Politicians are often heard making lofty proclamations about the need to protect Mother Lanka. The foundation of Mother Lanka, as of any country, is Mother Earth. Tragically we have been allowing trans-national companies (TNCs) to gradually kill Mother Earth mainly by the excessive use of toxic agro-chemicals and now by the growing use of hybrid or genetically-engineered seeds.
One of India’s 21st century prophets, Dr. Vandana Shiva, - a crusader for organic or carbonic agriculture, the protection of natural seeds and Mother Earth - stunned an audience at the Central Bank Auditorium on Monday with her disclosures about how TNCs were continuing to plunder Third World countries like Sri Lanka through sophisticated forms of neo-colonialism.
For instance, some of the present day trans-national chemical giants had their roots in the world wars where they produce chemicals for weapons of destruction. Scores of millions of people were killed or injured, cultures and civilizations destroyed in those two horrible wars. After the wars, the chemical companies, driven by the greed for profit, were certainly not going to stop their business. So they continued it by producing chemical fertilizers, weedicides and pesticides. Thus what is happening now is the gradual poisoning of the soil, which means the slow killing of Mother Earth. It does not stop there. With the poisoning of paddy and other staple foods like gram and green gram, vegetables and fruits, millions of people are made victims of various ailments which often lead to death. So agro-chemicals and the genetically-engineered seeds are like weapons of mass destruction.
This horror of neo-colonialism became a full-scale though unseen war to plunder the resources of countries mainly in Asia and Africa, when the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) created the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the 1990s. Unlike similar institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the WTO has sweeping mandatory powers with Third World countries being forced to obey or face trade sanctions.
It is against this backdrop that Dr. Shiva warns Sri Lanka it would be a disaster if the proposed Seed Act is implemented. Under pressure from the Government ally the National Freedom Front and civic action movements, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has reportedly promised the proposed Seed Act will not be implemented. But at Monday’s seminar other speakers were sceptical, pointing out that political promises these days are meant to be broken and it will be no surprise if the Bill comes back like a modified seed.
If this Seed Act is implemented through the back garden our cultivators will not only become slaves of these demi-god TNCs, but it will also be an offence for them to keep or plant their own natural seeds.
Instead, they will be forced to buy the genetically-modified seeds of the TNCs and this island-in-the sun may be forced to sing the sinking banana boat song.
The people need to speak out and insist that the TNCs and their weapons of mass deception need to be rejected while Sri Lanka could get most of its food and nutrition from 4 million home gardens with thousands of trees, plants and herbs identified by our time-honoured Ayurveda.