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"We earthworms and countless bacteria play our roles
to nurture and maintain good soil on the earth."

Nature and Us -
Who could own this blue planet Earth?

Masako Ogawa
St. Louis, Missouri

Masako OgawaThis play was read aloud in St. Louis, Missouri to the general assembly of the First Grassroots Gathering on Biodevastation: Genetic Engineering, on July 17, 1998. The playwright, Mrs. Ogawa, lives in Joetsu City of Niigata Prefecture. She organizes a group called "Friends of Oriza" consisting of farm women. The following English script was distributed to accompany the play's performance which was in Japanese.


This script was born from exchange activities between a rice farm woman's group and consumers last year. We exchanged opinions about farming, the environment and food, while working together in the field growing tomatoes, bell-peppers, egg plants and radish. As the vegetables grew and the season changed from spring to summer, stronger friendship, mutual understanding and trust grew among us.

Now we all believe that it is our task to leave the future generation the same gift of the nature we are enjoying now. To do so, family farming in sustainable ways is essential because it is only family farmers who have cared, nurtured and lived together with the rural environment. The Earth belongs to all living things, not just those who want to control it for the profit of a few.

This is our message for the sustainable earth to be spoken out by many who are on the same road with us.

Moon: I am the moon, an external planet of the Earth, the blue planet in the infinite universe. This evening, people are enjoying the full moon festival on the earth. Clear air and water, healthy plants and insects, they are all part of me, as I would not be appreciated as much as now without them. But, I am now worried about the Earth, my best colleague in the universe. It seems that this blue planet is heading to be a lifeless "red star". Listen carefully, there are many animals who share my concerns.

Red Frog: I am a red frog living in the field. It was a tough day. I was almost caught in the rotating blades of the tractor that, in fact, destroys everything in the ground

Green Frog: I am a green frog. What a destructive power that tractor has! It does all work on the field so many times faster than one farmer can.

Earthworm 1: I am an earthworm. I thought it was the end of me when I was caught and thrown by that huge blade. I can't remember how many years have passed since we started to suffer this disaster in spring and fall.

Earthworm 2: Each time when I am thrown by the machine, I see changes on the earth. Now we see more machines than farmers on the field.

Moon: You seem to understand humans very well.

Red Frog: No, not at all. For us, all living things on the earth are friends. But, people do not think so. They see the earth is only for them.

Green Frog: No person notices me eating a leaf of a cabbage here. They only want frogs in fairy tales. Look people, I am here.

Moon: You frogs are very sharp!

Earthworm 1: People think we are filthy. They do not understand they can be healthy because we live in the ground to create healthy soil.

Earthworm 2: No healthy plants grow from the soil without us. Those people who love vegetables from dead soil where we can't live are the "filthy" ones.

Moon: You have a point. The healthy soil produces healthy vegetables.

Kaiware Radish: Yes, I am a kaiware radish, the one who was accused as a carrier of E-coli. Not only me, but the factory farms where I grew are suffering.

Moon: Tell us more of your story. What do you mean "factory farm"?

Kaiware: I am young sprouts of Daikon-horse radish. I am grown in the greenhouse without real soil, but only nutrient water. Light and temperature etc. are all controlled by the computer just like a factory. I do not need soil with earthworm, but we are still food for human beings.

Moon: I know you are very popular due to your prettiness and no fatness.

Kaiware: Lettuce and Mituba (kind of stone parsley) are my seniors who are also grown in the greenhouses. Unless people rethink about what is "healthy life" for all, we would be confined in the factory farms. They say it is a fashion to eat vegetables from the greenhouses.

Moon: You must miss the sun and soil. I understand your feeling.

Earthworm 1: I have an opinion. It is not only farmers who make good soil. We earthworms and countless bacteria play our roles to nurture and maintain good soil on the earth.

Earthworm 2: Exactly, Stupid people are even trying to destroy the healthy balances we created in the soil. First, we need comfortable soil to live in. Then, the soil in return produces healthy plants/food with good nutrition balance. This is what we all need to live.

Moon: Frogs, do you have opinions?

Red Frog: We are expert to tell good vegetables from sick ones. Vegetables from the soil you earthworms made are the healthy ones that can stand against pests, unlike the sick ones covered with the pesticides.

