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Statement from Vandana Shiva regarding Avaaz Petition

Dear Friends, Dear Seed Savers and Defenders of Seed Freedom,

It has just come to my notice that Avaaz has launched a campaign for fundraising for an “ebay of seeds” and my name has been used in their petition without my permission or consultation. This is unethical. I do not endorse it. I also do not support the concept even if my name had not been used.

We have all with love and solidarity built a strong movement for saving seeds and farmers’ rights on the ground and in our communities. Let us continue our work with full integrity and mutual trust.


Vandana Shiva

Photo: Kartikey Shiva

Photo: Kartikey Shiva

More information: http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2478808/avaazs_global_ebay_of_seeds_how_did_they_get_it_so_wrong.html

This post is also available in: Italian, French, German, Greek, Portuguese (Portugal)


  1. Pingback: Alert: Fraudulent AVAAZ Campaign | Bifurcated Carrots

  2. Wishing we could all agree and short-circuit the food$$$ game by LOCAL PRACTICE everywhere: Feed ALL children worldwide for
    ONE MILLION $$$ of each One Billion spent on WAR.
    Get with the program folks !

    Feed ALL children Educate ALL people
    to feed themselves and others
    Our RIGHT is to establish ideal human habitat; our DUTY for 7 generations. ALL kept as PUBLIC BENEFIT controlled only by real HUMANS, on GAIA our living planet.

    Gather in fields: the congregation.
    Plant seeds: the ceremony.
    PRAY during the growing/watering.
    Share WORLDWIDE: the communion.

    Peace n Planting our true way of life.
    99% feel the same …… Feed ALL children Educate ALL people
    Please BEE REAL — get a hive going with somebody anywhere!
    BEE ProACTIVE aka benefit the 7 generations in all you do!

    PS MAKING IT HAPPEN LOCALLY in your neighborhood….USA style
    Thought this local action peace plan might be at the heart of our prayers…. we could rent church kitchens and make wonderful BREAKFAST in YOUR POCKET cookies and donated organic milk for school children. Friday night we use the kitchen again to make WHOLE GRAIN PIZZA with ten vegetables and mushrooms. Salad bar too, all organic fresh!
    NO MOVIE NIGHTS — instead there are ten tables with crafts and skills mentors sitting there to help the YOUTH. A great fisherman, a basket maker, leather worker, food preservation teacher and other useful survival skills teachers /life guides.

    Please Seed Freedom ask a seed caretaker of Vandana Shiva how to make a donation not in $$$.
    You MAY share my contact info for that purpose please and thank you.*J

  3. It seems that CFS clear the mistake and Avaaz responsability.
    CFS wrote:
    For over two decades CFS has worked very closely with Dr. Shiva and Navdanya,
    Please Dr Shiva tell us if it s right or not. Does Navdanya works with CFS.
    regarding the funding of Avaaz campaign, http://www.avaaz.org/en/avaaz_expenses_and_financial_information/, you ll see that the use of funds are followed, even if myself i find that they coud be more clear about the specific use of the money. As for each campaign creatring a page with the drop down of all resources, money, partners, etx etx and results. Avaaz isn t just managing a website but spend money in campaign, advertising ans lobbying. Yet they would be better providing specifics info about that.
    TOk, that was as a citizen, and petitioner on Avaaz since 4 years.
    Now i d like to have a feed back on this:
    Producing and selling them on a big scale would still be a business, but open to anyone.


    Center for Food Safety (CFS) is in the process of establishing an innovative and much needed International Seed Savers Exchange. After a launch of a fundraising campaign for this project by Avaaz, we’ve received requests for clarification. So what is the International Seed Savers Exchange, and why is it needed?

    Over the last decades, governments aligned with large agribusiness corporate interests have put up numerous barriers to farmers, home gardeners and seed savers that prevent them from freely exchanging their seeds. Seed savers are now required to submit complex phytosanitary forms, taxonomic labeling and myriad other regulations. These requirements are not uniform among nations or even jurisdictions within nations and are constantly changing. As a result, seed savers who are currently exchanging seeds internationally are overwhelmed in their attempt to comport their exchanges with these regulations. Their seeds are routinely confiscated, returned and may be subject to legal sanctions.

