In this interview, social justice and anti-GMO advocate Vandana Shiva, Ph.D., discusses her book, “Oneness Vs. the 1%: Shattering Illusions, Seeding Freedom,” which she co-wrote with her son, in which she argues that the ultra-wealthy elite are responsible for a majority of the environmental, financial and health crises currently facing us.
In reality, it’s really about the 0.001% — the small number of billionaires and centibillionaires who have become ultra-rich over the past 30 years or so. Most of them didn’t exist before globalization. The 1% is just a useful metaphor for the ruling elite that the publisher thought would be easier to communicate.
One of the key players is, no surprise, Bill Gates, whose wealth and “philanthropic” efforts have garnered him unprecedented influence over agriculture and global health policies that threaten food security and human health.
“I was in Paris for the climate summit, and I’ve been doing this UN Summit since the Earth summit in ’92. I’ve been doing the Biodiversity Convention, drafting of clauses, including Article 19.1, which basically required biosafety and assessment of GMOs. So, I was very surprised that, for the first time, the billionaires were on the stage with the heads of state,” she says.
The Ongoing Transfer of Wealth
One of the “solutions” to climate change offered by this billionaire club was geoengineering, which in reality is no solution at all. As noted by Shiva, if the climate is already changing for the worse, engineering temperatures, deflecting sunlight, dumping iron fillings on the ocean and chemicals in the sky, and creating artificial volcanoes, you’re simply creating additional problems without solving the original one.
At the end of the August 2020 update of the book, she also discusses COVID-19, and how this engineered pandemic has catalyzed the transfer of wealth to the rich. While global lockdowns have decimated small businesses and left many to struggle financially, the rich have amassed fantastic profits.
“The 2008 crisis was very clearly about deregulation of the financial economy,” she says. “It was about collateral, it was about taking securities, bundling up risk, and then the system totally collapsed because it was really trading in fictions. But I’ve been working on the economy, because I started to work on the seed in 1987.
Companies wanted to own and patent life. That’s how my journey on GMO started. But they also wanted to change the trade laws. They wanted to own seed as their creation. They wanted an intellectual property treaty in the GATT. I first heard this in a 1987 [United Nations] meeting.
That’s when I decided: a) I would save seeds, b) I would keep track of the GATT and the World Trade Organization (WTO). The antiglobalization movement grew out of that, and the International Forum on Globalization. We shut down WTO in Seattle, which shows the power of the people. We will not allow this lie of seed being Monsanto’s invention.
I worked with our [Indian] parliament, I worked with our government to write laws. Article 3G [says] seeds are not inventions. This is what has prevented Monsanto from ripping off Indian farmers even more than they did. They’ve been taken to court now for the illegal collection of technology fees …
Basically, what we have today is this transfer of wealth. Monsanto’s behavior is also the big tech’s behavior. Do they produce anything? No. They only collect rents on digital platforms. They’re rent collectors …
I saw the seed issue with Monsanto. I said, ‘Here they are collecting rents from seed, which they didn’t make. Then we won’t let them own it.’ In effect, whether it’s Amazon or Gates, they’re basically rent collectors. What they’ve done with this pandemic is literally create a closed economy, which depends on them and their rent collection.”
The eight-minute video below provides a sobering summary of the massive wealth transfer that has occurred in 2020 thanks to pandemic lockdowns, during which small businesses were forced to close while giant multinational companies were allowed to stay open and thereby monopolize the market. The end result is the largest transfer of wealth in modern history.
The End of Democracy
Shiva goes on to review how India mobilized against Walmart’s encroachment, which threatened to destroy local businesses. The COVID-19 lockdowns, however, have prevented the same kind of mobilization against the tech and retail giants.
As local businesses around the world have had to close their doors for months on end, Amazon.com’s power has exploded. Amazon is even encroaching on grocery suppliers.
“I was just reading a paper, that the super wealthy in the U.S. have transferred $50 trillion to themselves [over the past 30 years; the globalization period] … While they rob you of your job, they’re still extracting [money from] you for that forced software program on digital payments, for software programs on … digital education.
