Another very big challenge is the issue of distorted subsidies. Over 400 billion dollars is spent by rich countries for agribusiness to produce food at a very
high cost, because the seed is patented and chemicals are used. How does high-cost agriculture become cheap food on our supermarket shelves? Because of
two factors: subsidies and monopolies.
That is the big challenge for the organic movement. We are repeatedly told
organic is too costly. And I keep saying that poison is too cheap. It doesn’t internalize the cost of health damage, it doesn’t internalize the cost of environmental damage and it definitely doesn’t internalize the cost of our taxes. Four
hundred billion dollars in today’s world could save so many jobs, so many
homes, so many pensions. It’s irresponsible and criminal to use our tax money
to push poisons on us and then distort the price of food. India spends one trillion rupees in subsidies for chemical fertilizers. One trillion rupees. We’ve got
to get rid of these perverse subsidies so that organic can have a level playing
Most people don’t know that the World Trade Organization created an intellectual property rights treaty for patenting seed that was written by Monsanto.
They made it a criminal offense for farmers to save seed. They turned seed into
their intellectual property. Cargill wrote the agriculture agreement, which is
about market grab, which allows the destruction of small farms. When a giant
company is the only player in town, it buys at what rate it wants to. It forces you
to grow only corn or soy and then buys it at a dirt-cheap rate.
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OP: Why is it now time for organic more
Shiva: It is organic’s moment. There is
pollution and toxins coming from industrial agriculture and only organic
can both reduce the toxins as well as
adapt to the changes. Secondly, it’s a
moment for the organic movement because of the economic crisis we are facing. Industrial agriculture is becoming
more chemical intensive, more mecha-nization-based and less and less peo-ple-based. People think green jobs are
about building, but the real big green
job is organic farming. And that means
every government should orient its
financing to deal with the economic
crisis, not through bailing out the
banks, but by creating public support
The third reason why this is the moment for organic is because a distorted
economic system, based on giant subsidies, based on monopolies, is causing
so much harm and governments are
running short of money. They have no
excuse to be putting our scarce money
into subsidizing toxics and concentrated corporate power.
If we are short of public financing,
then we should shift from a high-sub-sidy-based industrial ag, to a low-input
There needs to be synergy between
solutions. We need to start working,
not across the food chain, because the
chain is what agribusiness created.
Instead, we need to embrace the organic concept of a food web and look
at the food system holistically and
stand together as one big political
force for the future.
We need to take inspiration from
movements for justice. The biggest justice movement is Occupy at this point.
As I told young people in the Occupy
movement, it's not enough to occupy
Wall Street, it’s not enough to occupy
town squares, we need to occupy our
food system, occupy the soil…occupy
the stomach! o