Vandana Shiva: Our societies do not need to be so wasteful

From the Royal Society of Arts lecture by the director of India's Research Foundation for Science Technology and Ecology
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We are creating a society of waste and inefficiency. Just look at agriculture. Every step in increasing productivity has been a step in creating inefficiency and waste. We use 10 times more energy in industrial agriculture than we produce from it.

We are creating a society of waste and inefficiency. Just look at agriculture. Every step in increasing productivity has been a step in creating inefficiency and waste. We use 10 times more energy in industrial agriculture than we produce from it.

I have spent four years supporting coastal communities in India dealing with that waste. The entire coastal area is a huge belt of destroyed mangroves, salinated zones, wiped out coconut trees and wiped out paddy cultivation.

In fisheries we have to now move from hunting and gathering in the sea to settled production in fish farms. But only 10 per cent or 13 per cent of that fish is turned into fish protein. The rest is waste. That waste is then thrown right back into the sea, becomes pollutants, kills the fish where they are breeding and kills future life.

We don't have to go this way. The alternatives are not just theoretical - they're being worked out daily by millions of people. Organic agriculture uses five units of input to produce 100 units of food, compared to industrial agriculture, which has to waste 300 units to produce the same 100 units of output. We need to move away from the thinking that less biodiversity will mean more production, that less people will create more food, it's not true.

Waste means stealing. Waste is not just leaving pollution, but waste is taking someone else's share. Other species share, some other societies share. The planet has enough for everyone's need, but not for some people's greed.

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