Vandana Shiva is touted as an environmentalist hero, and is perhaps the most adored of anti-GMO leaders. She’s invited to speak at venues across the world, including academic institutions, environmental conferences, activist rallies and more, to the dismay of those who support the use of agricultural biotechnology for environmental and social justice. The truth is, Shiva’s narrative is rife with myths about genetic engineering and how it benefits farmers around the world, the environment, and the people. This narrative helps fuel the lobby and the public sentiment that keep many of these very real benefits from reaching those who can wield it for good. Below, read the truth about Shiva’s take on GMOs.
When Shiva writes that “Golden Rice will make the malnutrition crisis worse” and that it will kill people, she reinforces the worst fears of her largely Western audience. Much of what she says resonates with the many people who feel that profit-seeking corporations hold too much power over the food they eat. Theirs is an argument well worth making. But her statements are rarely supported by data, and her positions often seem more like those of an end-of-days mystic than like those of a scientist.
Seeds of Doubt Michael Specter, The New Yorker
Dr. Rajini Rao, professor and Graduate Program Director at Johns Hopkins, whose research expertise is in ion transporters, said she is “embarrassed by the role of these prominent women of Indian origin, Vandana Shiva and Vani Hari, in propagating misinformation and anti-GMO hysteria.” The Indian-born scientist, who lived in Vandana Shiva’s birthplace of Dehradun for three years as a child, continued, “I think [genetic modification] is a useful technology that India cannot afford to reject, against scientific consensus for its safety.”
Vandana Shiva Achieves Amazing Feat Of Appropriating Her Own Culture Kavin Senapathy, Forbes
Shiva’s fixation on the suicides of Indian farmers grew after the Indian government in 2002 officially approved Monsanto’s genetically engineered Bt cotton crop. By the mid-2000s, Shiva and her allies in the anti-GMO movement were advancing a storyline that coincided with increasing media coverage of Indian farmer suicides. In a 2006 report published by her organization, Navdanya, Shiva asserted that the higher seed cost and purported failure of “Monsanto’s Bt. cotton has already pushed thousands of Indian farmers into debt, despair and death.” This “failure” was asserted for Bt crops that were ruined by pests or drought, causing the farmer to pile up debts. The report states: “Genetic engineering is killing Indian farmers.”
The GMO-Suicide Myth Keith Kloor, Issues in Science and Technology
To her, GMOs are part of a world of death, while opposing GMOs is all about joy and freedom. She is anti-corporate, anti-West, anti-globalization, and anti-technology. Her campaign is largely one of lies and misinformation. She would also apparently rather have people starve than eat GMOs.
The Myths of Vandana Shiva Steven Novella, Neurologica