In a 2012 interview, Bill Moyers referred to Vandana Shiva as the “rock star” of the anti-GMO movement. What are the facts behind the curtain?
NOTE: For more background, also check out the GLP’s in-depth profile of Shiva: Who is Vandana Shiva and why is she saying such awful things about GMOs?
Vandana Shiva (born 1952) is an anti-globalization, anti-corporate, deep ecology and radical eco-feminism activist whose campaigns focus primarily on food and agriculture socio-economic issues via opposition to GMOs, free trade and intellectual property rights. Shiva alternately promotes land redistribution, indigenous and peasant farmers rights, organic-only food production and ayurvedic health practices over conventional medicines which she characterizes as an “earth democracy” movement necessary to restore “harmony” people and nature.
Shiva responds to allegations that her initiatives and views prevent peasants from moving out of poverty and lock them into a life of “subsistence” while she enjoys first class international travel and a comparatively wealthy lifestyle with the statement, “Resource scarcity is not that bad for it renews ones commitment to human quality.” And that poverty is a culturally perceived bias against indigenous rights to subsistence by Western elites.
Shiva claims there was no hunger in India prior to the Green Revolution, which she counters was the cause of poverty, indebtedness and despair for farmers. ‘Shivas claims of “no hunger” in India prior to the Green Revolution (typically dated in the late 1960’s-1970’s) do not jive with the fact that famines in India resulted in more than 60 million deaths over the course of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries.’ The last major famine was the Bengal famine of 1943 (Between 1.5 and 4 million people died of starvation, malnutrition and disease, out of Bengals 60.3 million population during this famine). Whereas, the drought of Maharashtra after the Green Revolution in 1970–1973 is often cited as one of the first examples in which successful famine prevention processes were employed. Famines in India were severe enough to have a substantial impact on the long term population growth of the country in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Shiva has assisted grassroots and political organizations of the Green and Natural Law movements in Africa, North America, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland, and Austria with campaigns against genetic engineering. On a visit to Zimbabwe in June 2014, Shiva urged the Zimbabwean government to empower small-holder farmers by protecting their right to use indigenous seeds and resist corporate industrialization of African agriculture. She is known for her ultra-radical campaigns against biotechnology and specifically Monsanto including “Cremate Monsanto” and the “Seed Suicide” coalition opposing even the testing of biotechnology crops and the active promotion of direct action campaigns, including eco-terrorism, to destroy field trials and research.
Shiva led 1998 direct action campaigns in India which sparked the burning of both GMO Bt and non-GMO conventional cotton fields. Her claims have been cited in support of vandalism destroying Golden Rice field trials in the Philippines. She asserts that farmers in India are committing mass suicide driven by Monsanto patented seeds and chemical dependency on GMO crops.
Shiva is vehemently anti-“Western science” for its alleged foundation in materialism versus “Natural Law” which she claims is based on a foundation of societal healing. Shiva supplements her western research with the wisdom of Vedic yoga and uses “radical ecology systems theory” to redirect traditional systems of western social control noting, “Self-healing and repair is another characteristic of living systems that derives from complexity and self-organization…External control reduces the degrees of freedom a system has, thereby reducing its capacity to organize and renew itself…A system is autopoietic when its function is primarily geared toward self-renewal. An autopoietic system refers to itself sovereignty.“
Shiva’s career has been limited to professional advocacy related activities in the NGO sector with no other academic, commercial or direct government experience. She does not formally report income for her organizations or activities nor does she report sources of financial support for her significant global campaigning, travel and related costs. However, she claims to have served as a consultant to governments in India and abroad as well as non-governmental organisations, including the International Forum on Globalization, the Women’s Environment & Development Organization and the Third World Network. Shiva 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 which 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 and serves on Government of India Committees on Organic Farming.
Vandana Shiva claims to be working on a 3-year project with the Government of Bhutan, at the invitation of the Prime Minister Jigme Thinley, advising the government on how to achieve their objective of becoming an organic sovereign country (the first fully 100% organic country). As detailed via her organizations below, Shiva’s strategy is to create broad-based networks from which she claims partnerships and affiliations to leverage her advocacy influence. Few references exist to named staff outside of Vandana Shiva for her formal organizations; however, they cite numerous locations and facilities. She serves on the National Board of Organic Standards for India.
Education & Honors
- St Mary’s School in Nainital, India
- The Convent of Jesus and Mary in Dehradun, India.
- Bachelors degree in physics and M.A. in the Philosophy of Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada in 1977 – thesis entitled “Changes in the concept of periodicity of light”.
- PhD in Philosophy (not Physics) from the University of Western Ontario (1978). Her thesis, titled “Hidden variables and locality in quantum theory,” was about the philosophical underpinnings of quantum mechanics.(Note: Shiva is frequently noted as a PhD in nuclear or quantum physics, this is incorrect. Her PhD in Philosophy thesis was on the topic of physics with a specific foundation refuting “Bell’s Proof” – Bell’s Theorems (proof) have since been proven and widely accepted within the scientific literature.) In a 2012 interview, Shiva explains here rationale for her approach and philosophy to physics, noting her thesis was in “non-locality and quantum theory” for which she states there are two key principles: 1. everything is related (i.e., “The Butterfly Effect” – noting a butterfly in the Amazon can create storms on the opposite side of the world), explaining that industrial pollution in the U.S. and Europe 200 years ago is now responsible for the melting of polar ice caps); and 2, that quantum theory is about non-determinism which she says suggests everything has multiple values and that the world is about non-Boolean math where there is never an “either, or” only and addition.
