Vandana Shiva

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Person.png Vandana Shiva   Amazon Sourcewatch Unwelcome Guests WebsiteRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(Philosopher, Environmentalist, Author, Social activist)
Dr. Vandana Shiva DS.jpg
BornVandana Shiva
5 November 1952
Uttar Pradesh, India
Alma materPanjab_University, University of Guelph, University of Western Ontario
Member ofInstitute for Policy Studies
Interests • GMO
• Big Agriculture
• Monsanto
• Cargill
• Food
Anti-globalization and anti-GMO activist

Vandana Shiva is an Indian scholar, environmental activist, food sovereignty advocate, and anti-globalization author.[1] Based in Delhi, Shiva has written more than 20 books.[2] She is often referred as "Gandhi of grain" for her activism associated with anti-GMO movement.[3]

“The gradual spread of sterility in seeding plants would result in a global catastrophe that could eventually wipe out higher life forms, including humans, from the planet.”
Vandana Shiva [4]


Vandana Shiva has written and spoken extensively about advances in the fields of agriculture and food. Intellectual property rights, biodiversity, biotechnology, bioethics, and genetic engineering are among the fields where Shiva has fought through activist campaigns. She has assisted grassroots organizations of the Green movement in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland, and Austria with opposition to advances in agricultural development via genetic engineering.

In 1982, she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology.[5] This led to the creation of Navdanya in 1991, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade.[6] Navdanya, which translates to "Nine Seeds" or "New Gift", is an initiative of the RFSTE to educate farmers of the benefits of maintaining diverse and individualized crops rather than accepting offers from monoculture food producers. The initiative established over 40 seed banks across India to provide regional opportunity for diverse agriculture. [7]

Shiva has was also an advisor to governments in India and abroad as well as non-governmental organizations, including the International Forum on Globalization, the Women's Environment & Development Organization and the Third World Network. She chairs the Commission on the Future of Food set up by the Region of Tuscany in Italy and is a member of the Scientific Committee that advised former prime minister Zapatero of Spain. Shiva is a member of the Steering Committee of the Indian People's Campaign Against WTO. She is a councilor of the World Future Council. Shiva serves on Government of India Committees on Organic Farming. She participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions project in 2007.[8]


Shiva has worked to promote biodiversity in agriculture to increase productivity, nutrition, farmer's incomes and it is for this work she was recognised as an 'environmental hero' by Time magazine in 2003.[9] Her work on agriculture started in 1984 after the violence in Punjab and the Bhopal disaster caused by a gas leak from Union Carbide's pesticide manufacturing plant. Her studies for the UN University led to the publication of her book The Violence of the Green Revolution.[10][11]

In an interview with David Barsamian, Shiva argues that the seed-chemical package promoted by green revolution agriculture has depleted fertile soil and destroyed living ecosystems.[12] In her work Shiva cites data allegedly demonstrating that today there are over 1400 pesticides that may enter the food system across the world.[13]

“If you look at the graph of the growth of G.M.O.s, the growth of application of glyphosate and autism, it’s literally a one-to-one correspondence. And you could make that graph for kidney failure, you could make that graph for diabetes, you could make that graph even for Alzheimer’s.”
Vandana Shiva [14]

Shiva is a founding councillor of the World Future Council (WFC). The WFC was formed in 2007 "to speak on behalf of policy solutions that serve the interests of future generations." Their primary focus has been on climate security.[15]

Seed freedom

Shiva supports the idea of seed freedom, or the rejection of corporate patents on seeds. She has campaigned against the implementation of the WTO 1994 Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement, which broadens the scope of patents to include life forms. Shiva has criticised the agreement as having close ties with the corporate sector and opening the door to further patents on life.[16] Shiva calls the patenting of life 'biopiracy', and has fought against attempted patents of several indigenous plants, such as basmati.[17] In 2005, Shiva's was one of the three organisations that won a 10-year battle in the European Patent Office against the biopiracy of Neem by the US Department of Agriculture and the corporation WR Grace.[18] In 1998, Shiva's organisation Navdanya began a campaign against the biopiracy of basmati rice by US corporation RiceTec Inc. In 2001, following intensive campaigning, RiceTec lost most of its claims to the patent.

