The Gift of the Grain: Beyond Biopolitics?
Is seed a commodity or a gift? Navdanya, an environmental non-profit in India, managed by the renowned ecofeminist Vandana Shiva, is often confronted with this question. In its attempt to respond to such a commonsense question, the agency has effectively fueled a social movement of sorts in India and South Asia. This is not an idle question to be buried for the sake of solving more burning questions such as food security in the developing world. Looking at the philosophy of seed sovereignty through the work of Navdanya, the paper argues that it is in fact a question that lies at the heart of food security because addressing the philosophy and culture of seed could spell the difference between monocultures and biodiversity in food making and consumption. Further, the paper argues that it is necessary to move beyond Western models of sovereignty and biopolitics, asking instead if seed is a gift first and foremost, which necessitates active participation of the community at all levels.
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