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The Vandana Shiva Reader

The Vandana Shiva Reader

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    The Vandana Shiva Reader
    Book Description:

    "Her great virtue as an advocate is that she is not a reductionist. Her awareness of the complex connections among economy and nature and culture preserves her from oversimplification. So does her understanding of the importance of diversity." -- Wendell Berry, from the foreword

    Motivated by agricultural devastation in her home country of India, Vandana Shiva became one of the world's most influential and highly acclaimed environmental and antiglobalization activists. Her groundbreaking research has exposed the destructive effects of monocultures and commercial agriculture and revealed the links between ecology, gender, and poverty.

    InThe Vandana Shiva Reader, Shiva assembles her most influential writings, combining trenchant critiques of the corporate monopolization of agriculture with a powerful defense of biodiversity and food democracy. Containing up-to-date data and a foreword by Wendell Berry, this essential collection demonstrates the full range of Shiva's research and activism, from her condemnation of commercial seed technology, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the international agriculture industry's dependence on fossil fuels, to her tireless documentation of the extensive human costs of ecological deterioration.

    This important volume illuminates Shiva's profound understanding of both the perils and potential of our interconnected world and calls on citizens of all nations to renew their commitment to love and care for soil, seeds, and people.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4699-7
    Subjects: Technology, Sociology, Language & Literature, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Wendell Berry

    I count it a privilege and a pleasure to be Vandana Shiva’s friend—not least because, as her friend, I am spared the pain and suffering that she bestows upon her enemies. Her enemies are the radical oversimplifiers, the colonizers, of the global industrial corporations and their for-hire experts; the complacent, the indifferent, the inert; and the do-gooders who think that any version or device of technological progress is a charity.

    Her advocacy for many years has been “the defense of the local through a global alliance.” Nobody better represents that possibility or has done more to promote it. In...

  4. Introduction: From Quanta to the Seed: An Unpredictable Journey
    (pp. 1-8)

    Physics was my passion and my chosen profession. In school I received the Science Talent Scholarship, which gave me the opportunity to train in India’s leading scientific institutions. I trained to be a nuclear physicist in the Baba Atomic Research Centre, but moved to theoretical physics when my sister Mira, a medical doctor, made me aware of nuclear hazards. I realized then that most science is partial. I wanted to practice a holistic science and was drawn to quantum theory for its nonreductionist, nonmechanist paradigm.

    Before leaving for Canada to do my PhD in the foundations of quantum theory, I...

  5. 1 The Gendered Politics of Food
    (pp. 9-14)

    The Age of Enlightenment, and the theory of progress to which it gave rise, was centered on the sacredness of two categories: modern scientific knowledge and economic development. Somewhere along the way, the unbridled pursuit of progress, guided by science and development, began to destroy life without any assessment of how much of the diversity of life on this planet is disappearing—and how fast. The act of living, of celebrating and conserving life in all its diversity—in people and in nature—seems to have been sacrificed to progress, and the sanctity of life has been substituted by the...

  6. 2 Science and Politics in the Green Revolution
    (pp. 15-40)

    In 1970, Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “a new world situation with regard to nutrition.” According to the Nobel Prize Committee, “The kinds of grain which are the result of Dr. Borlaug’s work speed economic growth in general in the developing countries.”¹ The “miracle seeds” that Borlaug had created were seen as a source of new abundance and peace. Science was applauded for having a magical ability to solve problems of material scarcity and violence.

    “Green Revolution” is the name given to this science-based transformation of third world agriculture, and the Indian Punjab was its most...

  7. 3 The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply
    (pp. 41-54)

    Food is our most basic need, the very stuff of life. According to an ancient Indian Upanishad, “All that is born is born ofanna[food]. Whatever exists on earth is born ofanna, lives onanna, and in the end merges intoanna. Annaindeed is the first born amongst all beings.”¹

    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...

  8. 4 Hunger by Design
    (pp. 55-70)

    Why is every fourth Indian hungry? Why is every third woman in India anemic and malnourished? Why is every second child underweight, stunted, and wasted? Why has the hunger and malnutrition crisis deepened even as India has seen 9 percent growth? Why is “shining India” a starving India?

    In my view, hunger is a structural part of the design of the Green Revolution, a design for scarcity. There is now much talk of a second “Green Revolution” in India and a “Green Revolution” in Africa. The second Green Revolution is based on genetic engineering, which is being introduced into agriculture...

  9. 5 Monocultures of the Mind
    (pp. 71-112)

    In Argentina, when the dominant political system faces dissent, it responds by making the dissidents disappear. Thedesaparecidos, or the disappeared dissidents, share the fate of local knowledge systems throughout the world, which have been conquered through the politics of disappearance, not the politics of debate and dialogue.

    The disappearance of local knowledge through its interaction with the dominant Western knowledge takes place at many levels, through many steps. First, local knowledge is made to disappear by simply not seeing it, by negating its very existence. This is very easy in the distant gaze of the globalizing dominant system. The...