Shiva strongly opposes golden rice, a breed of rice that has been genetically engineered to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. It has the potential to assist in alleviating the vitamin A deficiency suffered by a third of preschool-aged children worldwide.[19] Shiva claims that Golden Rice is more harmful than beneficial in her explanation of what she calls the "Golden Rice hoax": "Unfortunately, Vitamin A rice is a hoax, and will bring further dispute to plant genetic engineering where public relations exercises seem to have replaced science in promotion of untested, unproven and unnecessary technology... This is a recipe for creating hunger and malnutrition, not solving it."[20]

GM, India and suicides

According to Shiva, "Soaring seed prices in India have resulted in many farmers being mired in debt and turning to suicide". The creation of seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties, and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides, and agrarian distress. According to data from the Indian government, nearly 75 per cent rural debt is due to purchased inputs. Shiva claims that farmers' debt grows as GMO corporation's profits grow. According to Shiva, it is in this systemic sense that GM seeds are those of suicide.

International Food Policy Research Institute (financed by Big Agriculture) twice analyzed academic articles and government data and concluded the decrease and that there was no evidence on "resurgence" of farmer suicide.[21][22] Shiva replied to these assertions, that her critics had reduced the issue to GM cottons and ignored the issue of seed monopolies, and that the suicide figures were from the government statistics of the National Bureau of Crime records.[23]

By challenging the neo-liberalization of Indian agriculture, Shiva has opposed multinational companies such as Monsanto and Cargill. In her book, Cargill and the Corporate Hijack of India's Food Agriculture, Shiva examines the actions of both the U.S. and Indian governments which enabled policy shifts which have driven India to become the largest wheat importer in the world, when it already stood as the second-largest wheat producer, which would have satiated most of the nation's needs. She also describes methodologies of food-policy decentralization in government and industry, and says that centralization has disproportionately benefited large multinationals without achieving the promised food security and nutritional requirements where Indian farmers adopted bio-technologies en masse. Under globalization, portions of arable land cultivation turn to non-food and/or non-staple agricultural production; with increasing access to food export to markets where profit margins can rise. This can lead to the aforementioned restructuring of national import economies.[24]

“When Bill Gates pours money into Africa for feeding the poor in Africa and preventing famine, he’s pushing the failed Green Revolution, he’s pushing chemicals, pushing GMOs, pushing patterns.”
Vandana Shiva [25]

Indian Intelligence Bureau Investigation

In June 2014, Indian and international media reported that Navdanya and Vandana Shiva were named in a leaked, classified report by India's Intelligence Bureau (IB), which was prepared for the Indian Prime Minister's Office.[26]

The leaked report says that campaigning activities of Indian NGOs such as Navdanya are hampering India's growth and development. In its report, the IB said that Indian NGOs, including Navdanya, receive money from foreign donors under the 'charitable garb' of campaigning for human rights or women's equality, but instead use the money for nefarious purposes. "These foreign donors lead local NGOs to provide field reports which are used to build a record against India and serve as tools for the strategic foreign policy interests of the Western governments," the IB report states.[27]

Further reading

  • Bill Gates Empires 'Must Be Dismantled' "By funding research and financing public institutions, Gates is able to force those institutions down a path where they can only use his patented intellectual property"
  • One Earth, One Humanity vs. the 1% (book by Vandana Shiva) Quote:

"On the 64. WHO summit Gates said, his business model is patents. First sponsoring vaccine development and then buying patents for the vaccine technology, so that tax exempt foundations create profits through intellectual property." [28]


A Document by Vandana Shiva

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)
Document:The Great Seed Robberywebpage21 August 2011Monsanto
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  4. "Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply" (2001), p.83
  6. |
  9. Dr. Vandana Shiva - EcoWatch
  10. Fight Droughts with Science: Better crops could ease India's monsoon worries, Henry I. Miller, Stanford University's Hoover Institution, Wall Street Journal, 12 August 2009.
  14. quoted in "Seeds of Doubt" by Michael Specter, The New Yorker (25 August 2014)
  19. Global prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in populations at risk 1995–2005, WHO Global Database on Vitamin A Deficiency. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2009.
  21. Bt Cotton and farmer suicides in India: Reviewing the evidence, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 2008. Abstract, page 27 and Figure 11.
  24. Vandana, Shiva (2007). Cargill and the Corporate Hijack of Indias Food & Agriculture. New Delhi: Navdanya/RFSTE.
  28. (Ger), -At the 64th World Health Assembly in Geneva on May 16, 2011, Gates admitted that the foundation funds research on vaccines and then acquires patents on them. He said, "In terms of intellectual property, what we do is actually very simple: we fund research, and we ourselves or our partners create intellectual property, so that anything that is invented with the help of foundation money and goes to richer countries actually pays off.-