A Rousing Call for Local Food, Globally

Summary of Vandana Shiva film from CCEN at Visual Carlow

Dr. Vandana Shiva strolls through a plot of vegetables in a village in her native India; is interviewed on CNN; speaks at a UN conference in Geneva; visits a small village to help the women fight against a faceless corporation. One of the most prominent activists in the world, the breadth of her work over decades is impressive, her energy is unfailing, and her common sense and clarity are inspiring. Her power comes from working on behalf others, giving the voiceless a mighty voice on national and international stages.

That’s the gist of the film The Seeds of Vandana Shiva, screened recently at Visual Carlow. This was the second in a new series of environmental films for 2024 organised by the County Carlow Environmental Network (CCEN).

Devastating effect of false promises by powerful companies

One story in the film is about the devastating effect of false promises by powerful companies. “When you control seeds, you control life on Earth,” Vandana declares. This truth bomb explodes the false claims made by bio-engineering companies like Monsanto and Syngenta. Their lack of ethics in putting profit before people is old news, but the deeply damaging, unrelenting ways they go about it is boggling. Around 248,000 farmers in the Punjab committed suicide when they could not repay debts incurred from buying Monsanto’s products. Vanda’s weapon against this “seed dictatorship” was to encourage farmers to grow and save their own seeds. “We will be the change we want to see, and no-one will stop us,” she vows, echoing her compatriot change leader Mahatma Gandhi.

The film covers a series of such emotive stories, including the 1984 Union Carbide pesticide plant leak in Bhopal that caused close to 3,000 immediate deaths and half a million injured. Vandana also helps communities create change using their own resources. “When money is your master, then your conscience is no more your guide,” she says, explaining how participatory research from communities, who are the experts in local knowledge, completely bypasses the need to wait for funding that may never come.

Sharing thoughts and questions

After the film the audience is invited to share their thoughts, and the lively discussion quickly turned to our situation in Ireland, and how our priorities are reflected – or not – relative to the clear statements Vandana makes.

The question arose of whether Ireland saves seeds, and a handful of organisations were named, including Irish Seed Savers, Brown Envelope Seeds, Wildflowers.ie, and Seedie.ie. Given the changing weather patterns caused by climate change that Irish farmers are now experiencing, cultivating seeds that grow well in the local environment is a critical strategy to ensure food sovereignty at home.

Talamh Beo is a the Irish arm of an international network of local farmers and citizens fighting for food, fuel and fibre sovereignty. Creating food policies “for the people by the people” is a key goal. Seed sovereignty is part of the mission. The approach is to save seeds at garden, community and farm level, create networks of local seed savers, preserve crop diversity and share knowledge. This diversity helps to farm in ways which benefit and restore natural ecosystems and build soils, leaving the land better than when we started.

CCEN is a volunteer organisation, so the funds generated by generous raffle prizes are greatly appreciated to help us with our general administration costs. The lucky winners took home a Hidden Hearth Festival ticket (11th to 13th October at Lisnavagh House), a Bunbury Board, honey from the Carlow Beekeepers, and several trees from the Lion’s Club.

Missed the film? Watch it free at https://vandanashivamovie.com/watch-the-film/

What next from County Carlow Environmental Network

Mark your calendar – the next environmental film is Wednesday 25th September in partnership with Visual Carlow. Join CCEN’s growing community of environmentally conscious friends by signing up to the newsletter through ccen.ie or email info@ccen.ie.

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