- Claimed, “interdisciplinary research in science, technology, and environmental policy” at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore.
- Shiva has received honorary Doctorates from University of Paris, University of Western Ontario, University of Oslo and Connecticut College.
- Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award, 1993), Order of the Golden Ark, Global 500 Award of UN and Earth Day International Award. Lennon ONO grant for peace award by Yoko Ono in 2009, Sydney Peace Prize in 2010, Doshi Bridgebuilder Award, Calgary Peace Prize and Thomas Merton Award in the year 2011. Time Magazine identified Shiva as an environmental “hero” in 2003 and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators of Asia. Forbes magazine in November 2010 has identified Shiva as one of the top Seven most Powerful Women on the Globe
Vandana Shiva does not openly report her income or sources; however, several organizations that do make public reports note funding Shiva or her noted entities. In the United States, Andrew Kimbrell and the Center for Food Safety (CFS) claim to be her “fiscal sponsor” and support her work through their Washington, D.C. offices. On top of direct support from CFS, in 2010 they formed a formal U.S. based 501c3 called “Friends of Navdanya” with CFS’s Debbie Barker (also a fellow International Forum on Globalization (IFG) with Shiva) as board member. In 2010-2011 “Friends” raised and directed about $109,000 in funds to Shiva’s work and they created another 501c3 via their San Francisco office called “Save Our Seeds International” to direct support to Shiva’s efforts overseas in partnership with SOS’s German counterpart Foundation on Future Farming (an organic, anti-GMO advocacy group).
Navdanya openly promotes itself as a multi-national organization which coordinates communications with other NGOs and partners throughout the world in its fundraising solicitations. A 2014 report by the Indian government revealed Shiva’s Navdanya NGO received “16.7 crore (approximately US$8 million) between 2006 and 2012 in foreign donations from mainly Christian churches and the European Union.” Others reporting funding Shiva include:
- HIVOS International](Dutch NGO) is noted as “one of the main funders” of Shiva’s Navdanya organization.
- Bread for the World (Germany) is also noted as a major funder of Navdanya.
- Small Planet Fund (Formerly the Rudolph Steiner Foundation – a project of Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe)reports funding to Vandana Shiva
- The Glaser Progress Foundation (Animal Advocacy, Indy Media and Global HIV)
- Church Development Services (Germany – Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) – Indo-German Bilateral Project (IGBP)) via the Sustainnet project
- Various UN Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports reference Navayanda programs and sales of related resources suggesting they are also a formal source of financial support for Vandana Shiva’s initiatives.
- UK deep ecologist and philanthropist the late Edward Goldsmith was a noted supporter of Shiva’s and served as Bija guru at Shiva’s Bija Vidyapeeth (Centre for Learning) in India.
- Ford Foundation 2003 grant to Navdanya Trust (India)$118,845 For a program of workshops,publication and public hearings to strengthen communities’capacity to assert their resource rights.
- Avalon Foundation multi-year funding partnerships with Navdanya.
While Shiva’s campaigns are largely outside financed, some of her’s operations claim to be “self sufficient” and not reliant upon outside donors (although international groups and individuals are clearly some of her “customers”) providing income generation for her other activities. These include the Navdanya organic farm and education center, Navdanya organization of festivals, workshops and exhibitions, and the Navdanya fair trade network whose customers include a major Indian oil company. Shiva also reportedly commands high fees for her numerous annual speaking engagements.
Navdanya publishing generates income via the sale of Vandana Shiva books and pamphlets and branded organic t-shirts, shampoos and other products. Finally, Navdanya charges annual membership fees to more than 2,000 “partner” members (a sample list is noted below) and received unreported material gifts from members (such as staff support and U.S. office space from groups like the Center for Food Safety). Shiva is explicit in noting that funding she accepts is “non-conditional” and without reporting requirements to donors about the end use of funds. Her advocacy campaigns are reportedly highly dependent upon outside International funding, and thus have created challenges linked to India’s NGO regulatory rules and FCRA laws restricting outside financing of NGOs which foment political agitation. According to one of several speakers bureaus representing Vandana Shiva her 2014 speaking fee is $40,000 per event plus round trip business class travel from New Delhi, India.
Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology
Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE) was founded in Dehra Dun, Uttar Pradesh (INDIA) in 1982 by Vandana Shiva. RFSTE does NOT appear to be a formally registered charity with the India NGO Partnership System. It claimed to “work on biodiversity conservation and protecting people’s rights from threats to their livelihoods and environment by centralised systems of monoculture in forestry, agriculture and fisheries.” Website (no longer live): http://www.vshiva.net/ RFSTE appears to have largely transitioned into a broader alliance-based network set up by Vandana Shiva under the auspices of a project called Navdanya. Both RFSTE and Navdanya refuse to disclose their funding sources or expenditures and Vandana Shiva is the only staff person formally named in their materials and publications. Prior to her shift in focus to Navdanya, Shiva’s RFSTE claimed “partnerships” with “an international forum for ecological and spiritual thinking” that promoted “deep ecology, holistic science, and creative living linked to the Resurgence Trust (Publishers of the Ecologist Magazine). Her “partner organizations” with RFSTE included:
- Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)
- Pesticide Action Network
- Network for Safe and Secure Food Environment
- Food First
- Pure Food Campaign (Organic Consumers Association)
- Centre for Alternative Development Initiatives
- Union of Concerned Scientists
- SeedSave (Seed Savers Network of Australia)
- Friends of the Earth
- Sierra Club
- Mangrove Action Network
- Institute for Sustainable Development, Ethiopia
- RENACE (Chilean Ecological Action Network)
- The Edmonds Institute
- Gene Watch
- Genetic Forum
- Mae-Wan Ho Institute for Science in Society (ISIS)
- Brian Goodwin
- Global Commons Institute
- Third World Network
- No Patents on Life
- RAFI (now ETC Group)
- World Council of Churches
- International Forum on Globalization
- The Goa Foundation
- People Centered Development Forum
- Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
- AS_PTA (Brazil)
- Indigenous Peoples Coalition Against Biopiracy
- Foundation for the Philippines Environment
- Cordillera People’s Alliance & Cordillera Women’s Education Resource Centre
- Cultural Survival Canada
- Diverse Women for Diversity
- Fondo Paltrimonio Natural Europeo
Navdanya (aka Agrotech Research Foundation) began in 1984 as a program of RFSTE and was formally registered under the umbrella organization of “The Paul Foundation.” Navdanya claims to be “A participatory research initiative founded by the scientist and environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva, to provide direction and support to environmental activism under the umbrella concept of Earth Democracy (an outgrowth of the social ecology political movement, promoting seed, water, land, food and indigenous peoples’ sovereignty). The organization runs as a mixed NGO (receiving funds from outside groups), membership association (generating fees from annual dues), Trust (distributing funds to third-party groups), and business operation (generating income from the fees and monies associated with the sale of organic products, meetings, conferences, exhibitions, training seminars and publishing).
“Navdanya” means “nine crops” that represent India’s collective source of “food security”. The organization claims to have helped more than 200,000 farmers convert to organic agriculture while training another 500,000 farmers in organic practices. They mix their peasant farmer organic conversion support programs with political education and organizing programs in opposition to capitalism, free trade and any private sector for-profit role in society. Navdanya reports employing more than 100 paid staff and as many as 1,000 volunteers. Navdanya reports being “born out of the vision to create alternatives to gigantism and centralisation by building on the strengths of the small and decentralized” whose core elements are “seed distribution and research, fair trade networks, alternative education and knowledge networks (Swadeshi), mobilisation and campaigning and advocacy and lobbying (Satyagraha) in the creation of radical space.”
Navdanaya organizes peasant farmers by offering them free seeds in return for the promise they will save the seeds and share a percentage of the saved seeds free with other farmers instead of purchasing “corporate seeds” with promises of higher yields. In this exchange they also help convert farmers “back to organic” methods. Navdanaya then helps redistribute and sell any of the organic surpluses for a fee via their fair trade network. This helps gain access to member families and students and fund civic and political action trainings at the Navdanaya farm training center promoting a goal of “complete independence from capitalism.” While operating since 1984, Navdanya’s formal trust registration #6336 was only approved March 22, 1991 in Bangalore with 500 Rupees (less than $10 USD) donated by Vandana Shive establishing herself and Dr. Vanaja Ramprasad (Ms. Ramprasad is the founder of the Green Foundation and board member with global organic food certifying agency IFOAM.) as the sole trustees. FCRA Registration number 231650760. And, the Navdanya Trust became a formally registered NGO with the Indian Government NGO Partnership System in 2011: ID: DL/2011/0045351.
Via the Navdanya Trust in 2004, Shiva started “Earth University” (Bija Vidyapeeth), an international college for sustainable living in collaboration with the U.K.’s Schumacher College (an institution which teaches principals of Natural Law with ties to the Maharishi Institute in the United States). Earth University offers two and three day, and one and two week courses in organic agriculture, social ecology and earth democracy which attack chemical agriculture, corporate greed and the systems of capitalism.
Navdanya claims relationships and programs with various schools and Children’s Groups (claims to be “working with more than 100 schools across the country” to give them “exposure on Organic Farming and Biodiversity Conservation, Indigenous knowledge” as part of Navdanya programmes like Sagwadi, Good Food for All, Little Chef and Community Biodiversity Register for documentation of Indigenous knowledge about biodiversity: Wood Stock School Mussoorie; The Doon School; Hilton’s School; Ann Merry School; Convent of Jesus and Mary; Wehlem’s Boys and Girls School of Dehradun Rishi Valley School; Bangalore and Raj Ghat Besant School Banaras of Krishna Murti Foundation; Mothers International School; St. Marry School; S.D.D. Bal Mandir Public School; Salwan Public School Delhi; Tibetan TCV; Selaqui.
