16 17 What has always guided me is my love and respect for the Earth and for humanity. My gratitude for the life that the living Earth gives us is what guides me to defend nature and people’s rights. The human right to be alive flows from the Earth’s intrinsic rights, therefore, for me, defending the Earth is our duty as well as our right. The best way people can become engaged is in participating in the regeneration of the living Earth by growing a garden, or by growing food ecologically, without chemicals. When we care for the soil we become part of the Earth, we become aware that we are part of nature. We are made of the same five elements that also constitute the Earth: space, air, water, fire, earth. Humus, as in soil, is the root of the word human. We are soil. We are made of soil. And we can and have the duty to regenerate soil. We have to change course. We have to abandon the path of extractivism, of taking without giving, of putting profits above people. This is the path of consumerism, which is destroying the conditions of human life on Earth. It is a dead end; it ends in extinction. The path that leads to the possibility of a human future is shown by following the path that indigenous people have walked over millennia without destroying the Earth. It is walking in nature’s ways that have sustained life on Earth over thousands of years. At Navdanya we are deeply aware that the soil is living, and that caring for the living soil is the most important aspect of growing food. Food is the gift of living seed and living soil. Seed and plants make living soil, and living soil grows living seed. The land on which the Navdanya farm is located was a desertified piece of land, impoverished by a eucalyptus plantation. To regenerate the soil, we feed the soil microorganisms by adding organic matter. We grew biodiversity, and it invited a biodiversity of insects and pollinators, of earthworms and soil organisms, of medicinal plants and uncultivated, wild edibles. When we do not spray pesticides and herbicides like glyphosate, which kill insects and plants, biodiversity grows biodiversity. Biodiversity grows abundance, biodiversity grows life. Our research shows that one third of the food is produced by pollinators. The nutrition in our food comes from soil microorganisms. Seed care is taking care of open pollinated, renewable seed, growing seed diversity in a living seed bank so it can coevolve with changing climate. Navdanya’s seed bank is living, it’s a commons, where seeds coevolve with human care. The Navdanya seed bank on the Navdanya farm is one of the 150 community seed banks we have helped to set up since 1991. I started community seed banks to save the diversity of living seed, and to keep seeds in farmers’ hands. It was in 1987, at a meeting on new biotechnologies, that the chemical corporations first mentioned how they would have genetically engineered seeds to own them through patents. They said all seeds would have been corporate GMO patented seeds by 2000, and the trade related intellectual property rights agreement of GATT/WTO³ would have been used to make seed saving and exchange illegal. For me saving and sharing seeds is an ethical and ecological duty. So I made a commitment to save seeds with communities in community seed banks, and also to challenge the false claim that seeds are machines invented by Monsanto. A community seed bank is the reclaiming of the commons of life in a time of imperialism over life, beginning with monopoly over seeds. In terms of water, throughout history, water sources have been regarded as sacred. They are places worthy of reverence and awe because water is a gift of nature, and it gives the gift of life. It is essential for our survival. Not only does it constitute a significant portion of our own bodies, but through water soil is hydrated so plants can grow, giving rise to life. In turn, the organic matter from plants and other living beings return to the soil, making it more resilient to erosion and increasing water holding capacity. Water is a commons. It is the ecological basis for all life. Its sustainability and equitable allocation depend on cooperation among community members. However, there is a growing momentum towards the privatization of water resources. We see increasing intervention by the state in terms of water policy and the subversion of community control over water resources. Throughout history and across the world, water rights have been shaped both by the limits of ecosystems and by the needs of people. Water has traditionally been treated as a natural right. Water rights as natural rights do not originate with the state; they evolve out of the given ecological context of human existence. From gratitude to Navdanya Vandana Shiva ³ General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, later become World Trade Organization (Ed.’s Note).