As Zimbabweans become increasingly concerned about the links between health and food production methods, the visit to our capital by eminent scientist Vandana Shiva next month is opportune. Dr Shiva is best described as a food sovereignty activist who champions the rights and challenges of food producers and the acceptance of indigenous farming knowledge alongside scientific advancement.
Unlike many activists, Shiva comes from a strong scientific background with degrees in physics and philosophy of science and is the founder of the Indian Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology. This organisation has led to the development of Navdanya, a movement to promote the diversity of native seed, organic farming and fair trade. Dr Shiva is an inspiring speaker and a prolific author with thirteen books and over 300 published articles to her name. She has won numerous international awards in recognition of her achievements including the Right Livelihood Award in 1993 and, in 2003, Time Magazine named her an environmental hero.
Dr Shiva is an outspoken critic of Green Revolution agriculture which was developed in the 1970s aimed at alleviating hunger in ‘developing’ countries through the promotion of hybrid crop varieties, irrigation, fertilisers and pesticides. Shiva argues that instead of making farmers wealthier, Green Revolution technology has actually exacerbated poverty, environmental destruction and human health problems. Shiva also contends that genetically modified organisms (GMOs), such as herbicide and insecticide resistant crops, make farmers more dependent on expensive agricultural chemicals because pests and weeds evolve. She highlights the threat to biodiversity posed by GMO promotion through genetic pollution and the violation to farmers’ rights to grow food crops, which are patented by multinational companies. She also queries the claims made by GMO proponents in terms of boosting nutrition, reducing the need for agricultural chemicals and being tolerant to climate change saying that these claims are not based on sound science.
During her visit on 6 and 7 June, Dr Shiva will share her ideas and experiences with Zimbabweans from all sectors of society including smallholder farmer organisations, key decision-makers and the media. She will address a not-to-be-missed public event on the afternoon of Saturday 7 June, from 2pm at the Book Cafe, showcasing the work being done by Zimbabwean smallholder farmers in promoting healthy indigenous foods and biodiversity through saving seeds from a wide range of crops.
For more information contact Anna Brazier on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pic credit: VOCES, via Flickr Creative Commons.