The group also cite an alliance with parliamentarians – Parliamentary groups of all political parties including CPI, CPM, Forward Block, Revolution Socialist Party, Jan Morcha, Congress I, BJP, Samata, Samajwadi, Janta Party etc. And, they are part of the Movement for Retail Democracy : Alliance against Mega Retailers – Partners in responding to the threat of mega retail like Walmart and Reliance are All India Association of Traders, National Association of Hawkers, FDI Watch and Trade Unions. Other claimed partnership claims include the Secretariat of His Holiness ‘Dalai Lama’ – Navdanya has trained Secretaries and Agriculture Extension Officers of the secretariat of His Holiness Dalai Lama, in Dharamshala from their secretariat as well as from their 45 major settlements across India in Biodiversity Conservation and organic farming. The training includes lectures as well as hands on training on different techniques of composting including vermicompost and improving soil fertility, biological pest management; cultivation of medicinal plants and Agro forestry etc.
Via Navdanya Shiva also claims to be an adviser to the Tibetan Government in Exile in their endeavor to promote and convert the land of Tibetan farmers to organic, who otherwise were involved in conventional farming. The other important aspect of this project is to create a Seed Bank in their settlements in different parts of India. The goal of which is not only to conserve the local varieties but also the indigenous as well as endangered seed varieties of the Tibetan plateau, which are currently under serious threat of extinction under Chinese occupation. The Tibetan government in exile is also a partner in Navdanya’s research and campaign on climate change in Himalaya. Navdanya Agrotech Research Foundation also claims to be an export facilitator for organic goods, nutraceuticals and dietary supplements led by Rahul Shiva (Supply Chain Manager). The organization claims multiple offices and organic farming/business locations: * Naydanya Headquareters c/o Dr. Vandana Shiva
- A-60, Hauz Khas, New Delhi – 110 016
- Phone : 91-11- 26968077 / 26532561 Fax : 91-11-26856795
- Email : firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
* Sede di Navdanya International
- Via De’ Pucci, 4 – 50122 Firenzi
- Tel. +39 055 286552
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Navdanya Office – Dehradun
- 105, Rajpur Road, Dehradun, 248 001, Uttarakhand
- Phone: 91-135-2743175 Telefax : 91-135-2749931
- Email : email@example.com
* Navdanya – Biodiversity Farm/Bija Vidyapeeth
- Village Ramgarh / Shishambara, Old Shimla Road, P.O Sherpur, Dehradun, Uttaranchal
- Phone : 91-135-2693025 / 2111015
- Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
* Navdanya Organic Slow Food Restaurant and Shop
- Dilli Haat, Shop No. 18 Opp. INA Market, New Delhi
- Phone : 91-11- 24121548
* Navdanya Organic Shop
- E 52, Hauz Khas Market, New Delhi 16
- Phone : 91-11- 40793565 / 26854069
* Navdanya Organic Shop – Mumbai
- No 10 Mayfair Housing Society, Oberoi – Raviraj Complex, Off Andheri Link Road, Andheri (West), Mumbai 400 053
- Phone : + 91-99204 18027
- Email : email@example.com
* Website Domain ID:D82255927-LROR
- Domain Name: NAVDANYA.ORG
- Created On:10-Jan-2002 12:38:28 UTC
- Last Updated On:22-Dec-2012 06:03:45 UTC
- Expiration Date:10-Jan-2016 12:38:28 UTC
- Sponsoring Registrar:Network Solutions, LLC (R63-LROR)
- Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
- Registrant ID:38927823-NSI
- Registrant Name: Navdanya Trust
- Registrant Organization: Navdanya Trust
- Registrant Street: A-60, Hauz Khas
- Registrant City: New Delhi
- Registrant State/Province:New Delhi
- Registrant Postal Code:110016
- Registrant Country:IN
- Registrant Phone:+1.91116853772
Navdanya, like it progenitor, promotes itself as a very broad based network of civil society group partners. These partners pay annual membership fees to Navdanya which help fund Shiva’s operations and advocacy. They include: (click expand to view list) Seed Savers and Organic Farmers Groups:
- Prakruti Paramparik Bihana Sangharakshana Abhijan
- Jharkhand Alternative Development Forum
- Women’s Alliance
- Sirmaur Farmers Association
- Himachal Pradesh
- Vidharbha Jan Andolan Samiti
- Green Foundation
- Beej Bachao Andolan
- Vrihi Bija Binimoy Kendra
- West Bengal
- Manvi Seva Sansthan, U.P.
- Gram Swaraj Prahari, U.P.
- Parisaran Samvrakshana Kendra
- Manvi, Jharkhand and Bihar
- Deshma Sikshan Sansthan
- Agricultural Renewal in India for Sustainable Environment (ARISE)
- Tamilnadu Organic Farmers Association
- Vidarbha Organic Farmers Association
- Art of Living
- His Holiness Delai Lama “Tibetan Government in Exile
- Dharamshala, H.P.