Green Frog: In the field of healthy vegetables, we can avoid pesticide poison. Some of our friends living in the fields that once were used for chemical factory or military bases, are suffering from physical disorders. As we have a short life we can see chemical effects in a short time. Who knows what will happen to human beings in the future?

Moon: I am afraid that your worries may come in the reality soon in the future.

E-COLI (0-157): Hi everyone. I was treated just like a hero last summer. I never expected human to be so fragile. Though they think they are the greatest on the earth, they do not know how to treat me. It is not my intention to hurt people or farmers.

Moon: What do you think about that scandal of e-coli?

E-COLI (0-157): First, I felt the people's weakness. Animals to begin with have a natural power to combat foreign bacteria like me. But, human, as a result of taking to much artificial things, seems to have their immune system unbalanced. Second, I am a result of factory food production and affluence of artificial food. I think, human beings will be extinct if they do not think seriously about what "life" really means to them.

Moon: I agree. Our blue planet Earth may be dead to become a "red" planet by the human behavior, though it is all of us.

Earthworm 1: It seems that humans, for some reason, have already forgotten to be humble to the nature that sustains all of our lives.

Earthworm 2: They are crazy! They just love parties so harmful to us. Even traditional festivals are being modified for their convenience.

Red Frog: That's right. They used to celebrate village festivals with us. In spring, they pray for good harvest and safety in the field in front of us. They had rituals to express their apologies for killing small animals like us in the course of farming.

Green Frog: In fall, they used to celebrate harvest and appreciate the nature and wild animals for supporting their farming. I think, originally, festivals were the place to appreciate and celebrate lives for all.

Moon: It was great to hear your talks. I hope your messages are heard by the people on this planet, and more people will seriously consider your concerns and act on behalf of you.

Japanese farmers meet with U.S. farmers in Missouri. Photo by Rhonda Perry.Woman A: What do you see through a piece of paper? Yes, I can see rainforest, wild animals deprived of their shelters, and forest people who are suffering from lack of livelihood and flood caused by a small rainfall.

Woman B: Our daily lives are linked with so many places in the world. Looking at the supermarket shelves, we feel like going around the world.

Woman C: On the surface, we seem very rich, in this rich era, we must seriously think of farming and agriculture. Future of farming, fishing and forestry is a question of all living things on the Earth. Regardless who you are, consumers or farmers, we must work for sustainable food system.

Woman A: In our rice farm women's group, we always confirm how we love the air, water and earth in out towns and villages. Because we are part of it, all the nutrition we need to survive can be provided from our field as long as we take care of it.

Woman B: For our healthy dining table, we need to select safe, nutritious, tasty and good-looking food to survive. But, some people mixed up the priorities to select food. Are you first picking up "pretty" food, or "healthy" food?

Woman C: Through the exchange programs with consumers, we re-realized greatness of the earth. We learned how humble nature is and felt "big love" from the earth. The earth is providing us as much as it can. But, we must know the earth is not infinite unless we now return our love and care.

Woman A: Without rice paddies well-taken care of by farmers, we do not see any frogs, firebugs or dragonflies. We can appreciate seasons in the rural community because there is someone taking care of the paddies.

Woman B: Mountains and forests are crying. It has come to the point where we can just leave forest people and mountain lovers the task of protecting forests and mountains. We need to work with them.

Woman C: Seas and rivers are living with mountains. Ground water from healthy mountains neuters the rivers and oceans.

Woman A: Sand beaches are also suffering. Being contaminated by many hazardous materials, sand cannot comfort you any more.

Woman B: Up above the air, the ozone layer is also sending us a warning signal. Let us not forget that we are part of the nature on the Earth that is now suffering from eroding soil, contaminated sea and lifeless farm land.

Woman C: We can see the blue planet earth through a piece of paper. We can see this blue planet smiling when covered with warm and rich soil. We must find our way to survive with diverse lives on the planet.

Woman A: Speak out!

Woman B: And multiply your friends!

Woman C: Because we are the ones to protect the "richness of the Blue Planet Earth".

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  • Published in In Motion Magazine August 15, 1998.