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VANDANA SHIVA - European Social Forum - Firenze, 2002

Thank you very much. I've come all the way because I just want to express my very deep love and solidarity to the European Social Forum and all the initiatives, in spite of every attempt by all kinds of vested interests to kill this occasion.
When the powerful start to feel afraid of the ordinary freedom of ordinary citizens, then they start to panic when people start to gather, just to talk to each other, and find better ways to live, and create a better world. Because that's what we are here to do. I've some very very good news for you. Yesterday we managed to block the commercial release of the first gm food product in India. And it isn't that all the corporations had not mobilized fully. They mobilized in march, when Monsanto managed to get it's cotton cleared. But the experience of Bt cotton is such a good indicator of the false claims that drive the commercial products coming out of genetic engeneering, whether they be in medicine or they be through animal experimentation, or they be in manipulating the plants and our crop species. With Bt cotton and any Bt crop (Bt is the "Bacillus turingensis", the bacteria transfered to the plant) the main argument has been that it is going to reduce the use of pesticide: it is a pest resistent plant. It is going to increase yields, it is going to increase farmers incomes, and the figures that were generated in the trials which we know were caught up figures, but when only the company that is selling the product does the research and brings the data, you already have a ready made recipe for fraudulent research. Never in science has that been allowed, that those who will gain are the generators of information, are the judges about its autenticity, and its safety, and its necessity. Well, they said there will be 15 quintals per acre of cotton. A quintal is a hundred kg. They said there would be increased earnings of 10.000 rupies per acre for each farmer and there would be no attack of pest, no bullworm and it would be a wonderful world of pestfree agriculture, millionaire farmers ... We just finished to study (which is part of the reason we were able to block the commercial release of herbicide resistent mustard): the Bt cotton has given yields as low as 1.2 (average yield is 1.2) yields as low as 20 kg... One tenth of what they have promised. There are higher occurencies of pests in the Bt cotton fields than in any other cotton fields. In India we have lots of cotton varieties. We are the home of cotton. We have native varieties that don't need irrigation, don't need pesticide, we have all kinds of hybrids. Instead of farmers earning 10.000 rupies additional, they have lost 7.000 rupies. They have gone into losses of average 7.000 rupies. We are making a bill; we are making a compensation movement and we are organizing farmers to sue the companies, to say "you have made us loose this much with false promises now you pay up". And we are going to use this for strict liability being introduced in the area o genetic engineering. On our calculations roughly it is about 1.5 billion rupies of losses indian farmers have suffered in one season of one crop. And you can see if this kind of experiment done through commerce continues ... what kind of risks we are putting ecosistems at, what kind of risks we are putting our farmers at, and what kind of risks we are putting ourselves at, through the food. One of the very interesting discussions in this whole area of safety and risk of genetic modifications has been in the area of genetic contamination which entirely happens through pollination. Now the pollination data is very standard data: it has been used for seed breeding. Every country has its data on what distance is its safety distance for cotton, or for mustard, or for any crop. In the case of cotton the usual distance is 30 meters. Monsanto has been using a safe distance of 2 meters! We have watched: no birds, no bees, no butterflies .... In the case of the mustard that has just been blocked they were talking about 25 meters when the standard data impollination in mustard is 75 meters. So right from the very basic scientific issues the entire field is being built on fraudulent data. And I think this is a very very important aspect of it, because biotechnology as an industry is standing on the foundation of lies, and deception. This of course adds to the violence to nature, to animals, in the case of animal breeding, animal experimentation, animal genetic modification, and to biodiversity as a whole. I really personally don't make a difference between animals and plants. I believe ... I come from a culture where all beings are sacred. And in India we actually talk about 330 million divinities, which is approximately the amount of species on the planet. And everyone of them is a divinity, that the smallest blade of grass, the tiniest fungae in the soil deserves respectul relationship from the human species. And a careless technology, like Bt cotton, or any, or Bt corn, which contaminates the integrity of diverse corn varieties, starts to kill all kinds of species, starts to create virulent species. It is already based not just on the falsehoods of safety and of low risk or no risk, but also on violence as the very beginning of the manipulation. And talking about this violence I want to just remind you that when Newsweek, and Time, and all these magazines carried these cover stories of Dolly, with IanWilmut looking at the sheep,called golden rice and calling him "the Creator", and Dolly as "the Created", and with no embarassment talking of the "Second Creation", noone told the story that Dolly was one among 273 sheep. The other 272 were born deformed, mutilated, and had to be just killed. I was just reading on my way over an interview with one of the 2 people who are behind the so-called golden rice. And i'll come to golden rice separately. In the interview, the journalist asked him, he basically asked him: is it true that the transformation process in genetic manipulation is randome and there is no way to target the foreign gene to a precidse location in the genome, when you do genetic engineering? And this is what Mr.Bayer admits:"only one transformation event out of hundreds will make it into a product". One out of hundreds! When you do this with animals iy's basically meany! You are manipulating and then you are destroying, willingly, knowingly. The vitamin A is a very very interesting story. I mean: what we are really having in genetic engineering just now is that we don't have any gene therapy now: every experiment has failed, every experiment of gene therapy has failed. There was this recent story of that boy who was supposed to be cured of something and then ended up having