- Janhit Foundation
- Kheti Virasat
- Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies
- Vishal Udyogik Krishi Vikas Sansthan
Grassroots Farmer Organisations:
- Andhra Pradesh Ryotha Sangha
- Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha
- Paschim Orissa Krishi Jeevi Sangh
- All India Kisan Sabhas
- Agragami Kisan Sabha
- Bharat Krishak Samaj
- Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ambavat)
- Bharatiya Kisan Sangh
- Akhil Bharatiya Khet Majdoor Union
- Samyukta Kisan Sabha
- Karnataka Rajya Ryot Sangha (KRRS)
- Karnataka Farmer’s Association
- Bhartiya Kissan Union (Non-Political)
Ekta Women Groups:
- Diverse Women for Diversity
- National Alliance of Women Food Rights
- Women’s Alliance
- All India Women’s Conference
- Azadi Bachao Andolan
- National Commission for Women
- Kali for Women/ women Unlimited
- All India Democratic Women’s Association
- National Federation of Indian Women
- Shtrii Shakti
- Mahila Samakhya
- Tapovan, Sanyo-Ka-Sangathan
- The National Democratic Women’s Alliance
- Sabla Sangh
- Indian Social Forum and National Commission for Women
- the Women and Biodiversity Network of the region of Tuscan
- Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology
- Gandhi Peace Foundation
- Council for Social Development
- Development Alternatives
- Toxics Link
- the Other Media
- Indian Social Institute
- Institute of Social Sciences
- Multiple Action Research Group
- Action for Food Production
- National Productivity Council
- Animal Rights International
- National Alliance of People’s Movement
- Bharat Jan Andolan
- Indian Peoples Campaign Against WTO
- Deccan Development Society
- Centre for Science and Environment Tamil Nadu Gram Swaraj Movement
- Bombay Natural Society
- Centre for Environment and Communication
National Food Right Alliance
- Agrarian Assistance Association
- Centre for Youth and Social Development
- Manav Kalyan Trust
- Vigyan Shiksha Kendra
- Jan Jagaran Samiti
- Ekta Parishad,
- Sarbik Gram Bikas Kendra
- Bija Satyagraha.
Differently Abled Groups
- Ashraya Adhikar Abhiyan
- Raffel Homes
- Family of Disabled
Networks on Globalisation and WTO
- National Working Group on Patent Laws
- Indian Peoples Campaign Against WTO
- Azadi Bachao Andolan
- All India Drug Action Network
- People’s Health Network
- Lok Shakti Abhiyan
- Sarva Seva Sangh
- Rashtriya Yuvak Sangh
- NAPM, Samajwadi Abhiyan
- Lawyers’ Collective
- Our World is Not for Sale (OWINS)
- International Forum on Globalization
- Third World Network
- Sri S.P. Shukla
- Former Ambassador GATT, Mr. Abhani Roy, Member of Parliament, the Taj Mission
- Lokshakti Abhiyan
- Bharat Kisan Union
- Adivasi Kranti Sangathan
- Rashtriya Yuva Sangathan
- Haryana Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Samiti
Alliance for Water Democracy
- Tarun Bharat Sangh
- Paani Morcha
- Jal Board Employees Union
- Bharat Jagriti Mission Nyas
- Jal Prahari
- Yamuna Satyagraha
- Plachimada Movement against Coca Cola
- Coke Pepsi Free Campaign
- Azadi Bachao Aandolan
- Waterkeepers Alliance
- Water Warriors Network
- Council of Canadians
- Polaris Institute
- Food and Water Watch
- Global Water contract.
- Third World Network
- Gaia Foundation
- Schumacher College
- Institute for Sustainable Development, Ethiopia
- International Forum on Globalization
- Slow Food International
- Center for Food Safety
- Diverse Women for Diversity
- Waterkeepers Alliance
- Women’s Environment and Development Organisation
- World Social Forum
- Via Campesina
- People’s World Water Movement
- International Commission on the Future of Food, FAO
- Peasant Movement of the Philippines
- Terre des homes
- IBON Foundation Inc.
- UBINIG (Bangladesh)
- Focus on the Global South
- CAP (Malaysia)
- Project of Ecological Recovery
- PAN Indonesia
- ETC Group
- Food First
- Small Planet Institute
Vandana Shiva Affiliations
- Cofounder, Diverse Women for Diversity 
- Senior Scholar 2002, Institute for Policy Studies 
- International Steering Committee, Global Action to Prevent War 
- Associate, Gaia Foundation
- Resource Rights Advisory Board, Grassroots International 
- Advisory Board, JustMedia 
- Advisory Board, International Society for Ecology and Culture 
- Advisory Board, Living Routes 
- Advisory Board, People-Centered Development Forum 
- Advisory Board, Women in Security Conflict Management and Peace 
- Scientific Committee, IDEAS Foundation for Progress 
- Scientific Committee, Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity 
- Director, International Forum on Globalization 
- Executive Committee, World Future Council 
- International Advisory Board, Gaia University 
- International Advisory Board, Women’s Earth Alliance 
- Former Board Member, Women Environment and Development Organisation
- Former Vice President, Third World Network http://www.nativeweb.org/pages/legal/shiva.html
- Selection Committee, 11th Annual Brower Youth Award 
- Editorial Board, Solutions Journal 
- Messenger, 350.org 
- Jury Member (2008), Buckminster Fuller Challenge 
Vandana Shiva’s advocacy focus on opposition to intellectual property rights, capitalism, free trade and corporations. Shiva is noted for making extreme statements linking the use of GMOs to rape; calling for criminal destruction of GMO crops and research and,;prosecution of corporations who develop GMOs. Her claims of harms associated with GMOs, particularly claims they are failing and causing farmers to commit suicide, have consistently been debunked as false by independent academic peer reviewed published research. Shiva openly supports, defends and has encouraged acts of eco-terrorism and sabotage against GMO plants and research justifying them by claiming one can only commit violence against people, not against things. She has been also making claims of “hydro-piracy” claiming multinational corporations like Coca Cola are privatizing the world’s clean water supplies.
