by Dr. Vandana Shiva – L’Huffington Post, 29 April 2015
The debate about who feeds the world is a debate in every country, every society.
The multinationals who brought us disease and malnutrition through chemicals and GMOs , through junk food and processed food have over the past few decades spent large amounts of money on advertisements and public relations, on lobbying and influencing policies to falsely claim they feed the world. They have joined hands to patent our seeds, to influence scientific research, to deny citizens the right to know though GMO labelling laws .
The multinationals who have destroyed our soils and our health are now coming to the EXPO.
70 multinationals are present at EXPO. Here is a list of a few of them: Mc Donald’s, Coca Cola, Monsanto, Syngenta, Nestlè, Eni, Dupont, Pioneer. These are more than enough to represent them all. Multinationals do not ‘feed the Planet’ as the Expo slogan proclaims. They starve it. The list of the sponsors of the Universal Exposition speaks for itself. Likewise, the construction of Expo has meant more land has been built upon/lost to agriculture and many hectares of fertile earth have been covered in cement. It is discouraging that for most of these the Universal Exposition is a chance to get people to consume more food. It is emblematic that a leading role has been given to those who offer nutritionally poor foods, loaded with fats and sugars and dangerous for our health, and above all, for our children’s, health.
What can be done to stop EXPO being the showcase of industrial agriculture and of those who think that the only way to feed the world is to choose what appears to be the newest technology or the most sophisticated new synthetic molecule? The answer seems obvious; to add to the mixture in the bag. Currently the list of events, debates and workshops in which to discuss and contribute to a wider, more inclusive and democratic vision of the problem, seems somewhat poor. It is a great paradox that both physically and culturally, farmers, (whether Italian, European or from any other part of the world), the very people who produce food for humanity and take care of the Earth, are excluded from EXPO. These are the smallholders who produce 70% of the food consumed globally and who are withstanding the global onslaught of industrial agriculture.
We must do everything within our power to defend an agricultural model based on family farming, as happens in Italy, in Europe and in many other countries. We must highlight the pride of many farmers/smallholders all over the world, who, in spite of enormous difficulties, have managed to hold on to their land which they farm in an organic and ecological manner. We must use the opportunity to contact those people who would otherwise know nothing of biodiversity conservation and who perhaps think that the food question is solely about what one manages to serve up on a plate, and not a crucial issue/central theme with the capacity to redefine both economies and democracies.
Should we, those movements and associations who have chosen to be present at EXPO, manage to open these doors to the world, explaining the lore/reasons of the Earth from which a new economic paradigm might sprout, then EXPO may become an opportunity. An opportunity to move on from the ‘slash and burn’ model, typical of a linear economy based on the extraction of resources, to the political and social circular economic model based on ‘returning’. It might be the chance we are waiting for to abandon the linear model which produces material waste (rubbish) and social waste (the poor, the outcasts, the destitute) and to finally close the ecological circle.
We will be at the EXPO to ensure that it is not just the multinationals’ whose voice will be heard. We bring the voice of the seed and the soil, the small farmers and the future generations. We add diversity to the dialogue. We will release the manifesto “Terra Viva” on 2nd may in the NGOs pavilion with an invitation to citizens everywhere to work towards a new vision, a new paradigm through which we end hunger and malnutrition by working with the earth, not declaring war against her.
This post is also available in: Italian