cancer. there is a NIH review of gene therapies, because it is just not working. They talk of genetic engineering in human reproduction: even in in vitro fertilization they are not getting it right . There is this little newspaper clipping of a white couple in England that got white kids. because they got the wrong sperm. That's the level of reliability, in any case, and can you imagine if you are going to put more of our future in the hands of such careless technologies and careless manipulators, of sciences. So we don't have anything in health. We've got insulin and their debates about its safety....I know there's an entire group of diabete's patients who have organized to look at these impacts ... But in the field of agriculture we only have 2 families of applications: crops with Bt, the gene that produces toxic in the plants and crops with the herbicide resistance genes. Both of them are failing in delivering the promises and are only are being successful in creating superweeds and superpests. And even the industry now accepts: yes these are bad, but we can only get to perfection by trials; and then they always cite in debates to me: "you know, even when they brought aircrafts the first few failed. I said: "but they did not fly around thousands of passengers commercially while they were experimenting. You know: their aircrafts may have collapsed, one or two accidents may have happened but the person brought the risk of their experimentation. These guys are litterally taking off and it's like they are buying KLM and Lufthansa and everyone and with that experimental craft saying"you guys fly, we are just experimenting"! Who would get into an airline at that stage! Next generation, they are promising, is like vitamin A rice, golden rice, to get rid of nutricional deficiencies. And they have given the name neutraceuticals to this family . First they were going to bring us better food and we said "we don't want it; it's bad food, bad agriculture, crude systems, take it home". And now they say they are going to prevent blindness among thousands of third world children, and how can you be against that ... And I am against that because it is a very, very stupid application. Let me give you some figures of the stupidity of it all. After the genetic engineered white rice with yellowness of petunia to make it golden, they are dreaming that they are going to put 30 micrograms per 100 grams. And if you had to get the full requirement to not go blind and not have vitamin A deficiency, you would need to eat 3 kg. per day. Which means one child in one family ...you cannot eat 3 kg., anyway! ... But even if you could somehow genetically engineer the stomach to take it, you know the basic indian ration, the basic indian supply, is 10 kg for a family of 4 to 5. So one kid would be eating up everyone else's food ... that is hardly a way of getting rid of nutricional deficiencies. But the most important thing is you don't have absorbtion of vitamin A without fats! So when a journalist asks our brilliant scientist, mr. Bayer, he says "well, the utilization depends on other nutrients: you should ask the nutritionist that question." Now, here he is offering a solution to a problem and he doesn't even know how it works? Now I'll tell you how bad their ignorance is; let me give you examples of that ignorance. Everyone knows that ordinary rice is not polished; it has this brown covering, it has iron, it has provitamin A, it has betacarotene. And people have started saying "but if you don't polish rice you have already gotten vitamin A". He says "but you must polish rice, otherwise it will go rancid".
Poor Mister Bayer doesn't know oil goes rancid, rice does not go rancid! My home is a home of basmlent . we keep basmlent for 10 years. It's not like oil! And here we are putting our entire future of food and nutrition not in the legacies of our grandmothers and our cultures, but in the hands of 2 scientists that don't know how the vitamin that they are producing will be absorbed, who don't know what the crop they are dealing looks like, what it is like as a food. They don't know that thousands of times more vitamin A is available from other sources of biodiversity. Any green we use in indian cooking, whether it is coriando, the curry leave, any green we use has 14.000 micrograms, compared to 30 micrograms. Just compare 14.000 to 30. Now the tragedy is this stupidity ... of course the media is controlled, and we know how it is controlled to make it look like this room full and the many other rooms are rooms full of terrorists. But it is also controlled to make this stupid application that will create vitamin A deficiencies look like a solution to blindness. They have not gotten tired, they are bringing up article after article?This poor journalist must have been pressurized by his bosses, to put a whole page interview. But how is it all working? It is working because your money, your tax money is being used to send this to India. They are talking about in 3 years 4 years of time trying to commercialize this stupid idea. Your european community money is financing all this. That's how bad ideas can become dominant. And of course when bad ideas are financing very big realties, they will kill good ideas. They will destroy options of women having seeds of their vegetables, that give them far more vitamin A. They will destroy the idea of kitchen gardens, they will destroy all the nutritional litteracy that cultures have evolved. And when this will not work, they will pay another set of scientists a little more money, and some corporations a lot more money, to say "save humanity". One of the issues that has been made very big, in vitamina A golden rice, is it is going to be given for free to third world peasants. But they haven't said there will be no patents on it. The patents are still very much there. What's happening in vitamin A rice is exactly what's happening with the AIDS drugs. You remember last year, in the run-up to the Doha ministerial on WTO. There were intense battles on the patenting of AIDS drugs. And the whole issue was that in a country like India, where we make generics, we can produce AIDS therapy for 200 $ per year. The same thing under patents costs 20.000 $. And quite clearly at 20.000 dollars most people can't afford it. And Mr. Bayer says "We are not going to make this for money. Do you think anyone would ever make money out of AIDS drugs? But people are making money out of AIDS drugs! When South Africa started to import drugs from us, 24 pharmaceutical companies joined together to sue them. When Brasil passed a presidential decree to make AIDS therapies available to people universally, they were threatened by the US. We, of course, have had a US dispute initiated against us, for having a low cost medicine. It's treated as a crime.