Poor Indian children, who could afford a universal education, now cannot afford education because their parents have no smartphones. So, we are seeing an engineered imposition of an economy. A healthy economy grows as an evolution with choices, with justice, with equity …
True economies would say, ‘Here is what I bring. If my digital [currency is] better than your cash, choose it. Is my forced vaccination better than your immunity? Make your choice.’ The minute choice is removed from people’s life, democracies stop. When the choice is removed from our conditions of being, our conditions of living, then life is threatened …
What is globalization but deregulation of commerce? It is knocking down every law that was put in place by democratic societies for the protection of the environment, the protection of health, the right to education, the rights of workers. Now that’s what’s being targeted.”
In India, they recently eliminated all labor laws, and they’re trying to remove the Farmers’ Rights Act, as well as environmental laws. This is what allows for the transfer of wealth to happen, Shiva says.
The End Game
As explained by Shiva, all of these companies are essentially rent collectors. Facebook turns our minds into a raw material that is then capitalized upon. “Gates is particularly vicious because through the Gates Foundation, he pretends to be doing philanthropy,” she says.
But with every philanthropic endeavor, he carves out new colonies from which he can collect new rents and make new investments. “That’s why no matter how much he gives, he gets richer and richer,” Shiva says. “A genuine giver would get poorer.”
In her book, she explains how, without Gates, there would be no commercial gene editing, for example, which is the new GMO. He created a company called Editas Medicine Inc. to facilitate the patenting of these new climate-resilient plants, with which they aim to create new medicines. “He will do biofortification to solve the nutrition problem. He is particularly vicious,” she says. As for what the ultimate goal might be, Shiva says:
“The first thing is, of course, they want to use their money-making tools to make more money. So, it is a dictatorship of the technology balance. That’s why people should be paying a lot more attention to the violent imposition of digitalization.
A lot of my friends, who never studied the roots of these violence systems, who never understood that agrichemicals came from Hitler’s concentration camps and that the agrichemical industry is the poison cartel responsible for the genocide, they’re continuing that genocide.
Technologies as tools of domination and exploitation are not neutral. A lot of progressive think, ‘More digitalization, more democracy.’ How can a surveillance economy be an enlargement of your freedom? You have to have the systems in place, the regulations in place, the choices in place to be able to make these technologies a servant and not your master.”
The Global Merger
They also want to merge all of these various industries together — agriculture, technology and finance. Shiva recounts how, in 2016, India banned all cash and made digital transactions compulsory. In short order, “90% of poor people lost their savings, their incomes,” she says, as small, local economies evaporated. Meanwhile, the wealthy elites also control the world’s economy via their asset funds.
“Corporations don’t own themselves anymore. Even the corporations are owned by the billionaires, the same BlackRocks, the same Vanguards control every big company, Coca-Cola to McDonald’s to Boeing. Look at anything in the world, it’s the billionaire money and their asset management funds.
Last year, BlackRock increased its wealth from $1 trillion to $7 trillion, which means the billionaires increased their wealth. During the lockdown, they invaded even more deeply into the Amazon and became richer.
So, these investment asset management funds are the billionaires’ wealth, and it is increasing. That is merging with IT and information technology and the tech barons, and it’s merging with biotechnology and the chemical industry.
That’s why they’re talking about digitalization of agriculture — farming without farmers and, worse, food without food. One of the big pushes of Gates and Silicon Valley is into fake food.”
As noted by Shiva, while Big Biotech claims GMOs will save your health and protect the planet, these pesticide-laden plants are in fact doing the complete opposite.
We Are the Throwaways
There’s also the issue of social justice. She cites Gandhi, who said that if you’re in doubt about what the right thing to do is, “bring the face of the most vulnerable person to your mind’s eye and do what is good for them.” If you think it will harm them more, don’t do it.
“They deliberately want to get rid of large parts of humanity,” Shiva says. “First through hunger, then through sickness. They want a digital economy, they want a sick economy. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be spending all your time on Big Pharma; you’d spend your time making sure that the smaller farmer doesn’t get destroyed …
On a planetary scale, we are seeing these irresponsible, greedy, indifferent, callous men bring the world, and humanity, to a brink. That’s why we have to act and find creative ways …
All of these tech barons who have taken over the economy, hiding behind the virus, are all jumping into life sciences. Google has a new life sciences division. This will be the final defeat of Mother Nature, At a time [when] the world is waking up to the rules of nature and healthy bodies, healthy ecosystems, an eco-healthy planet, they’re still carrying on the Colonial franchise of defeating Mother Nature.”