Soil Not Oil
Soil not Oil is Shiva’s most recent initiative tapping into global climate change concerns suggesting saving seeds and planting organic gardens will help reverse climate change which she claims is caused by chemical farming-related greenhouse gas emissions.
Vandana Shiva is an ardent opponent of plant biotechnology, opposing even research field trials and supporting act of economic sabotage to destroy GMOs in the laboratories or in the fields. In response to a 2013 call by former anti-GMO activist Mark Lynas asking environmentalists to end their opposition, Shiva responded: “Saying farmers should be free to grow GMOs which can contaminate organic farms is like saying rapists should have freedom to rape…” Some of Shiva’s anti-biotechnology arguments include the notion that Indian farmers who buy expensive GMO seeds on credit are at increased financial and suicide risk, that GM crops ‘toxify’ the food system by relying on herbicides and that marker genes for antibiotic resistance contribute to antibiotic resistance in farm animals and humans. She has called for the confiscation and destruction of food aid sent to victims of the 2000 cyclone in Orissa after she had it tested for GMOs. And she applauded Zambia’s decision to reject donations of famine food aid from the United States as it contained GMO corn. Claims:
- Farmers in India who buy expensive GMO seeds on credit are at increased financial risk and are disproportionately more likely to commit suicide in response to crop failures. So far, 200,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide, overcome by the insurmountable debt they’ve accumulated after switching from traditional, sustainable farming. (NOTE: The rates of farmer suicide after the introduction of GM cotton in India were the same as before the introduction of GM cotton.
- Terminator seeds are genetically modified to kill their own embryos, making them sterile at harvest. This means that if farmers save the seeds of these plants at harvest for future crops, the next generation of plants will not grow. Farmers would thus need to buy new seeds every year. After studying these seeds, molecular biologists warned of the possibility of terminator seeds spreading to surrounding food crops or to the natural environment—the gradual spread of sterility in seeding plants would result in a global catastrophe that could eventually wipe out higher life forms, including humans.
- GMOs cause the destruction of biodiversity, and the accelerates creation of monocultures and monopolies. India used to have 1,500 varieties of cotton. Today 95 per cent of cotton grown in India is Bt cotton
- Independent science is lacking.. Shiva claims, “We need real science and real sustainability not the pseudo science and pseudo sustainability being offered by corporations and scientists in service of corporations. Adopting the tools and paradigms of corporate science is to fall prey to corporate superstitions. We need to move beyond the Monocultures of the Mind and the crudeness of mechanistic reductionism on which the superstitions of the false solutions of genetic engineering are based…”
Shiva claims intellectual property rights (IPRs) laws and trade agreements like TRIPs at the WTO have “unleashed an epidemic of piracy of nature’s indigenous innovations…” Here first organized initiative against biopiracy was the 1994 Neem Campaign to protest patents using the Neem tree with the European Patent Office. She has has since initiated multiple legal battles against agricultural patents and related protests of IPR treaties. She promotes “Fair Trade” not free trade.
Shiva’s seed sovereignty campaign so far solely focuses on attempting to have Monsanto ousted from India and opposing any form of seed patents or reliance upon hybrids which force farmers to purchase seeds from companies rather than saving and sharing seeds communally.
As a sub-component of Vandana Shiva’s opposition to intellectual property rights in 1991 her Navdanya organization via the so-called Bija Satyagrapha movement has urged farmers to not cooperate with intellectual property rights laws involving patents on seed traits. Her campaigns have resulted in numerous annual marches by peasant farming and political groups, some of which have turned violent, following her claims that corporations like Monsanto are turning them into slaves.
Similar to Bija Satyagraha, Jaive Panchayat, called “the Living Democracy Movement’ was created to fight against the biopiracy and IPR monopolies on life forms. Jaiv Panchayat works with local villages to record their “biodiversity” so it may be protected against patents and used in litigation supported by Shiva against IPRs.
Right to Food
Shiva has lent her support to the PEOPLE’S CHARTER FOR FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY.
- Michael Specter writes in the New Yorker, “When [Vandana] 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.
Genetically modified crops will not solve the problem of the hundreds of millions of people who go to bed hungry every night. It would be far better if the world’s foods contained an adequate supply of vitamins. It would also help the people of many poverty-stricken countries if their governments were less corrupt. Working roads would do more to reduce nutritional deficits than any GMO possibly could, and so would a more equitable distribution of the Earth’s dwindling supply of freshwater. No single crop or approach to farming can possibly feed the world. To prevent billions of people from living in hunger, we will need to use every one of them.”
- According to Jon Entine of the Genetic Literacy Project, Vandana Shiva has “consistently lied about her credentials in more than 350 public appearances and in print”, claiming to have a PhD in physics when in fact it is in the philosophy of science. An entry on Beloit University’s website was changed from citing her as having a doctorate in “nuclear physics” to “philosophy” without explanation after Entine notified the university of its mistake. Shiva claims “I am a scientist… a quantum physicist”, which is untrue.
