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Reclaiming Sovereignty: A CounterNarrative

Sagari R. Ramdas

Edited by Vandana Shiva
Women Unlimited, Delhi, 2015, pp. 380, Rs. 600.00


A representative from Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company that today controls 65% of the global seed market for maize and more than a quarter of the world’s commercial seed market, is on record to have defined the problem to securing a Global Intellectual Property Rights Agreement as: ‘Farmers save seeds’—and thus they offered a solution: ‘Seed saving should be made illegal’. This quote from the book Seed Sovereignty, Food Security, edited by Vandana Shiva aptly illustrates the global strategy of TransNational Corporations (TNCs) towards capturing control over seeds, the basis of life, farming livelihoods and food. This book authored exclusively by women scientists, activists and academics from the Global North and South, whilst analysing the history of ascendancy and hegemonic control of seeds by Transnational Seed Corporations, also offers a powerful counter-narrative of how farmers, scientists and other citizen-activists across the globe are organizing to reclaim sovereignty and control over seeds and food. Following Vandana Shiva’s introduction the book is divided into three sections: the first titled ‘International: Reflections on the Broken Paradigm’, the second and third titled ‘Global North’, and ‘Global South’ respectively. The first section discusses some of the serious challenges that exist within the global canvas of Corporate Industrial Chemical and GMO1 agriculture, farming and food: it begins with Moore and Lappes’s essay where they discuss the dangers of corporate chemical industrial agriculture and then illustrate agro-ecological efforts of farmers to take back control over their farming in Ethiopia, Niger, India and Brazil. Their choice of a World Bank funded progamme in India to illustrate a successful model of agro-ecology is however intriguing, as the same World Bank successfully destroyed farming livelihoods of India through supporting structural economic reform policies! The other four essays analyse the grave negative impacts of GMOs and associated practices, on people’s health and the environment, and raise fundamental questions on how biotechnology directly undermines the power of people’s choice. An excellent piece by Stephanie Seneff, which is as gripping as a detective novel, pulls together evidence to show a strong correlation between the expansion of the use of the herbicide Roundup Ready (with its active ingredient Glyphosate) on GMO corn and soya in the USA, and the growing prevalence of autism amongst children. She concludes with a strong argument that government bodies and other independent researchers examine further this possible connection. The contribution by Marion ...

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