Letter: Challenge the monoculture of the mind

Angie Carter, Phd Candidate In Sociology & Sustainable Agriculture

On March 11th, to an audience of 700 at Iowa State University, Dr. Vandana Shiva called our food system as it currently functions “a robbery of the soil and a robbery of nutrition.”

Contrary to the rhetoric of many, Iowa does not feed the world. As Shiva aptly pointed out, diverting grain to fuel production and factory farms is not a food system. We have failed to feed even our own community. Despite having some of the best soil on the planet, 15 percent of Story County is food insecure, and one in five kids in Iowa go hungry.

One does not have to walk far on the ISU campus to see signs of the path of our current food system. From Grant Wood’s iconic mural depicting the plowing of the prairie in the ISU library to the newly renovated Monsanto Student Services wing in Curtiss Hall, we are cultivating what Shiva describes as a monoculture of the mind.

This monoculture of the mind presents dangers to our science, our democracy and our futures. Its consequences are both local and global: soil erosion, nitrate pollution, challenges to academic freedom and biopiracy.

As Shiva writes, we are at a convergence of crises that presents opportunities for transition from the path of oil dependence to a path of food sovereignty and economic justice. She challenges us to continue to demand a food system that feeds people rather than corporate profits, builds community rather than dependence, and is fueled by soil, not oil.

I encourage all interested in discussing this in a specific context to join us at 8 p.m. March 25 in the Pioneer Room as we explore the ethics, implications and alternatives around Iowa State’s current human subjects testing of a transgenic banana.

As the next generation of scientists, political leaders, educators, and scholars at Iowa State, a land grant university, we have an important responsibility — and, I would argue, a moral imperative — to take a critical look at our privilege and to shift our food system’s path from agricolonialism to agridemocracy. We must challenge this monoculture with our science, our creativity and our action.