In a world where the global economy is increasingly dominated by a handful of multinational corporations, the call for decolonization has never been more urgent. Vandana Shiva, a renowned environmentalist, activist, and author, offers a critical perspective on the global economy and how it can be decolonized. In her talk titled “Decolonising the Global Economy,” delivered at Full Circle, Brussels, Shiva explores the history of economic colonisation and how we can reclaim our sovereignty.
The History of Economic Colonisation
Shiva begins by tracing the roots of economic colonisation back to the British East India Company, which established the first corporation and introduced the concept of international trade. However, this was not a fair trade system. It was a system that exploited the resources of colonised countries, leading to the extraction of wealth and the imposition of foreign cultures.
The East India Company was granted the right to have private armies, invade and wage wars, and shut down local trade. This was the beginning of a colonised economy, where costs were socialised, and gains were privatised.
The Colonisation of Agriculture
The colonisation of agriculture is a significant aspect of the global economy’s colonisation. Shiva discusses how the Green Revolution, which introduced the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides in farming, led to the destruction of traditional farming practices and the erosion of biodiversity.
She also highlights the issue of patenting seeds, a practice that Monsanto, a multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, has been instrumental in promoting. This practice has made it illegal for farmers to save seeds, leading to a loss of biodiversity and farmers’ rights.
Decolonising the Global Economy
According to Shiva, decolonising the global economy involves reclaiming food sovereignty and seed freedom. She emphasises the importance of recognising farmers as the first breeders and the need to protect the biodiversity of seeds.
She also discusses the need to shift from yield measurements to health and nutrition measurements. Shiva argues that we should use less land and work with more biodiversity to grow more nutrition.
The colonisation of food is another critical issue. Shiva discusses the sanitary and phytosanitary agreement, which was written by multinational corporations like Pepsi and Nestle to make local food illegal. She argues that food should be seen as a source of health, not a commodity.
Decolonising the global economy is about reclaiming our freedom. It is about recognising and respecting the diversity of our ecosystems and the rights of farmers. It is about shifting from a system that exploits and degrades to one that nourishes and sustains. As Vandana Shiva eloquently puts it, “Our freedom to eat healthy food, to protect the Earth and regenerate the Earth through healthy food, is not negotiable.”