Support for new genetic engineering technologies is quietly growing, even amongst groups claiming to be ‘for’ sustainability, agroecology and even organic. This is happening largely behind closed doors and without the informed input of stakeholders. In addition, there is now a global push to deregulate these technologies. It is a real and invidious threat to the widespread adoption of agroecological farming practices; yet, it is never talked about in those terms. How do we counter this threat, and how do we bring the discussion out in the open and encourage farmers, foodies and civil society groups – many of whom ignore or have abandoned the issue – to take it seriously? This session will explore the state of genome editing technology today, the threat that it poses to agroecology and in particular indigenous cultures, the claim that new genetic engineering technologies are a ‘benign’ tool in the agro-sustainability toolbox and the practicalities and ethical issues around co-existence.
Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au: I am the River and the River is Me. So say Iwi Māori who live alongside the Whanganui River in Aotearoa/New Zealand, in recognition of their inalienable connection to the land and water they call home. Fundamental to Māori cosmology is the idea that the whenua – the land – is an extension of the self: a relation, an ancestor, a placenta, a home. In recognition of this connection, several features of the landscape in Aotearoa/New Zealand—including the Whanganui River—have gained recognition as legal persons.
But what does it mean for a river—or a forest—to have legal personality? The legal personhood of nature is a legal tool that is being increasingly used worldwide, and which can better recognise human responsibilities for nature by implementing and encouraging a different relationship between people and the natural world. How can creating space for indigenous conceptions of the land, and indigenous mana motuhake (self-sovereignty) help to build food sovereignty? Join a panel of jurists, activists and food producers from Aotearoa/New Zealand to explore these topics in greater depth, and to consider how we can decolonise our relationship with indigenous knowledge, and embrace “two-eyed seeing” – weaving together Indigenous knowledge and Western science to enhance our perspectives and broaden our understandings.