Moving day of food sovereignty with the visit of Vandana Shiva and Marie-Monique Robin

16 de AUGUST, 2016

IMD.-FINCA’s series of conferences around Food Sovereignty began last Monday, June 6, at the Main Hall of the University of Buenos Aires’ School of Medicine (FMED-UBA). The event drew a massive audience thanks to the presence of world-renowned ecofeminist activist Vandana Shiva on her second visit to Argentina—the first one was in 1993.

The main issues Shiva offered her view on were: the hoax of Monsanto and agribusiness, organic agriculture gaining momentum, the role of women as guardians of seeds, and what she considers our greatest challenge today—to stop the war we are waging on the Earth.

Interviewed by journalist Soledad Barruti, Shiva recalled her involvement in Chipko, a female tree-hugging movement against deforestation. “That’s where I learned the power of working together,” she claims. She was emphatic in her denunciation against Monsanto, Coca-Cola, Bayer, among other corporations, from the very beginning of the lecture. She said that “Every agrotoxin has its roots in chemical warfare” and that, by promoting this bellicose idea, “We are made to believe that every insect is a pest, that every plant is a weed and that small farmers are enemies”.

She claimed that glyphosate is designed and developed to kill, and that coexistence between genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and organic agriculture is impossible, as talking about ecology and food sovereignty means talking about peace.

Another major issue under debate was ecofeminism: “Seeds have been selected by women generation after generation for thousands of years. Women account for 50-80 % of a country’s production, varying from country to country. And it’s women who are in danger. When society thinks it doesn’t need women, it breeds more violence. Ecofeminism is about acknowledging creativity amidst peace and saying "No" to war, both for men and women”. She further added that “Men also need to be freed from the patriarchal model”.

When asked about the future of green agriculture, Shiva feels optimistic, stressing that hope is in the joint action of scientists, nutritionists, healthcare workers, women and children. “Now is an important time. We know that what goes from the soil to the plant ends up affecting our health”.

Following the interview, the panel discussion “Women, Land and Nature. An Ecofeminist View” took place, featuring speakers Vandana Shiva, Ana Broccoli (Agricultural Engineer, Professor of the Independent Study Program on Food Sovereignty in FMED-UBA) and Carlos A. Vicente (pharmacist, member of the Say NO to the New Monsanto Seed Act, member of the Argentinian group Action for Biodiversity). It was moderated by Silvia Papuccio de Vidal (PhD in Natural Resources and an expert in gender, environment and food issues. La Verdecita farm’s Agroecology Vocational School).

The last activity of the evening was the Panel Discussion “Food Sovereignty: health threatened by pesticide use”, featuring the presence of: Vandana Shiva, Marie- Monique Robin (French research journalist, writer and filmmaker), Damián Verzeñassi (physician, university professor, director of the Socio-Environmental Health Institute, UNR), Miryam Gorban (B.A. in Nutrition, Chief Coordinator of the Independent Study Program on Food Sovereignty, FMED-UBA) and Ana Zabaloy (former principal of No. 11 school “José Manuel Estrada” in San Antonio de Areco; harmed by pesticide use). The moderator was Carlos A. Vicente.