    Such barriers to small seed savers benefit the Monsantos of the world. These companies own large percentages of commercial seeds, many of which they have patented, so it is in their interest to limit farmers’ and other food producers’ access to seeds. The facilitation of a non-profit, diverse seed exchange around the globe bypasses their monopolistic control and helps individuals navigate the complex regulations that mega-corporations have helped to create.

    As the barriers to small seed savers become ever more onerous, expanding non-profit open access to seeds is critical, particularly as farmers and farm communities face rapid climactic changes in growing conditions and novel plant pests and pathogens due to climate destabilization. The aim of the effort to create an International Seed Savers Exchange is to provide the very considerable legal and agronomic assistance that farmers, seed savers and breeders from around to the world need to exchange their seeds legally, and with minimal effort.

    The Avaaz fundraising webpage for this project contained language that may have led some in the seed movement to misunderstand the nature and scope of the project. The exchange would not be a commercial enterprise of any sort. It is not a store. It is not a bidding site. It is simply a means to facilitate bilateral seed exchanges between seed savers who wish to participate, and will only connect them to others to whom they wish to connect.

    To accomplish this is of course no easy task. Center for Food Safety’s world-recognized legal team spent two years conducting in-depth legal research on the laws and rules of countries and regions around the globe to ensure that users can navigate all the requirements and forms for the particular exchange they desire. This will require a full-time legal and agronomic staff along with a major web platform where the exchanges are facilitated. With the help of partner organizations, the site will include a number of other features, including seed identification technology, maps of similar agronomic areas around the world, best seed saving practices, taxonomic translation, language translation, model seed saving curriculum and more. CFS realizes that some of these features may be being provided elsewhere and will direct users to those organizations as well.

    The web platform will also empower individuals and groups to contribute to a shared knowledge base on seed saving, cultivation, breeding technologies, seed identification and best practices, and training methods. The seed saving website will be an interactive, “open source” system and will allow seed savers, farmers, and breeders to post educational manuals, questions, recommendations and videos. It will be particularly useful in distributing “rapid response” information on emerging issues or incidents of state or corporate interference that threaten seed sovereignty. It will include a comprehensive annotated list of other sites and the opportunities they provide for seed savers and for seed exchanges.

    To refine, improve and further develop the International Seed Savers Exchange initiative, CFS intends to convene stakeholder meetings beginning in the Fall of 2014 in several international locations to explore how this effort can unite with other efforts for seed liberation, and help break the corporate monopoly on our precious seed diversity. CFS also understands that seeds have deep spiritual and cultural meanings related to but also beyond their agricultural function, and through consultation, seeks to ensure that this is respected in the Exchange work.

    CFS and others working on this project clearly do not assume that it alone will achieve the seed liberation we collectively seek. Many groups around the world are working toward this goal, educating the public on the dire threat to the world’s seeds and food security, preserving germplasm diversity at the local level, organizing against monocultures and GMOs, leading seed freedom marches, and pursuing legislative and legal changes in seed law. CFS itself has been a key player in bringing three life patenting cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. While two of the cases attempting to halt seed patenting failed, a third case, which held that DNA is not patentable, was a major victory. CFS intends to continue its legal, legislative, and public education work on seeds.

    As we continue to implement this ambitious effort to provide this service to the global seed community, questions remain for CFS and the seed community to be addressed. How do we reach many who do not have Internet access so they will also benefit from the facilitation of seed exchanges? How can we establish and fund a legal defense team for well-intentioned users who may be harassed by governments or corporations? How can we best disseminate information about the Exchange so as to ensure that its potential is fully utilized? These and other questions will arise in the consulting and planning process. As our many decades of legal, policy and education work in coalition with movements around the world demonstrate, CFS is committed to resolving such questions with participation from seed networks.

