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On the latest episode of Russell Brand’s “Stay Free,” scholar, environmental activist and food sovereignty advocate Vandana Shiva, Ph.D., discussed the Dutch Farmer Citizen Movement and how it’s part of a global movement for democracy — despite how the media has smeared it.
To make sense of Dutch farmer politics, Shiva said, the first thing to understand is that “This is the farmer citizen movement. It’s not just the farmer’s movement. It’s the citizens of the Netherlands who don’t want their economy, their land or their country hijacked.”
The Dutch farmers first mobilized against a 2019 court order to cut nitrogen pollution in the Netherlands by 70%-80% to meet climate goals, largely by structurally adjusting the agricultural industry and substantially cutting back the livestock sector.
The move triggered a wave of protests over the next several years, which led to the formation of the BoerBurgerBeweging, a Farmer Citizen Movement.
Last month, almost one-fifth of the population — 1.4 million people who are largely farmers, pensioners, the vocationally trained and the precariously employed — turned out to vote for the citizen movement.
The win called into question the Dutch premier’s ability to implement the harsh farm reform measures.
“Mainstream media consistently smears the Farmer Citizen Movement as right-wing conspiracy theorists standing in the way of sustainable climate legislation,” Shiva told Brand.
“Nitrogen is a source of life,” Shiva said, although it is true that the way it is used in industrial farming causes serious environmental problems, like ocean dead zones.
Still, Shiva said it was contradictory for the government to make these demands on the farmers. They don’t treat nitrogen as a problem in other contexts, where it works to their benefit.
For example, people like Bill Gates, “with his fake solutions, has photographs all over his website and in his book, ‘How to Deal with the Climate Catastrophe’ that depict him saying, ‘I love nitrogen fertilizer,’” she said.
And, the new U.N. climate report, intended to lay out a road map for addressing global climate change “doesn’t even talk about nitrogen,” she said. It only focuses on carbon and methane reduction.
The real reason the Netherlands is targeting farmers is that there is a land grab going on, Shiva said. It is a conflict “between two world views.”
“For the corporations and the billionaires and the colonialists, land is real estate, property. For the people of the land, including the citizens and the farmers, land is the mother. Land is the identity,” she said.
Brand asked Shiva why she thinks Gates has become the face of the future of agriculture.
“Because that’s his new empire,” she said. “He’s imagining one agriculture across the world [Gates Ag One] growing monoculture crops as feed for lab food. So Mr. Gates wants to control food at all levels.”
This includes controlling land, controlling seeds, destroying real food to replace it with lab food and eliminating farmers from farming altogether, she said.
Today, every time farmers stand up to this, “they are labeled in all kinds of ways rather than as people defending the food sovereignty, seed sovereignty, land sovereignty and their livelihood sovereignty.”
Brand asked Shiva:
“Why are these professional liberal media voices so quick to criticize and condemn working people? Why are they so willing to shill for globalist interests as so plainly epitomized by Bill Gates and his agenda?”
Shiva said there are two reasons. First, because they have no relationship with the land or with farmers.
“When you don’t have a relationship you can be fed anything into your head and the PR spin and the narratives are replicated, especially if you’re rewarded with all kinds of platforms.”
Also, she said, “There are many people who have fallen into this nonsensical eco-modernist trap and they really see a world without farmers.”
Food is community, she said, with each other, with the soil and with our microbiomes.
“And whoever doesn’t want community, either human community or ecological community, they will assault in every way. This is just the contemporary version of witch hunts.”