And it's often defined as piracy. But it's not piracy, because: how do generics get made? If I had made something, you get to know: yes, that is something that can be made. You find new ways to make it. Finding new ways is called a process patent. That you can have an exclusive right to a process of making something, but you cannot have an exclusive right to a product "no matter how it is made".. Now the big corporatioons - which have reduced themselves to 5 giant concentrations, combining agrochemicals, biotechnology, sciences and veterinary medicine, pharmaceuticals, all togetheer , controlling health and food - those companies got into the WTO rules criteria and global laws that would make it illegal for any country to have process patents, to have product patents. So no matter how a seed has been made, if a company has a patent, anyone else having that kind of seed or that kind of trait in the seed is a thief. If a medicine has been made and I get a product patent, someone else can do things in a different way, but they will still be treated as pirates. And we always say in India: no. It needs ingenuity to find a new way. It still needs innovation to create generics. Because of this huge debate, the medicine issue did become very very big in the WTO ministerial in Doha. But all they did was have a declaration and the declaration said WTO does not interfere in the right to medicine. It does. They have a false declaration; But there other problems with the property rights - it is called intellectual property - and the reason the Treaty is called TRIPs, Trade related intellectual property rights is because when they brought this to the GATT at that time, countries like India said "intellectual property is in the domestic law: it cannot be made part of international treaties". So the americans just went back to Washington, a few lawyers added "trade related" as a prefixe and said "now it's trade related, now we can negotiate it as a trade issue". Investment was the same. You rememeber the big MAM fight in WTO? How did investment come in? They said "trade related investment measure" so you have Trips, you have Trims, by putting TR before anything. Before anything. Our gathering here can be trade related, that we are interfering in market. Of course, we are: that's why we are gathering. And under this trade related intellectula property rights, patenting of life has become obligation. Not patenting life has become illegal. The moral has been made immoral and the crime has been made a duty. And the duty has been turned into a crime. Look at the issue of seeds. In India I mean every seasons this is one of my favorite things, going into a rural area and spending time during the cultivation seasons, during seasons when we sow. Because theere's such beautiful ceremonies for sowing! Where every seed is worshiped. And the prayer that peasant women say to the seed, because they are usually the sowers of seed and the keepers of seed. They say "may the seed be exhaustless , may the seed never ever get extinguished. And in fact we have in many of our writings the same. They say "if you allow the seed to be destroyed, you are committing a sin". This is the reason why when we had a war, when Nepal had a war with my region, because I am from the Himalaya, people died of hunger but their seed bins were found intact! They never touched the seed. But under the new laws saving seed is a pec: intellectual property crime. A farmer is not allowed to save seed and the worse case of this situation is the canadian Percy Schmeiser, whose fields were contaminated by Monsanto's Roundup-resistent canola. His canola was destroyed and instead of him being paid compensation by Monsanto for destroying his crop, Monsanto sued him and got him fined for 200.000 $, saying "the genes that reached your fields have reached them without our permission and therefore you are a thief". And the Court ruled in Monsanto's favor. Even pollution, where the companny should be paying according to the polluter-pays principle, even pollution is treated as an expantion of the intellectual property empire. It's like a company that's pouring mercury into a river instead of paying penalty to residents who are getting toxics, using that contamination to say "now I own the river" . This is the logic that they are applying in the area of life and genetic resources. The other problems with patents on life are because the industrialized vest has basically been the chemical civilization for the last century. The only place where biodiversity, and knowledge for its use for medicine, for diverse foods, survives is third world societies, especially in women in third world societies. They are the ones that still recognize plants for their healing properties, they are the ones that still recognize the hundreds of crops that are useful for nutrition; not the seven that are treated globally, but the thousands that can grow on the farm, and because the knowledge of biodiversity lies really...between the poor communities of the south, who had no capital but had biodiversity, when patents become expanded to genetic resources living material it also leads to this epidemic, what we have called biopiracy, the theft of knowledge from third world communities and its monopolization, and the 2 very big cases we have fought, and one we have fought for ten years, the other we fought for four years, and that's why for us 10, 20 years of struggle does not really matter. We are not here for the short run. We are here for the long run. One was the case of neem, which is a treee that we use for medicine and pest control; it's called the village farmers tree. And in 1984, when we had the Bhopal disaster and the Union Carbide plant