    One question that can be addressed: Will corporations use this site for biopiracy? In our view, it is highly unlikely. Monsanto, Dupont, Dow, Syngenta and the other biopirates unfortunately have access to tens of thousands of seed varieties and seed germplasm from their massive buyouts of local seed companies and even from some seed banks around the world, a few that they have funded. They needn’t take the time to expand their current biopiracy by masquerading as an individual user on the Exchange to obtain a bilateral exchange of a few pounds (or kilos) of one or two seed varieties from a farmer.

    CFS welcomes any further questions or requests for clarifications of this promising project.


    Andrew Kimbrell
    Executive Director, Center for Food Safety

    July 16, 2014

  5. Special news from Kokopelli: AVAAZ, pull the veil away !

    BEWARE: Kokopelli denounces AVAAZ’s fraudulent campaign concerning a so-called global “seed exchange”

    Dear friends of Kokopelli,

    A few days ago, the american organisation AVAAZ has launched a new fundraising campaign called “the best way to stop Monsanto”, widely circulated on Internet and by e-mail, and supposedly intended to create “the first ever, non-profit “eBay” of seed”.

    The association KOKOPELLI is absolutely NOT the initiator of that campaign and knows no French or European organisation participating in it.

    Moreover, the e-mail promoting this campaign pretends that “a coalition of more than 20 groups and leaders in the field of sustainable agriculture like the Center for Food Safety and activist Vandana Shiva are standing by ready to launch the project.” We don’t know these groups, which are not designated, but we have contacted Vandana Shiva on this topic and here is what she answered: “I am not involved in this initiative, have never been contacted or consulted about it”!!! She has also expressed her indignation at the hijacking of her name and reputation on her SeedFreedom blog.

    On this blog, the US organisation Center for Food Safety takes responsibility for these grotesque tactics and talks about “error” and “misunderstanding”, but we don’t believe a word of it all. What kind of error can it be when it is about launching a worldwide campaign, translated into 17 languages, in order to collect several hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions – because we have noted that the global amounts collected are carefully blanked out, but already more than 55.000 persons have donated -?

    We also note that the text presenting the campaign is very poorly drafted, that its terms are very evasive, that no Internet website exists for the project mentioned, that the partner “farmers” and “organisations” are not designated, that the potential suppliers and beneficiaries of seeds are not identified, that the proposed actions have no consideration for the regulatory constraints which undermine our action since 60 years, etc.

    All of that is not serious, and it seems therefore that this campaign is a complete sham of the organisation AVAAZ – of which we have already denounced the dubious character in the past (only in FR) – intended only to raise money at the expenses of generous but far too credulous web users.

    We therefore ask for the immediate withdrawal of this campaign – or the exact and complete details of the project mentioned in it, if it exists – and full transparency on the use of collected sums, or complete refund to the deceived donors!

    In any case, we recommend the utmost prudence concerning this campaign and, in general, concerning AVAAZ, and invite all of you to circulate this message to the largest possible number of recipients.

    Kokopelli’s team – 16 July 2014

  6. Why should funding be needed for any campaign to save seeds? I have managed three public-sector national and international seed stores (otherwise known as genebanks). Seed of the many hundreds of thousands of varieties of hundreds of crops was and is readily available for free. That is what genebanks are for. This is a dubious campaign.

      • David: Nearly all countries have national genebanks for two reasons: to supply variation for national plant breeders; and to conserve farmer varieties that may be lost in the field. Also I expect multinational seed companies to have extensive seed collection. However, the national collections – for example the vast USDA stores – make samples available (not so the seed companies). There are on-line catalogues (GRIN for the USDA). If you want samples in reasonable numbers – 10s rather than thousands – then ask. There are also heritage seed collections – for example, the Seed Savers Exchange in the USA – that sell seed. Storage is easy. Dry the seed carefully – sun will do – and store in a sealed foil packet (or even a capped beer bottle) in a domestic freezer. Most drier seeds – cereals and the like – could store for 100 years.Even seed from `wet’ fruits such as tomato and potato can be cleaned, dried, and stored for decades. Many tropical tree crops do not produce seed that can be dried and therefore cannot be stored. Good luck.

