Today is the beginning of the Fortnight of Action for Seed and Food Freedom, initiated by one of my heroines, Vandana Shiva.
Today, October 2, is also the anniversary of the birth of Mohatma Ghandi.
“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problem.” – Mahatma Gandhi
This morning my daughter and I were talking about his legacy. He inspired a whole lineage of peacemakers, including Martin Luther King, Jr and Vandana Shiva. Sometimes I even conclude that Ghandi-ji reincarnated into the soul we know as Vandana Shiva. She carries his spirit of peaceful and powerful non-violent action with such fervor.
Ghandi has always been an inspiration. His development of the philosophy and practice of “Satyagraha” has roused deep introspection into how these principles could shape my life’s work.
Gandhi called his overall method of non-violent action Satyagraha. This translates roughly as “Truth-force.” A more complete way of wording would be “the force that is generated through adherence to Truth.”
For Gandhi, non-violence was the word for a different, broader concept-namely, “a way of life based on love and compassion.” In Gandhi’s terminology, Satyagraha-Truth-force-was an outgrowth of nonviolence. Gandhi practiced two categories of Satyagraha in his mass campaigns. The first was civil disobedience, which entailed breaking a law and courting arrest. He was insistent of many guidelines and rules: no destruction of property; no secrecy, no hostile language, unjust laws were to be broken, not blatant disregard of all law.
For Ghandi, civil disobedience aimed at “changing the heart” in either the opponent or the public.
The second strategy was non-cooperation, which often took the forms of boycotts, tax refusals, and strikes.
The theory of satyagraha sees means and the ends as inseparable. The means used to obtain an end are wrapped up in and attached to that end. It is paradoxical to try to use unjust means to obtain justice or to try to use violence to obtain peace.
Ghandi spoke of his definition of satyagraha as: “Truth (satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement Satyagraha, that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non-violence, and gave up the use of the phrase “passive resistance”,
In March of 1999, on the anniversary of Ghandi’s Salt Satyagraha, thousands of organizations and activists joined hands with Navdanya (India’s grassroots seed bank network) to launch the Bija (Seed) Satyagraha. This is a movement to defend our human rights and freedoms to seed, biodiversity and ecological knowledge.
Since the launch of this Seed Satyagraha campaign, we are seeing a greater need for the global community of farmers and gardeners to unite in solidarity to uphold our rights to save and steward seeds.
We are in the midst of an impending Global Seed crisis. In the last 20-30 years we have seen an unprecedented erosion of farmers rights to seeds. Across the globe, new seed laws are being introduced which enforce obligatory registration of seed, which makes it nearly impossible for small farmers to grow their own diversity, and further strengthens the dependency on giant seed corporations. We are also seeing a rapid increase in the patenting of seeds. Not only are we seeing patenting of GMO seeds, there is also an increase in patenting utility traits in seeds.
As Vandana Shiva so rightly states: “Patents on seeds and genetic resources rob us of our birth right and deprive us of our livelihoods by transforming seed saving and seed sharing into intellectual property crimes. This is an assault on our culture, on our human rights, and on our very survival.”
What are ways that I see myself participating in this Global movement of peaceful resistance?
-Teaching my children( and others) to save seeds
-Engaging other in constructive dialogue of how we can build a Regenerative Seed system.
-Being a Seed Keeper with the intention of service to the greater good and community.
-Collecting seeds and stories to carry on into future generations
-Boycotting companies like Monsanto who are actively robbing us of our rights to save seeds
-Writing to illuminate this crisis to others in our local and social media community
-Consulting with other seed activist groups to create bio-regional seed collectives and cooperatives
-PLANTING and SAVING SEEDS!! This is our most peaceful form of activism!!!!
-Creating a safe haven for the seeds on our land, in the form of a on-farm seed bank.
-We are working on a plan for our Yuba Watershed Community Seed Bank. Sierra Seeds will be a proud sponsor and umbrella for the organization. We will be actively looking for a centrally located space in which we can house the seed library and seed bank. It will be a resource center where people can gather to share skills and knowledge. Please be in touch if you have ideas of such a space, or want to become a volunteer or “Seed Satyagrahi” of this Yuba Watershed Community Seed Bank.
May we continue to inspire and cultivate the reverence for these sacred seeds. These seeds are at the foundation of life, and we honor them as our living breathing relatives. They are a representation of both our ancestors and our future children. The seeds bridge the gap between the ages, and we are eternally grateful to them. We will be the peaceful warriors of the Seed. We pledge our allegiance to the Seeds.
“Seeds are also a vessel that carries the past, the accumulated vision, and knowledge and practices of peasant and farming communities worldwide that over thousands of years created the basis of all that sustains us today. ” ♥ ”-La Via Campesina
To inspire this amazingly heartfelt movement of Seed Stewardship, here is a video from the Seed Freedom webpage:
Declaration on Seed Freedom
• Seed is the source of life. It is the self-urge of life to express itself, to renew itself, to multiply, to evolve in perpetuity in freedom.
• Seed is the embodiment of biocultural diversity. It contains millions of years of biological and cultural evolution of the past, and the potential of millennia of a future unfolding.
• Seed Freedom is the birth right of every form of life and is the basis for the protection of biodiversity.
• Seed Freedom is the birth right of every farmer and food producer. Farmers rights to save, exchange, evolve, breed, sell seed is at the heart of Seed Freedom. When this freedom is taken away farmers get trapped in debt and in extreme cases commit suicide.
• Seed Freedom is the basis of Food Freedom, since seed is the first link in the food chain.
• Seed Freedom is threatened by patents on seed which create seed monopolies and make it illegal for farmers to save and exchange seed. Patents on seed are ethically and ecologically unjustified because patents are exclusive rights granted for an invention. Seed is not an invention. Life is not an invention.
• Seed Freedom of many diverse cultures is threatened by Biopiracy and the patenting of indigenous knowledge and biodiversity. Biopiracy is not innovation – it is theft.
• Seed Freedom is threatened by genetically engineered seeds which are contaminating our farms, thus closing the option for GMO-free food for all. Seed Freedom of farmers is threatened when after contaminating our crops, corporations sue farmer for “stealing their property”.
• Seed Freedom is threatened by the deliberate transformation of the seed from a renewable self generative resource to a non renewable patented commodity. The most extreme case of non-renewable seed is the “Terminator Technology” developed with aim to create sterile seed.
• We commit ourselves to defending seed freedom as the freedom of diverse species to evolve; as the freedom of human communities to reclaim open source seed as a commons.
To this end, we will save seed. We will create community seed banks and seed libraries.
We will not recognize any law that illegitimately makes seed the private property of corporations. We will stop the patents on seed.
What are ways that you see yourself participating in this Global movement of peaceful resistance? I would love to hear from you!!!
In solidarity with the seeds and seed stewards all over the globe today!! La Semillistas Unite!!