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[Duurzaamlijst] Vandana Shiva: Violence of globalisation
On 2 Apr 2001, at 20:35, mailijst wrote:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (kees/ventana)
"At the World Court of Women, we declare that laws that force a
government to deny citizens the right to food and the right to
medicine are genocidal. Globalisation is a violent system, imposed
maintained through use of violence." - Vandana Shiva, March 8,
"Protection" has become a dirty word in the era of free markets and
globalisation. But, says VANDANA SHIVA, the spread of
has only led to new forms of violence against humanity.
Excerpted from testimony at the Women's Court, South Africa, on
THE HINDU, March 25, 2001.
Violence of globalisation
WE thought we had put slavery, holocausts and apartheid behind
that humanity would never again allow dehumanising and violent
to shape the rules by which we live and die. Yet globalisation is
giving rise to new slavery, new holocausts, new apartheid. It is a
against nature, women, children and the poor. A war which is
transforming every community and home into a war zone. It is a war of
monocultures against diversity, of big against small, of war time
technologies against nature.
Technologies of war are becoming the basis of production in peacetime.
Agent Orange, which was sprayed on Vietnam, is now being sprayed on
our farms as herbicide along with Round up and other poisons. Plants
and animals are being genetically engineered, thus making our fields
sites of biological warfare. And perverse intelligence is being
applied to terminate life's cycles of renewal by engineering
"Terminator" seeds to be sterile. As the violence grows, the stress on
societies, ecosystems and living beings is reaching levels of
breakdown. We are surrounded by processes of ecological and social
Witness the events of our times which are now front page news. Cows in
Europe being subject to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE),
millions of animals being burnt as foot and mouth disease spreads due
to increased trade, farmers in India committing suicide in thousands,
the Taliban destroying their heritage by vandalising the Bamiyan
Buddhas, a 15-year-old boy Charles Andrew Williams shooting his
classmates in a Californian high school, ethnic cleansing.
All these are wars of peacetime, occurring in our daily lives and the
last expression of violence in a system which has put profit above
life, commerce above justice, ethics and ecology as violent
technologies. Cows are herbivores, they are not meant to eat their own
carcasses. But, in an industrial system of factory farming globalised
under free trade rules of agriculture, it was "efficient" to grind up
the meat of infected sheep and cows and turn it into cattle feed. This
has spread BSE among cattle - a disease that can be transmitted to
Children should be playing with their friends. Schools are not
supposed to be war zones. But a culture of guns and violence, combined
with one that has focussed so exclusively on commerce and economic
growth and material accumulation, has left future generations uprooted
and unanchored, afraid and violent. Our children are robbed of
childhood. In Iraq, 12 children die every hour because of a trade
embargo. In other regions, children are being pushed into prostitution
or warfare - the only options for survival when societies break down.
Across the Third World, hunger and malnutrition has grown as a result
of structural adjustment and trade liberalisation policies. During
1979-81 and 1992-93, calorie intake declined by three per cent in
Mexico, 4.1 per cent in Argentina, 10.9 per cent in Kenya, 10.0 per
cent in Tanzania, 9.9 per cent in Ethiopia. In India, the per capita
cereal consumption declined by 12.2 per cent for rural areas and 5.4
per cent for urban areas. Denying food to the hungry and feeding the
markets is one of the genocidal aspects of globalisation. Countries
cannot ensure that the hungry are fed because this involves laws,
policies and financial commitments which are "protectionist" - the
ultimate crime in the globalisation regime.
Denying medicine to the ill so that the global pharmaceutical industry
can make profits is another aspect of genocide. Under the Trade
Related Intellectual Property agreement of the World Trade
Organisation, countries have to implement patent laws granting
exclusive, monopolistic rights to the pharmaceutical and biotech
industry. This prevents countries from producing low cost generic
drugs. Patented HIV/AIDS medicine costs $15,000, while generic drugs
made by India and Brazil cost $250-300 for one year's treatment.
Patents are, therefore, literally robbing AIDS victims of their lives.
However, in the world order of globalisation dictated by commerce,
greed and profits, it is providing cures through affordable medicine
that is illegal. India, Brazil and South Africa have been taken to the
WTO Court (the Dispute Settlement Mechanism) because they have laws
that allow low cost medicine to be produced.
At the World Court of Women, we declare that laws that force a
government to deny citizens the right to food and the right to
medicine are genocidal. Globalisation is a violent system, imposed and
maintained through use of violence. As trade is elevated above human
needs, the insatiable appetite of global markets for resources is met
by unleashing new wars over resources.
The war over diamonds in Sierra Leonne, over oil in Nigeria has killed
thousands of women and children.
The transfer of people's resources to global corporations also makes
states more militaristic as they arm themselves on behalf of
commercial interests, and start wars against their own people.
Violence has been used by the government against tribal people in
areas where Bauxite is mined in Orissa and in Koel Karo, where the
building of a large dam was stopped.
But it is not just non-renewable resources like diamonds, oil and
minerals which global corporations want to own. They want to own our
biodiversity and water. They want to transform the very fabric and
basis of life into private property. Intellectual Property Rights
(IPRs) on seeds and plants, animals and human genes are aimed at
transforming life into the property of corporations. While falsely
claiming to have "invented" life forms and living organisms,
corporations also claim patents on knowledge pirated from the Third
World. The knowledge of our mothers and grandmothers is now being
claimed as inventions of western corporations and scientists. The use
of neem (Azarichta Indica) as pesticide and fungicide, was claimed to
be an invention by the U.S.D.A. and W.R. Grace. India challenged it
and got the patent revoked. The seeds and plants of basmati have been
claimed as inventions by a U.S. corporation called Ricetec. And these
are only some examples of biopiracy which will lead to the absurd
situation where the Third World pays for knowledge that evolved
cumulatively and collectively. >From the Women's Court, we declare
that patents on life and patents based on biopiracy are immoral and
illegal. They should not be respected because they violate universal
principles for reverence for life and the integrity of a culture's
We will not live by rules that are robbing millions of their lives and
medicines, their seeds, plants and knowledge, their sustenance and
dignity and their food. We will not allow greed and violence to be
treated as the only values to shape our cultures and our lives. We
will take back our lives, as we took back the right. We know that
violence begets violence, fear begets fear, peace begets peace and
love begets love. We will reweave the world as a place of sharing and
caring, of peace and justice, not a market place where sharing and
caring and giving protection are crimes and peace and justice are
unthinkable. We will shape new universals through solidarity, not
Women's worlds are worlds based on protection - of our dignity and
self respect, the well - being of our children, of the earth, of her
diverse beings of those who are hungry and those who are ill. To
protect is the best expression of humanity. Those who have tried to
transform "protection" into a dirty word, the worst crime of the
global market place, see the protection of health, nutrition,
livelihoods all call for trade sanctions and "punishment" by the
W.T.O. and the World Bank.
To those who have tried to make the protection of life a crime we say
echoing Archbishop Tutu: "You have already lost. You need to get out
of the way so that we can protect each other, our children and life on
this planet." The future does not belong to the Merchants of Death -
it belongs to the Protectors of Life.
The author is director, Research Foundation for Science, Technology
and Ecology, New Delhi.
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