We need to decolonize our food cultures and our minds of food imperialism, writes Vandana Shiva.
By Vandana Shiva
Independent Science News
Food is not a commodity, it is not “stuff” put together mechanically and artificially in labs and factories. Food is life. Food holds the contributions of all beings that make the food web, and it holds the potential of maintaining and regenerating the web of life. Food also holds the potential for health and disease, depending on how it was grown and processed. Food is therefore the living currency of the web of life.
As an ancient Upanishad reminds us “Everything is food, everything is something else’s food.”
Good food and real food are the basis of health.
Bad food, industrial food, fake food is the basis of disease.
Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine.” In Ayurveda, India’s ancient science of life, food is called “sarvausadha” the medicine that cures all disease.
Industrial food systems have reduced food to a commodity, to “stuff” that can then be constituted in the lab. In the process both the planet’s health and our health has been nearly destroyed.
This project aims at enhancing the competiveness of agricultural value chains in Pakistan with a focus on horticulture and livestock including dairy, meat and fisheries. (USAID Agribusiness Project, via Wikimedia Commons)
Seventy five percent of the planetary destruction of soil, water, biodiversity, and 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial agriculture, which also contributes to 75 percent of food-related chronic diseases. It contributes 50 percent of the greenhouse gases driving climate change. Chemical agriculture does not return organic matter and fertility to the soil. Instead it is contributing to desertification and land degradation. It also demands more water since it destroys the soil’s natural water-holding capacity. Industrial food systems have destroyed the biodiversity of the planet both through the spread of monocultures, and through the use of toxics and poisons which are killing bees, butterflies, insects, birds, leading to the sixth mass extinction.
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In March 2019 two law firms filed cases at the ICC against Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad and unnamed members of the Syrian government. Toby Cadman of Guernica Chambers and Rodney Dixon of Temple Garden Chambers were the protagonists in this latest attempt to criminalise the Syrian President and government.
These law firms are basing their case upon the testimony of 28 “refugees” from Syria who claim they were “forced” to flee to Jordan during the war that has been waged against Syria by a collective of interventionist mafia states that form the U.S coalition, determined to achieve regime change in Syria.
Syria is not a signatory to the ICC in the Hague but precedent was set by the ICC when a preliminary investigation was opened into military leaders of Myanmar for alleged crimes against humanity involving deportation of Rohingya people. Refugees fled to Bangladesh which is party to the Rome statute that established the ICC, as is Jordan where more than 1 million Syrian refugees now reside. Guernica Chambers and Rodney Dixon are clearly hoping that the Rohingya precedent will open up the legal avenue for their case.
Both legal firms are claiming the intended deportation of Syrian civilians by the Syrian government as part of their cases.
However, even some members of the legal profession, have already remarked upon possible holes in the case being presented by both legal entities.
Kevin John Heller is Associate Professor of Public International Law at Amsterdam University. According to Heller, there is a vital element of the Syrian situation that distinguishes it from the Myanmar situation. Heller argues that in Myanmar, it is evident that the government “intended to drive the Rohingya into Bangladesh” while in Syria it is not evident that the Syrian government intended (in the legal sense) that their civilians end up in other countries. Heller points out that without sufficient evidence, the Syrian government may only be accused of “forcible transfer” but not “deportation”. “Forcible transfer” falls outside the ICC’s jurisdiction because it takes place uniquely on Syrian territory.
This is not the first time that Guernica Chambers (GC) have attempted such a legal attack against the Syrian government. In March 2017, the Madrid offices of GC tried to bring a case against eight members of the Syrian security and intelligence services.
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The untamed desire of the Trump administration to impose all sorts of conditions and restrictions on the way that Europe operates is clearly leading to an abrupt increase in anti-American moods across various social layers of the European society. Practically speaking, there’s an avid hatred visible all across the EU towards Trump’s use of the ‘Al Capone approach’ , which is typical for American businessmen who would try to brute force their way into foreign markets and influence them in any way possible.
Even before the European Union created a vehicle to bypass American sanctions against Iran last January, it was clear that Washington wasn’t simply trying to inflict maximum damage to Tehran, as many EU companies found themselves starring down the barrel of American gun. However, there’s no denying that the special purpose vehicle known as INSTEX (Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges) did come in handy, as German, French and even British companies can now do business with Iran while bypassing dollar completely or even without any direct transactions with Tehran. Before INSTEX was introduced, one had to remain mindful of the fact that the US State department was capable of tracing international transactions and blocking them, which meant that Europe had the challenge of dodging a curved ball every time it wanted to sell something to Tehran. But it seems that the EU has had enough of both the US-imposed dollar system along with Washington’s attempts to champion European foreign policy agenda.
It’s curious that INSTEX was designed in such a way that Berlin, Paris and London would share a collective responsibility for undermining Washington’s policies. And there was no easy way to go about it, as there were only two possible scenarios: the EU setting a precedent of collective disobedience to Washington or the Trump administration making every effort of bringing to heel the defiant nations by picking them apart and humiliating them individually.
Yet another important aspect of INSTEX is that through it the EU demonstrates its reckless resilience that would be kept hidden for a long while, together with its readiness to pursue an independent policy. However, the US hasn’t learned a thing, as it carries on sending its threats to the defiant capitals of Berlin, Paris and London “through the appropriate diplomatic channels.” Among those voicing those threats was the German ambassador to Berlin,
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