Oct 8, 2012 | Jo Confino
Sustainability pioneer Vandana Shiva speaks to Jo Confino about campaigning against seed slavery, corporations and patents
Vandana Shiva, one of the Guardian's Top 100 most inspiring women, is currently leading a campaign to create a global citizens' response on the issue of seed freedom.
In 1991, Shiva founded Navadanya, a movement which aims to protect nature and people's rights to knowledge, biodiversity, water and food. It does this by setting up community seed banks that generate livelihoods for local people and provide for basic needs.
Shiva, a scientist, philosopher, feminist, author, environmentalist and activist, explains why the two week campaign on seed freedom against major corporations, which culminates on World Food Day later this month, is so important and the consequences of failure.
Shiva calls for civil disobedience, quoting Gandhi who said that "as long as the superstition that unjust laws must be obeyed exists, so will slavery exist".
Why do you refer to the term seed slavery?
In another time, some people thought it was alright to own other people as slaves. In our times some corporations think it is alright to own life on earth through patents and intellectual property rights (IPR). Patents are granted for inventions, and life is not an invention. These IPR monopolies on seeds are also creating a new bondage and dependency for farmers who are getting trapped in debt to pay royalties. This is why 270,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide.