Note: “God move over,” indeed. Proselytizing abounds at the Tree Biotech 2013 conference here in Asheville. Due to massive protests throughout the week, the conference has been dominated by discussion on how to convert the GMO-skeptical public to “believe” in the mythical miracles of the bioengineered forest. So far, it looks like the gospel of truth is winning against the rhetoric of power.
-The GJEP Team
By Vandana Shiva, May 29, 2013. Source: Common Dreams
Technologies are tools for doing or making things. They are a means to transform what nature has given into food, clothing, shelter, means of mobility, means of communication. Technology is a means to an end; it is not an end in itself.
But when we stop perceiving technology as a means mediating between nature and human needs and elevate it to an end in itself, we falsely give it the status of a religion. The Green Revolution bred seeds to respond to chemical fertilizers — they were called “miracle seeds”. The father of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, called the 12 people he sent across the world to spread chemicals by introducing new seeds his “wheat apostles”. This is the discourse of religion, not of science and technology.
When the Green Revolution was introduced in India in 1965-66, no assessment was made of the impact chemical fertilizer will have on soil organisms, soil structure and the soil’s water-holding capacity. No attempt was made to compare the yields of Green Revolution varieties and the outputs of indigenous varieties and mixed farming system. When we started to conserve native seeds through the Navdanya movement in 1987, we found many of the indigenous varieties outperformed the Green Revolution varieties in grain yield. They also outperformed them in total biomass yield — this really matters because while the grain is eaten by humans, straw is food for soil organisms and farm animals. Our work on mixtures and biodiverse systems of farming shows that as a system, indigenous biodiversity produces more food and nutrition per acre.
If we had a scientific approach to making choices about the technologies we use to produce our food, agroecology would win hands down. But the Green Revolution is promoted blindly as a religion, and not on the basis of science. Why else would finance minister P. Chidambaram announce in his Budget speech that the Green Revolution, which has destroyed the soil, water, biodiversity of Punjab, would now be expanded to eastern India?