leaked and killed 3.000 people immediately and 30.000 people since then, we started a capmpaign called "no more Bhopals: plant a neem" because we knew there are no other ways to control pests. And 10 years later I found a US government and WR grace and hundreds of others who are taking patents on our neem and its uses. So we filed a challenge and we filed it with the Greens in the European Parliament and with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, and with the solidarity - someone brought the knowledge, someone brought the money, someone brought the lawyers - we created a team that took the biggest government and one of the biggest chemical industries to court and defeated them. The other case case was the case of basmati, this aromatic rice that grows in my valley and if you thought Texas produces just one kind of problem, listen to this one; there is a company in Texas called rice-teak. They are taking rice from nature and put it into teak. But all they do with teak is to pirate the rice from us, claim it to be their invention and in the invention they claim the aroma of the rice, the height of the plant, the lenght of the grain , even the methods of cooking . When we saw that patent, of course, we started a huge campaign, we started legal cases and eventually last august the majority of those very false claims had to be dropped. Now if you take this back to what I said about product patents: if this company had got ... if this patent had not been defeated, using this false patent they would have come and sued us because we had the original traits and they would have the product patent and would have said "you are stealing our property", when they are the ones that stole from our commons. The point is: in any case in life there is no invention. Life is not a manufacture. The US and the biotech industry insist on defining life as manufacture. That is why reductionism and mechanistic paradigms are key to their property of rights. They need reductionism to assert property. But life is not collections of genes. Life is interactions that make the miracle of life happen. A self organization of a miracle of complexity, of dynamism, of constant evolution and adaption And that is why to apply the intellectual property of invention to life I believe is false from the very beginning. It's wrong, because life is not an invention. In any case all species have their intrinsec worth. Morally and ethically there is no ground to say so and so plants, so and so sheep, so and so cow, si and so mammmalian bioreactor. The mammalian bioreactors are all mammary glands of all species. There are patents on it: the people who cloned Dolly. All species, all life has intrinsec worth, and cannot become the property of another species. In that reductionist way. But it's also connected to human rights; it's connected to intrinsec rights of all species, intrinsec values of all species. The fact is that we must really build a strong movement against patenting life. It's also vanishing the human rights of people to basic food health and livelihoods. . Because patents on medicine take medicine beyond the reach of people. Patents on seeds take seeds beyond the reach of growers and farmers. High cost seed has alredy become the single most important reason indian farmers for the first time in indian history are committing suicide. You know, we are the land od carma, where we believe 3 lives from now things will be sorted out. We don't commit suicide. We are not that kind of people. But today, under the control of corporations and the high debts, linked to these costly seeds and pesticides, indian farmers are committing suicide. Because now they are brought into the marketplace of perennial debt, rather than evolutionary settling of your good and bad deeds. I personally believe and all our movements in India are organized around this fact, that the right to food, the right to water, the right to air, the right to health, the right to life, is a natural right. It is not given by states, it cannot be bought in the marketplace. It is a natural right linked to our birthright, linked to our being part of this planet and of other species, part of the earth family. And as a natural right, intellectual property rights infringe on these natural rights. You know over the last decade the discussion on free trade kept making everything we did look like an interference in trade. When we are talking about building another world - and another world is possible - we basically now have to start saying: we respect life, patents are an infringement on our respect for life. We have a basic right to food and health, your patents are an infringement on our human rights. We have a duty to protect other species. Your patents and genetic modifications are an infringement on our duties and responsabilities to all life on earth.They are the infringers, they are the interferers, not us. We want to live in peace with all species, and as very very diverse people are celebrating water both our diversity and our solidarity. Thank you.

Starting '92, when the WTO was first formed, when the GATT was first concluded in the European Round, we started what we called the besantiagré. We said this is immoral, we are not going to obey your patents on life. And I have some of those, and on the rice, which also is about all food, we also have a big campaign in third world countries, saying no patents on rice, no patents on staples, no patents on seed, and I really hope this will be a very big outcome of the European Social Forum, because if you withdraw your consent to your money being used to create these structures we will also be liberated along with you.

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