Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned scientist, author and activist and Director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology. She is a visionary who has been battling for India’s food security and upholding farmers’ rights.

As yet another example of the desperate ‘science’ of Monsanto, it is now being argued that genetically engineered Bt cotton – introduced in India in 1997 – has liberated Indian women. In a paper authored by Arjunan Subramanian, Kerry Kirwan, David Pink and MatinQaim, the argument is that the crop produces massive gains for women’s employment in India.

 

But this argument is false on many grounds.

We need a new paradigm for living on the Earth. An alternative to the present paradigm is now a survival imperative for the human species. And the alternative that is needed is not only at the level of tools or technologies: it is at the level of our worldview. How do we look at ourselves in this world? What are humans for? Are we merely a money-making and resource-guzzling machine? or do we have a higher purpose?

In Hind Swaraj, Gandhi exhorts using ‘soul force’ as a means to seek ‘right livelihood’ – which is what real freedom is all about.

 

Gandhi's Hind Swaraj has for me, been the best teaching on real freedom. It teaches the gospel of love in place of hate. It replaces violence with self-sacrifice. It puts 'soul force' against brute force. For Gandhi, slavery and violence were not just a consequence of imperialism: a deeper slavery and violence were intrinsic to industrialism, which Gandhi called “modern civilisation”.

Seed monopoly, patenting and arm-twisting by large transnational corporations in cahoots with government policies are engendering a new colonialism where we are losing our right to food sovereignty. The fact that 6 TNCs are controlling 60 to 80% of seeds, grain processing and trade in food crops is definitely leading to the disempowerment of the farmer as well as the city-dweller.

I think the very first thing to recognize about food is that it is the very basis of life, and this is something that ecologists often forget. They treat food as one thing and Nature as wilderness somewhere else: the assumption is if you produce food you cannot have Nature, if you have Nature you cannot meet human needs. And so we build up these amazing dualisms that force us constantly into more destructive routes towards meeting our vital needs, fooling us into believing that the more resources you consume and destroy through intensive agriculture, the more you ‘save’ Nature.