Seed StoriesDr Vandana Shiva Inspires BENIH BALI Program
by Mary Jane Edleson
In August, Dr Vandana Shiva visited Jakarta, east Java and Bali, inspiring large audiences on the importance of our endless fight for seed freedom. Under a program entitled OUR SEEDS, OUR FUTURE: Strengthening Indonesia’s Food Sovereignty, several non-profit organizations, including Mantasa, Slow Food Bali and IDEP Foundation, collaborated to develop a special program in Bali. Besides making a powerful presentation at a Celebration Dinner and Seminar in Bali, Vandana Shiva visited the Greenschool and had a chance to tour the UNESCO living cultural rice producing area of Jatiluwih.
Dr Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned activist, philosopher, author, eco-feminist and scientist, who has obtained numerous awards for her work including the Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize), Time Magazine’s Environmental Hero and the Sydney Peace Prize.
“Seed freedom” has been Dr Vandana Shiva’s international campaign in recent years to counter the increasing monopolization of our food system by a small group of large corporations. The simple “seed” has been chosen by Vandana Shiva as the symbol of resistance to the accelerating momentum of the large corporate monopolies. She vigorously exclaims, “…if they control seed, they control our food. They know it, and it’s strategic. It’s more powerful than bombs, it’s more powerful than guns. This is the best way to control the populations of the world.”
Both the Keynote Presentation (at the Celebration Dinner) and the Seminar Presentation of Dr Vandana Shiva in Bali built awareness about the threats to our local (and world) food systems if large corporations continue to gain further monopoly control over seeds. She warned us that the impact of the expanding “seed monopoly” will be felt not only by farmers around the world, but pervasively through out all aspects of society, including creating limitations to access to “good & clean” food, along with exacerbation of the challenges of climate change, loss in biodiversity, accompanying increase in world hunger, and related social and environmental problems.
An outcome of the impressive OUR SEEDS, OUR FUTURE program in Bali was the announcement to soon create a local seed initiative, which would be called BENIH BALI.
We are proud to announce that October 16, 2014, in celebration of the United Nation’s World Food Day (with this year’s theme being “Family Farming”), BENIH BALI was officially launched at a Celebration Gathering in the company of several supportive organizations, local food producers, and enthusiastic individuals. A special vegetarian buffet dinner was served made from home garden vegetables that all came from organic, open-pollinated seeds. More celebrations are planned!