  7. Pingback: Le démenti de Vandana Shiva sur le Communiqué – Avaaz : Combattre Monsanto ou faciliter la biopiraterie ? | Comité d'Action AntiMondialisation Libérale de Gironde

  8. hmm, looks like this wasn’t Avaaz’s mistake. Center for Food Safety says they proposed the fundraiser and their staff had a miscommunication with Vandana — “CFS regrets and apologizes for the misunderstanding and takes full responsibility for the error of Dr. Shiva’s name appearing on the fundraising initiative. We want to be clear that Avaaz acted in good faith throughout” – here’s the link – http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/3295/notification-regarding-avaaz-fundraising-appeal

  9. Center for Food Safety (CFS) recently submitted a proposal to Avaaz for a fundraising campaign to create a state of the art non-profit seed exchange and to support a strong seed saving movement that promotes farmers’ rights and protects local seed diversity. A miscommunication of CFS’s international staff with Dr. Vandana Shiva led to the mistaken inclusion of Dr. Shiva in the Avaaz fundraising initiative. CFS regrets and apologizes for the misunderstanding and takes full responsibility for the error of Dr. Shiva’s name appearing on the fundraising initiative. We want to be clear that Avaaz acted in good faith throughout and we deeply appreciate the Avaaz community’s support and commitment to this critical issue.

    For over two decades CFS has worked very closely with Dr. Shiva and Navdanya, the organization she founded, and both organizations share the common goal of defending and protecting local seeds, seed diversity, and the right of farmers to save and exchange seeds. We look forward to future work with Navdanya and other movements in mutually agreed upon activities that will build a better seed future.

    Founded in 1997, Center for Food Safety (CFS) successful lawsuits, policy initiatives, scientific investigations, and grassroots campaigns focus on all aspects of protecting, defending, and creating sustainable food and farming practices.

    In addition to halting the introduction of numerous genetically engineered (GE) crops and foods and animals through successful legal challenges, CFS has also championed precedent-setting legal cases in agricultural and environmental arenas including challenging the intellectual property policies of Monsanto all the way to the Supreme Court, and winning the historic Supreme Court case directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to monitor greenhouse gases.

  10. Is Avaaz combatting Monsanto or facilitating biopiracy?
    Under the pretext of fighting Monsanto, Avaaz has sent millions of emails to solicit public donations to launch a global e-commerce in seeds. The French Farmers Seed Network (Réseau Semences Paysannes) asks: Do farmers need a “global online-store” for seeds? Is this commerce with seeds over the internet going to escape the laws of world trade dictated by Monsanto and other multinationals? Isn’t what Avaaz proposes running the risk of organizing biopiracy on a global scale serving these multinationals?
    According to Avaaz, this project is designed by “farmers who resist by preserving seeds in seed banks and barns around the world.” The Farmers Seed Network bringing together in France most organizations of “farmers” working on Farmer seeds never asked Avaaz for anything and have never heard about an organization of small farmers in the world that could conceive such a project.
    Small farmers rather work in their fields than on the internet. They produce and sell food. Only seed companies live from the seed trade. Small farmers practicing agro-ecology need first of all to be able to select and multiply their seeds locally, in order to suit their local growing conditions and adapt to climate changes as they occur in their fields. They don’t need seeds selected and multiplied on the other side of the planet that would require large amounts of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to adapt to local growing conditions, to which they were not acclimated.
    A few seed samples from elsewhere are sometimes enough to help them renew the diversity of their local seeds. These exchanges of small quantities of seeds are needed when farmers have lost their local seeds and also when they cope with accelerating climate change. But when they receive these seeds, farmers must first select those suitable for their own growing conditions before they can grow them on a large scale. It also happens that the local seed stocks are destroyed by a climatic catastrophe or war. Farmers must then obtain seeds from their nearest neighbors, possibly from neighboring countries, but not on a global seed market. Farmers have organized themselves to facilitate the exchanges they need despite the laws dictated by multinationals that try to prohibit them. They meet in person and talk to eachother in order to transmit the knowledge associated with each seed. If some of them are creating small artisan businesses which could seel seeds through the internet, it is always on a smal-scale level. But they don’t need all their Farmer seeds and all their knowledges to be puted up for sale on a huge internet store that would necessarily escape their control. This would only facilitate the work of multinationals seeking new seeds with intertsing traits that could be patented. They want access to farmers’ knowledge to determine which of these seeds have valuable traits worth patenting. These patents then forbid farmers to continue using the seeds, that they are invited to give for free on this “ebay store”. Providing access and information over the internet means giving Farmer seeds away to the multinationals. Farmers do not want to facilitate the theft of their seeds through patents by multinationals.
    Finally, Avaaz does not say by whom and how the money collected on behalf of farmers, who are not associated with this campaign, will be managed.
    Farmers are happy when NGOs help them to organize. But they don’t need NGOs trying to mobilize civil society on their behalf for purposes that are not theirs. To select and locally produce seeds, farmers need their rights to save, use, exchange and sell their seeds recognized and applied in every country. They need the mobilization of civil society to prevent in all countries of the world the laws and patents on life impeding those rights.
    The Administrative council of the Réseau Semences Paysannes.
    Contact : Patrick De Kochko, patrick@semencespaysannes.org, 00 33 6 17 06 62 60 ou 00 33 5 53 84 44 05

