The GM Food Debate

The picture painted of Vandana Shiva in this recent article (“Shiva the Destroyer?”) is of someone intellectually bankrupt, promoting “crass forms of cultural chauvinism and intolerance”:

Someone who has risen to prominence among weak-minded western postmodernists co-opting local movements to further her ideology to the detriment of the people on the ground:

[quote]One of Shiva’s

I’m saying nothing.

The picture painted of Vandana Shiva in this recent article (“Shiva the Destroyer?”) is of someone intellectually bankrupt, promoting “crass forms of cultural chauvinism and intolerance”[/quote]

First, salmon, I must say the article you linked to is much more well written and researched than the one imyourbiggestfan linked to in a previous post.

[quote=“salmon”]and whose views on sustainable agriculture and the Green Revolution are preposterous:

In short, she sounds like a fraud.[/quote]

If you change “pre-Green Revolution” to “pre-colonial” in the quote above then you get a very different story. Much of the starvation, landlessness, and poverty in India has come about as a result of British colonisation.

[quote]More than 3.5 million people starved to death in the Bengal famine of 1943. Twenty million were directly affected. Food grains were appropriated forcefully from the peasants under a colonial system of rent collection. Export of food grains continued in spite of the fact that people were going hungry. As the Bengali writer Kali Charan Ghosh reports, 80,000 tons of food grain were exported from Bengal in 1943, just before the famine. At the time, India was being used as a supply base for the British military. “Huge exports were allowed to feed the people of other lands while the shadow of famine was hourly lengthening on the Indian horizon.”

More than one-fifth of the nation’s output was appropriated for war supplies. The starving Bengal peasants gave up over two-thirds of the food they produced, leading their debt to double. This coupled with speculation, hoarding, and profiteering by traders, led to skyrocketing prices. The poor of Bengal paid for the empire’s war through hunger and starvation–and the “funeral march of the Bengal peasants, fishermen and artisans.”

source: Vandana Shiva, Stolen Harvest, pp. 5-6[/quote]

I still admire Vandana Shiva. I realise that those who have a vested interest in the current global economic system will never take her views seriously. I know that her views are considered extremely radical by many. At the same time I believe that those who believe in limitless economic growth and have little regard for environmental issues are even more radical, but their views are accepted for a variety of reasons (mainly because they represent the status quo and [currently] dominant paradigm).

[added later] here is a quite balanced article on Vandana Shiva and her critics: Vandana Shiva: The Paradigm Warrior in Pursuit of Environmental Justice

I’m biting my lip… Salmon, please say something.

P.S. I think the word paradigm should be banned.

I’d not heard of Vandana Shiva before this thread and that article, which makes her sound as I said like a fraud. I’d be interested in a cogent defence of her views. From what I read though, calling her views radical seems complacent. Nutrients have to be returned to the earth for farming to be sustained. All the cow pats in India will not and would not be enough. Suggesting they would isn’t radical (and I don’t see the relevance to this of the Raj’s odious policies 50 years ago). It’s foolish and irresponsible.

The article I pointed to suggests that in their regard for the environment, Vandana Shiva’s campaigns keep people in pristine poverty. As [many people] said, the experience in India has shown that poverty is very sustainable. A little more focus on practical measures to lift people from poverty, a little less on holistic ecofeminism, please. Economic development is just one facet of development but it is extremely important because with a little cash in hand, doors are opened to education, healthcare, political participation and more.

Come on salmon, you admit you hardly know anything about her and you call her a fraud. If your knowledge of her is mostly formed by reading one article that critiques her views then obviously you are not going to think much of her, but at least inform yourself a bit better before you start labelling her a fraud.

I suggest you read a short online cv and also her citation for the Right Livelihood Award to at least get some idea about who she is and what she has done. Note the number of awards she has received from various organisations. While these do not give her credibility per se, they do indicate that she is highly respected by many people.


Getting back to the topic of GM food I suggest people have a look at these websites to inform themselves about GM food. They offer a variety of viewpoints so you can make up your own mind on the issue. I would be interested to hear a few more people’s viewpoints. So far only three people have made a significant contribution to this thread.

GM Foods – New Scientist

GM Food – Scope

I also like The Ecologist, but please note it is anti-GM food. Check out the articles about biotechnology, farming, GM, and food.

Come on salmon, you admit you hardly know anything about her and you call her a fraud.[/quote]

Nope, I said the article makes her sound like one, but yes, back to the topic.