The Great Economic Reset
None of these things is coming out of left field. They’ve been carefully planned for many decades. We now see clear evidence that a “great economic reset” is in the works, which will transition everything over to digital currencies.
As noted by Shiva, the industrial revolution shifted our mindset to one where we thought of nature as dead. The result was ecological destruction and the fragmentation of society. The coming economic reset is basically part of an effort to further manipulate and shift our mental framework toward something wholly unnatural. Shiva says:
“In India, they attacked and are still attacking organic and created something called the Zero-Budget Natural Farming … What they’re basically doing is giving big loans to the state, which then gives fat loans to the farmer. In the meantime, Gates is mining farm data.
He’s getting people placed in the homes of farmers to mine data. Then they’ll create algorithms to sell that data back. But all of this is now being reduced to carbon in the soil. You’ll get zero % for what you grow. You can get no needs of yours met through food and fodder, but we will allow you to trade in the global market on the carbon in your soil, and that’s what would keep you alive. This whole financialization of nature is one aspect.
The second aspect in the great reset is to redo the economy to make it look like those who are now disposable throwaway people deserved it. They created the language of competition.
[When I was writing] my epilogue, I had just received Microsoft’s patent, [which] basically reduces human beings to users. Our brain activity is tapped into in various ways. Everyone wants to have smart wear these days. I should call it spyware. That data goes through algorithms. Those algorithms will decide what [we are worthy of and] Bitcoins will be allocated to us.
But every child born is born worthy. Every member of society has equal human rights. So, they’re undoing everything we’ve put in place on humanity, on human rights, on democracy. This is where we need to be alert.
I think the whole issue of the pandemic and the lockdown was useful for them for two reasons. One, they could get everyone afraid. Second, they could get everyone distracted while they took over the economy, they took over our minds. They basically transferred all the remaining wealth to themselves.”
To learn more, please listen to the interview in its entirety, and be sure to pick up a copy of “Oneness Vs. the 1%: Shattering Illusions, Seeding Freedom.” You can also find more details about Shiva’s work on Navdanya.org.
“I personally feel that this assault is coming at a time when, in India and the world, there’s a new rising of consciousness of the planet and its living systems, of our health and our living systems, and the connection between our health and the health of the planet. At this point … it needs a lot of brutal violence to impose. So, to the extent they can keep the virus as their shield to hide behind, they will.”
I agree with Shiva when she says that rather than allowing COVID-19 fear-mongering take over our lives, we need to look at the infrastructures of life, humanity, democracy, economy and taxation, “and start thinking about who’s taking them away from us.”
“You have to protect that which you treasure,” she says. “Freedom and life are what are being taken right now … We have to resist fear and we have to resist hate. We are thinking beings; let us use the minds we’ve been given and let us rebuild community.
Again, I don’t think the 6-foot distancing is by accident. Why do they use the words ‘social distancing’ rather than ‘physical distancing’? Six feet is a physical measure. They … want us to forget that being a human being means being in community. They want us to be users of gadgets.
We must be community. We must remember that we are interrelated to the rest of life on Earth and to society. That’s why we have to be talking [about how to] rebuild regenerative economies … I think we lost a lot of time thinking the only issue was energy, how energy is produced. We lost two decades of how food is produced.
I really believe that if people start becoming aware that eating good food is the single most important [strategy for health], and growing food in the right way is the single most important part to regeneration of the planet, this will rebuild community …
I think we need to start doing homework to say, ‘Where’s the wealth going? How should the tax flow look? How is our money going to make the billionaires richer? How can they keep extracting more money out of us?
How is our public money the new subsidy to create the infrastructure for greed, rather than be the public resources to create the infrastructure of life, of care and of solidarity? … What in our current legal framework can stop this hemorrhaging of public money to move upwards to the billionaires?
These are foundational issues. Who are we as human beings? How will we live in the future? What is the future we will create long after the robber barons are gone, because they were there in the 1930s and we learned how to get rid of them. If there’s one project we should have, it’s strategies to get rid of the robber barons, whatever it takes …
I don’t think we have the luxury to be hopeless. Hope is something you must cultivate on a daily basis. Cultivating hope is cultivating resistance. Cultivating hope is cultivating the strategy.”