- In the same week that a horrific gang rape incident on a Delhi bus shocked the world, self-proclaimed ‘feminist’ Shiva demeaned abuse of women by comparing GMO farmers to rapists on Twitter. “#MarkLynas saying farmers shd be free to grow #GMOs which can contaminate #organic farms is like saying #rapists shd have freedom to rape” she tweeted, to widespread condemnation.
- “Upon reading it I was shocked at both the content and the scholarship. It was full of fallacies and creative interpretations of history—not to mention repetitive statements which inflated her message, but did little to fortify it against obvious criticisms. Most surprising though—and probably to the dismay of many western liberals—soon into the book it became evident that Shiva’s “ecofeminism” is a profoundly conservative, if not reactionary, ideology. Once you peel back the layers of her thought, you find that she is a vicious opponent of modernism, suspicious of enlightened humanism, a wily eco-mystic who has more in common with religious fanatics than the progressive activists who are her main audience.” Marco Rosaire Conrad-Rossi on The Eco-Philosophy of Vandana Shiva
- “For example, on the GMO issue, top influentials include Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Dr. Oz, and Vandana Shiva. Each of these influentials have been responsible for spreading or endorsing nonsense about GMOs via social media and other highly trafficked venues. Shiva travels around the world spreading the lie about farmers committing suicide because of GMOs and repeats the lie in prestige outlets like the Guardian. Because she is much admired in the environmental community, many take her word for it. Shiva is a charismatic speaker and a perceived champion (in green and social justice circles) for the downtrodden. She’s been a globe-trotting information broker for decades. If Shiva says GMO cotton has driven hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers to suicide–and says it over and over again–it must be true, right? Remember, environmentally inclined journalists and writers view her as a credible voice; they attach importance to what she says. They certainly don’t question any of her claims, though some will use her in a typically false balance manner. And yes, it’s because of her that a documentary based on an urban myth got made and then was publicized widely (at places like Huffington Post and Grist,) perpetuating the Indian farmer suicide/GMO myth.” Keith Kloor, Discover Magazine, September 2013.
- “Junk science” is perhaps the most common epithet hurled at Vandana Shiva who answers in turn with charges of “imperialist science.” Ronald Herring PhD, Cornell University.
- Shiva has been characterized by Canadian researcher Regina Cochrane as a “subsistence eco-feminist” who romanticizes poverty in a form of patronizing elitism to assuage liberal guilt while rejecting all forms of Western “development” which Shiva claims cause “spiritual poverty.” She instead supports indigenous subsistence economies. Cochrane further suggests Shiva is a city-dwelling elite who “is following the well-worn path of privileged ‘Third World scholars abroad’ who, upon graduating from metropolitan capitalist universities there – become the voice for Third World nationalism.”
- Shiva has been widely criticized not only for the simplistic nature of her analysis but also for her “lack of intellectual rigour”. Lewontin 83, for example, has complained that Shiva’s book Stolen Harvest is a ‘conjunction of religious morality, undeveloped assertions about the cultural implications of Indian farming, unexplained claims about the nature of the farm economy in India and how biotechnology destroys it, and unanalyzed or distorted scientiﬁc ﬁndings’.
- “Shiva’s sloppy scholarship may be considered de rigueur in the corporate world, but for a radical critic of the status quo it is highly troublesome to say the least. Unfortunately this is not a one-off complaint, and Cochrane further illustrates Shiva’s “lack of intellectual rigour” by citing Richard Lewontin’s cutting criticisms of her book Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply (South End Press, 2000). Furthermore, on a more fundamental level Tina Roy and Craig Borowiak take Shiva to task for “‘remaining willfully uncritical of the economic, social, and political cleavages within and across rural communities’ and of the continuities between her views and agrarian populism.”
- Shameful Shiva, by Anastasia Bodnar PhD, Biology Fortified, June 1, 2009.
- Shiva the destroyer, by Thomas DeGregori, Butterflies & Wheels, April 16, 2003. “Dr. Vandana Shiva is likely the world’s most celebrated holistic ecofeminist,deep ecologist, postmodernist luddite, anti-globalizer, and spokesperson for those she claims are without a voice. Because she has advanced degrees, Shiva is useful for providing legitimacy to a range of anti-science views on the part of those who mistrust scientific inquiry (except where they think that it will promote their ideological agenda). Contemporary ecofeminist literature is almost unreadable, particularly on the Green Revolution, which ecofeminists deem to be a failure, and on “organic” agriculture, which they favor. Being able to cite Shiva as a presumed authority allows them to talk about global agriculture without any substantive knowledge of how peoples around the world raise crops and feed their families. One wonders how many academics obtained tenure on the basis of books and articles for which Shiva was a major source.”
- Vandana Shiva: Fanatic or Fantasist?, by Robert Wilson, Carbon Counter, January 5, 2013. ” despite regularly flaunting her scientific credentials (she is forever calling herself a physicist despite only having an undergraduate degree in the subject) she does not seem capable of understanding the basics of sexual reproduction… The real issue however is whether Vandava Shiva is simply deluded, or actively malicious. In either case it is high time the environmental movement recognised that she is a deeply dangerous figure.”
