice, writes Vandana Shiva, an author and international campaigner for women and the environment. Like oil, water is becoming a source of wars as it is commodified and privatised, dammed and transferred long distances. Every river in India has become a site of major, irresolvable conflicts over water ownership and distribution. The waters of the Tigris and Euphrates, which have sustained agriculture for thousands of years in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, have been the cause of several major clashes among the three countries. Trade liberalisation is allowing corporations to encroach on the ecological space of local communities, thus unleashing conflicts. The problem is not a shortage of natural resources but free trade and globalisation, corporate greed and partnerships between corporations and states to usurp people\'s resources and violate their fundamental rights. If globalisation is pushed relentlessly, these resource wars will grow and globalisation will be slowed to a halt by ecological catastrophes and conflicts over resources -- or, the movements for ecological sustainability and social justice will succeed in resisting globalisation\'s ecological overreaching by laying the foundations for an Earth Democracy in which we live lightly on the earth, and share her vital resources equitably.
As water scarcity becomes an increasingly urgent issue around the world, a recent ruling by an Indian high court provides a troubling perspective on how water rights can play out in contests between foreign corporations and local governments, writes Vandana Shiva In this article, Shiva writes that in 2000, Coca-Cola set up a plant in Kerala, India. Within a year the groundwater started to decline, and wells were polluted. After protests, the local government denied renewal of the plant\'s license and the Kerala High Court supported its action. On April 7, 2005, however, this decision was overruled by two other judges of the same court who placed Coca-Cola\'s right to use water over the local government\'s right to regulate water use. The issue is whether public regulation will be democratic and in the hands of local communities or whether they will be controlled through a state bureaucracy which can be corrupted and influenced by the power of corporations. The local government has taken an appeal to the Supreme Court. But the real judgment in this case will come from the people. Coca-Cola has unleashed a war against the earth, and the people of areas where Coca-Cola is mining water are committed to stopping the theft of their water and the hijack of their institutions.
India is being swept by an epidemic of biopiracy -- the patenting of indigenous biodiversity and traditional knowledge by global corporations, writes Vandana Shiva, author and international campaigner for women and the environment who received the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) in 1993. First it was the neem plant, then basmati rice. Now our wheat has been patented, Shiva writes in this article for IPS. Biopiracy is both legally and morally wrong. By allowing indigenous innovations to be treated as \'\'inventions\'\' of the patent \'\'owner\'\', biopiracy patents amount to the outright theft of India\'s scientific, intellectual, and creative achievements and must be challenged. The economic consequences are serious. In the short run, a biopiracy patent robs us of markets overseas for our unique products. In the long run, if these trends are not challenged and intellectual property rights systems changed to prevent biopiracy, we will end up paying royalties for what belongs to us and is necessary for everyday survival.
The World Economic Forum has designed a world centred on capital and the men and corporations who control it, writes Vandana Shiva, author and international campaigner for women and the environment who received the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) in 1993. In this column, Shiva writes that the rise of religious fundamentalisms, the growth of terrorism and violence, and militarisation and war, are inevitable consequences of an economic system which discounts peoples\' fundamental human and democratic rights, basic needs, and ecological security. The message of people to power is peace and non-violence. Violence is the means and end of an economy based on greed, economic dictatorship and militarism. Non-violence in both means and end is the choice of the people. Corporate globalisation needed militarism, explicit or implicit. When 25,000 Indian peasants are forced to commit suicide, when Korean farmer Lee sacrificed his life in Cancun saying \'\'WTO kills farmers\'\', globalisation is exposed as war by other means. When Halliburton and Bechtel emerge as the real winners of the Iraq war, it becomes clear that war is globalisation by other means. The struggle between people and capital is now an epic struggle between life and death. And it has just begun. This is the beginning of a new chapter of human history -- not \'\'the end of history\'\'.
The introduction into Iraq of Bechtel, a company which has a history of aggravating water conflict, is a recipe for disaster and long-lasting water wars, writes Vandana Shiva, author, international campaigner for women and the environment, and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) in 1993. Its 680-million-dollar contract for rebuilding Iraq includes but is not limited to \'\'municipal water systems and sewage systems, major irrigation structures, and the dredging, repair and upgrading of the Umm Qasr seaport\'\'. In this article for IPS, the author writes that if we go by the record of the company\'s water privatisation experience in Bolivia, Bechtel will try to control the water resources, not just the water works of Iraq, claiming ownership of the Tigris and Euphrates. The executives at Bechtel have thirsted for control over Iraq for over 20 years. In 1983 Donald Rumsfeld, Reagan administration \'\'special Middle East envoy\'\', met with Hussein to discuss a massive pipeline project proposed by Bechtel. Hussein eventually rejected the Bechtel proposal. Now again Donald Rumsfeld has \'\'taken care of business\'\' for Bechtel. As secretary of defence, he has overseen the war to remove the obstacle and Bechtel is rolling in.
Little more than two months from the start of the war against Iraq, the real victor is emerging: Bechtel, with its 680-million- dollar contract for \'\'rebuilding\'\' Iraq, writes Vandana Shiva, author, international campaigner for women and the environment, and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) in 1993. In a period of declining economic growth and a slowing of the globalisation juggernaut, war has become a convenient excuse for enlarging corporate rule, Shiva writes in this article. In essence, Bechtel was given a license to make money in a closed-door process restricted to a handful of politically-connected US companies. The Bechtel contract and the Iraq war which created the opportunity for \'\'reconstruction\'\' profits highlight the lack of democracy, transparency, and accountability in the way economic and political decisions are made by a US administration which has become indistinguishable from US corporations. A regime in which government becomes the instrument of corporate interests is no longer a democracy.
If it is to stop terrorising the weak and the powerless to pry open markets for rich corporations and rich countries, the World Trade Organisation must be reformed, writes Vandana Shiva, an author and international campaigner for women and the environment. In this article for IPS, Shiva writes that what is urgently needed to bring justice and fairness into international trade rules, protect the survival of Third World peasants, and defend the food rights of the poor is to lower production costs and prevent unfair competition from artificially cheap subsidised imports. While US and European subsidies have actually increased in the past year, countries like India have been forced to remove import restrictions and have seen domestic markets and prices collapse as artificially-cheap, heavily-subsidised products flood the market. Sustainable agriculture/organic farming along with import restrictions are the only guarantee for livelihood security and food security in the Third World, the author writes.
There are two paradigms vying for the future of food and farming: one is based on non-sustainable production on large-scale industrial farms with costly hybrid/genetically modified (GM) seed and agrochemical inputs, the other on small farms, ecological /organic internal inputs/systems which are low cost and accessible to poor producers, writes Vandana Shiva, an author and international campaigner for women and the environment. In this article for IPS, the author writes a deceptive productivity calculus has then been used to sell the bogus claim that without industrial agriculture, pesticides, and genetically- modified organisms (GMOs), the world cannot be fed. Quite to the contrary, the solution to hunger and poverty is the promotion of ecological, organic, biodiverse small farms which use less energy and fewer natural resources, reduce the costs of inputs, and produce more nutritional output per unit acre. While the conditionalities imposed by global trade and financial institutions are preventing the government from supporting the poor\'s access to adequate and nutritious food, they are promoting the diversion of subsidies from people to corporations. If we are to build food security upwards and outwards from the household to the community to national and global levels, the principle for trade and distribution must be localisation, not globalisation.
The genetic manipulation of food products could have terrible consequences for the planet and for people, but the corporations producing these transgenic seed varieties are only interested in profits, says noted a biotechnologist.