  11. So sorry your name was hijacked. This is very disrespectful of AVAAZ and does not reflect well on their reputation. Thank you for your great work.

  12. Dear Vandana, your reply is clear …. but too respectful. The high-jacking of your name and reputation needs a stronger reaction! It seems to be typical for the questionable activities of AVAAZ: high-jacking names of persons and organizations (where is a reaction of CFS?), high-jacking issues and themes which others work on very efficiently, stealing “successes” which others have effected, etc.! A very clear warning against AVAAZ should go out to the civil soviety community: AVAAZ is a doubtful organisation!

    • Do you really think they are a doubtful organization? My self I sign many of their petitions of worthy causes. Their campaigns are mostly about awareness, and signatures not money. You may be throwing the baby out with the bath water on this one Helga.

      Humbly, one man’s opinion.

      • What about the money they have already collected “mistakenly” using Vandana’s name in this campaign. What will happen to this and why there is no statement from Avaaz on this? How much money does Avaaz collect in all such campaigns on the back of work done by movements on the ground? Last year Avaaz revenue was 11 million dollars. How much of this actually went as grants to the organizations on the ground and how much were salaries for themselves. There is no transparency and its a big money game.

        • I mean not to argue with you. I offer my comments to discuss and clarify.

          The campaign concerning Vandana Shiva is but one campaign. Clearly her name was used without her consent, and I do not know if intent on Avaaz part has been proven. If it was that is shameful.

          My point was and continues to be they appear to do good work. I sign petitions from them and am rarely asked for money. You make a lot of accusations, and should be careful doing so without supplying proof. You may be tarnishing unjustly the image of an organization that does not deserve so.

          I agree with you though the charity ‘business’ is full of frauds but that does not mean they all are. For just such reason I normally do not give to charity and prefer to help people directly in my home town.

          It is good to be critical but care must be taken. Your lack of apathy is admirable and your concern welcome.

          I should say I have no affiliation with Avaaz I am just a concerned citizen such as yourself.

          Kindest regards,


          • Dear David, I didn’t mean to argue either. But a quick look at their finances would be enough to raise some doubts on the so called effectiveness of their good work. These are not accusations, they are from Avaaz’s own website. The figures are for all to see http://www.avaaz.org/en/avaaz_expenses_and_financial_information/ You and I may only sign the petitions, but there are millions who donate too. 11 million dollars for running a petition website is a little much i would say.

  13. Pingback: Déclaration de Vandana Shiva concernant la pétition Avaaz | Les jardins du Lungta

  14. Oh Avaaz.I hope such was just an error on your part. A very respectful non-endorsement reply Vandana Shiva. Not that we would expect any less from your graciousness.