- The Villainous Vandana Shiva a false environmental prophet, by Michael Fumento, National Review Online, August 27, 2002
- Demolishing the Myth that Monsanto drove Indian farmers to suicide, by Knight Science Journalism Center at MIT, March 11, 2013.
- Vandana Shiva compares GMOs to rape, by Keith Kloor, Discover Magazine, January 5, 2013.
- 2002 Bullshit Award for Sustaining Poverty, Liberty Institute, India, August 28, 2002. “”Millions of people rely on backbreaking labor and low-intensity subsistence farming, not out of choice but out of necessity, yet Ms. Shiva claims that modern agricultural technologies are too dangerous for the poor. But given the choice, poor rural farmers seize the opportunity to use modern technologies to improve their agricultural productivity. Ultimately, it is farmers who should make the choice over what technologies they use, not eco-imperialists such as Shiva.”
- Profile of Shiva by Jon Entine and Cami Ryan in Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/01/29/vandana-shiva-anti-gmo-celebrity-eco-goddess-or-dangerous-fabulist/
- “Vandana Shiva is an elitist, anti-progress menace and not the progressive shining light her admirers think she is. Her way of thinking won’t help the poor of the w0rld. It will only keep them at a subsistence level and more importantly, in their place.” (Vandana Shiva: Brahmin in Shudra clothing)
Vandana Shiva was raised a wealthy Brahmin in Dehradun, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Her father was a forestry official for the Indian government; her mother worked as a school inspector in Lahore, and, after Partition, when the city became part of Pakistan, she returned to India. In the nineteen-seventies, Shiva joined a women’s movement that was determined to prevent outside logging companies from cutting down forests in the highlands of northern India. Their tactic was simple and, ultimately, successful: they would form a circle and hug the trees. Shiva was, literally, one of the early tree huggers. Her personal website, VandanaShiva.org is registered to “Wisdom Keepers” in Santa Barbara California: * Domain ID:D153607237-LROR
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Shiva has at least one child, Karikey Shiva, who attended Lewis and Clark University in Oregon (Class of 2003) and who is frequently credited in Shiva materials for his photography of her work and travels.
- 1981, Social Economic and Ecological Impact of Social Forestry in Kolar, Vandana Shiva, H.C. Sharatchandra, J. Banyopadhyay, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore
- 1986, Chipko movement: Indias Civilisational Response to the Forest Crisis”, J. Bandopadhyay and Vandana Shiva, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. Pub. by INTACH
- 1987, The Chipko Movement Against Limestone Quarrying in Doon Valley, J. Bandopadhyay and Vandana Shiva, Lokayan Bulletin, 5 : 3, 1987, pp. 19–25 online
- 1988, Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Survival in India, Zed Press, New Delhi, ISBN 0-86232-823-3
- 1991, Ecology and the Politics of Survival: Conflicts Over Natural Resources in India, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California, ISBN 0-8039-9672-1
- 1992, The Violence of the Green Revolution: Ecological degradation and political conflict in Punjab, Zed Press, New Delhi
- 1992, Biodiversity: Social and Ecological Perspectives (editor); Zed Press, United Kingdom
- 1993, Women, Ecology and Health: Rebuilding Connections (editor), Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and Kali for Women, New Delhi
- 1993, Monocultures of the Mind: Biodiversity, Biotechnology and Agriculture, Zed Press, New Delhi
- 1993, Ecofeminism, Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, Fernwood Publications, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, ISBN 1-895686-28-8
- 1994, Close to Home: Women Reconnect Ecology, Health and Development Worldwide, Earthscan, London, ISBN 0-86571-264-6
- 1995, Biopolitics (with Ingunn Moser), Zed Books, United Kingdom
- 1997, Biopiracy: the Plunder of Nature and Knowledge, South End Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, I ISBN 1-896357-11-3
- 2000, Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply, South End Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, ISBN 0-89608-608-9
- 2000, Tomorrows Biodiversity”, Thames and Hudson, London, ISBN 0-500-28239-0
- 2000, “Seeds of Suicide: The Ecological and Human Costs of the Globalization of Agriculture”, Zed Books, London, ISBN 13: 9781842771266
- 2001, Patents, Myths and Reality, Penguin India
- 2002, Water Wars; Privatization, Pollution, and Profit, South End Press, Cambridge Massachusetts
- 2005, India Divided, Seven Stories Press,
- 2005, Globalizations New Wars: Seed, Water and Life Forms” Women Unlimited, New Delhi, ISBN 81-88965-17-0
- 2005, Earth Democracy; Justice, Sustainability, and Peace, South End Press, ISBN 0-89608-745-X
- 2007, Manifestos on the Future of Food and Seed, editor, South End Press ISBN 978-0-89608-777-4
- 2007, Democratizing Biology: Reinventing Biology from a Feminist, Ecological and Third World Perspective, author, Paradigm Publishers ISBN 978-1-59451-204-9
- 2008, Soil Not Oil, South End Press ISBN 978-0-89608-782-8
- 2010, Staying Alive, South End Press ISBN 978-0-89608-793-4
- 2013, Making Peace With The Earth Pluto Press ISBN 978-0-7453-33762
- UNDATED Globalization Food Security & War Ledikason Pu Travayer ISBN 978-9990333411