In response to “Ecological Balance in an Era of Globalization” by Vandana Shiva.
To Shiva, ” [the] seed is the first link in the food chain. It is also the first step toward freedom in food” (507). Globalization has given way to corporations such as Monsanto, who have made seeding into an monopolized industry and have put small scale farming at risk all around the world. They claim their mission is to increase production in order to increase economic gain, but the results have been far from favorable for small farmers.
India understands what is at stake with companies such as Monsanto. As Shiva puts it, “the seed has become, for us, the site and the symbol of freedom in the age of manipulation and monopoly of its diversity […] In the seed, cultural diversity converges with biological diversity. Ecological issues combine with social justice, peace, and democracy” (507). As a result, many farmers in India have worked really hard in pushing back against Monsanto. In another piece called “The Seeds of Suicide: How Monsanto Destroys Farming,” Shiva points to 1988, the moment where the Seed Policy was imposed upon countries by the World Bank. This allowed Monsanto to enter India and make the following 5 changes:
- Indian companies were not locked into licensing agreements. Concentration over the seed sector also increased.
- Seeds became the intellectual property of Monsanto, which allowed Monsanto to begin the collect royalties, raising the cost.
- Open pollinated cotton seeds were then displaced by hybrids, including genetically modified hybrids
- Cotton had to now be grown as a monoculture, increasing its vulnerability to pests and disease, among many other negative effects.
- Monsanto began to use its public resources to push for genetically modified products through public-private partnerships. (Shiva)
All of these changes put Monsanto at an advantage, and subjected Indian farmers to a new way of farming that (in theory) was supposed to help, but in many cases left them in a worst position. The more Monsanto profits, the more debt the farmers are in (Shiva). For more on how this imposition has negatively affected Indian farmers, feel free to watch the documentary Bitter Seeds.
How do small scale farmers fight against such huge, monopolizing corporations effectively? Is it already too late?