  10. 6 Toward a New Agriculture Paradigm: Health per Acre
    (pp. 113-138)

    The old paradigm of food and agriculture is clearly broken. As the report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) carried out by four hundred scientists over six years for the United Nations has noted, “Business as usual is no longer an option.”

    The old paradigm of agriculture has its roots in war. An industry that had grown by making explosives and chemicals for the war remodeled itself as the agrochemical industry when the wars ended. Explosive factories started to make synthetic fertilizers; war chemicals started to be used as pesticides and herbicides. The...

  11. 7 Can Life Be Made? Can Life Be Owned? Redefining Biodiversity
    (pp. 139-158)

    In 1971, General Electric and one of its employees, Anand Mohan Chakravarty, applied for a U.S. patent on a genetically engineered pseudomonas bacteria. Taking plasmids from three kinds of bacteria, Chakravarty transplanted them into a fourth. As he explained, “I simply shuffled genes, changing bacteria that already existed.” Chakravarty was granted his patent on the grounds that the microorganism was not a product of nature but his invention and, therefore, patentable. As Andrew Kimbrell, a leading U.S. lawyer, recounts, “In coming to its precedent-shattering decision, the court seemed unaware that the inventor himself had characterized his ‘creation’ of the microbe...

  12. 8 The Seed and the Earth
    (pp. 159-178)

    Regeneration lies at the heart of life and has been the central principle guiding sustainable societies; without regeneration, there can be no sustainability. Modern industrial society, however, has no time for thinking about regeneration and therefore no space for living regeneratively. Its devaluation of the processes of regeneration is the cause of both the ecological crisis and the crisis of sustainability.

    In theRig Veda, the hymn to the healing plants, medicinal plants are referred to as mothers because they sustain us.

    Mothers, you have a hundred forms and a thousand growths.

    You who have a hundred ways of working,...

  13. 9 Seeds of Suicide: The Ecological and Human Costs of the Globalization of Agriculture
    (pp. 179-218)

    This study takes stock of the impact of a decade of trade liberalization on the lives and livelihood of farmers. Across India farmers are taking the desperate step of ending their lives because of new pressures building up on them as a result of globalization and the corporate takeover of seed supply, leading to the spread of capital-intensive agriculture and the propagation of nonsustainable agriculture practices. The lure of huge profits linked with clever advertising strategies evolved by the seed and chemical industries and easy credit for the purchase of costly inputs is forcing farmers into a chemical treadmill and...

  14. 10 Seed Freedom—What Is at Stake
    (pp. 219-228)

    Seed is not just the source of life. It is the very foundation of our being. For millions of years, seed has evolved freely to give us the diversity and richness of life on the planet. For thousands of years farmers, especially women, have evolved and bred seed freely in partnership with each other and with nature to further increase the diversity of that which nature gave us and adapt it to the needs of different cultures. Biodiversity and cultural diversity have mutually shaped one another.

    Today, the freedom of nature and culture to evolve is under violent and direct...

  15. 11 Food and Water
    (pp. 229-238)

    Food and water are our most basic needs. Without water, food production is not possible. That is why drought and water scarcity translate into a decline of food production and an increase in hunger. Traditionally, food cultures evolved in response to the water possibilities surrounding them. Water-prudent crops emerged in water-scarce regions, and water-demanding ones evolved in water-rich regions.

    In the wet territories of Asia, rice cultures evolved and paddy field irrigation dominated. In the arid and semiarid tracts across the world, wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, and millet emerged as staples. In high-altitude regions, pseudo-cereals such as buckwheat provided nutrition....

  16. 12 Soil, Not Oil
    (pp. 239-276)

    Industrialized agriculture and globalized food systems have been put forth as sources of cheap and abundant food. However, food is no longer cheap. The era of cheap food and cheap oil is over. The food crisis, mainly triggered by rising prices, that emerged in 2007 and 2008 has led to food riots in many countries. From 2007 to 2008 the price of wheat increased by 130 percent.¹ The price of rice doubled during the first three months of 2008.² Biofuels, speculation, destruction of local food economies, and climate change have all contributed to the rise in food prices. Climate change...

  17. 13 The GMO Emperor Has No Clothes: Genetic Engineering Is a Failed Technology
    (pp. 277-298)

    Technologies are tools. They are ways of doing, or making things. They are means of transforming what nature has given into food, clothing, shelter, means of mobility, means of communication. The wordtechnologyis derived from two Greek words:techne, which means tools, methods, means, andlogos, which refers to thought or expression. As a tool, a technology is as good as the human ends it serves. It is not an end in itself. Yet technology has been elevated to a human end in our times.

    Tools, methods, and means are assessed and evaluated on the basis of the ends...

  18. Appendix: Tables
    (pp. 299-328)
  19. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 329-332)
  20. Copyrights and Permissions
    (pp. 333-334)
  21. Index
    (pp. 335-354)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 355-356)