Vandana Shiva

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Wikipedia article and Criticism section

Seeds of Doubt: Vandana Shiva’s Crusade Against Genetically Modified Crops Michael Specter; New Yorker; 25 Aug 2014

Lengthy examination of Shiva's background and claims she makes.
SEEDS OF TRUTH – A RESPONSE TO THE NEW YORKER Vandana Shiva; (via Internet Archive wayback machine); 26 Aug 2014
Shiva response to New Yorker article
New Yorker editor David Remnick responds to Vandana Shiva criticism of Michael Specter’s profile David Remnick; New Yorker; 2 Sep 2014
New Yorker counter-response to Shiva

Dedicated Thread: Vandana Shiva and Farmer Suicides In India GMO Skepti-Forum; facebook

Vandana Shiva: ‘Rock Star’ of GMO protest movement has anti-science history Genetic Literacy Project; July 17, 2018

Vandana Shiva (born 1952) is an anti-globalization, anti-corporate, deep ecology and radical eco-feminist activist whose campaigns focus primarily on food and agriculture socio-economic issues and an opposition to GMOs, free trade and intellectual property rights. She 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.[1]
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 a comparatively wealthy lifestyle) with the statement, “Resource scarcity is not that bad for it renews ones commitment to human quality.”[2] And that poverty is a culturally perceived bias against indigenous rights to subsistence by Western elites.[3]
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.[4] Her claim that there was “no hunger” in India prior to the Green Revolution (typically dated in the late 1960’s-1970’s) does not jive with the facts. The Green Revolution in India started in the late 1960s and with its success the country attained food self-sufficiency within a decade. It was focused mostly on wheat production and in the Punjab region. The second wave of the Green Revolution, beginning in the 1980s, involved almost all the crops including rice and covered the whole country, raising farmer incomes and alleviating rural poverty substantially.
Shiva also ignores the fact that famines in India had resulted in more than 60 million deaths over the course of the 18th, 19th and first half of the 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 Bengal’s 60.3 million population during this famine). The response to 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 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.[5]
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[6], 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.[7]
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”[8] 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.”[9]
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 organizations, 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[10] 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 Shiva’s claims; however, they cite numerous locations and facilities. She serves on the National Board of Organic Standards for India.

Who is Vandana Shiva and why is she saying such awful things about GMOs? Genetic Literacy Project; 23 Aug 2014

Vandana Shiva is a prominent Indian-born environmentalist who, for the past decade, has emerged as an international icon in the movement criticizing conventional agriculture and biotechnology. In the most recent sign of her celebrity status, in January, Beloit College in Wisconsin conferred on her a prestigious honor as the Weissberg Chair in International Studies, calling her a “one-woman movement for peace, sustainability and social justice.”
Whether that accurately describes Shiva is debatable—there appears to be a sizable gap between her self-representations and the subjects she claims to be an expert on. However her status as a celebrity activist is not in question. Shiva’s unbridled opposition to GMOs has made her a favorite in liberal and environmental circles. She hopscotches the globe, making frequent appearances at anti-GMO rallies, on college campuses and on lecture tours, such as in in Costa Rica earlier this year.
Shiva has been referred to as a an “eco warrior goddess” by the e-Zine Punk Rock Permaculture, a “rock star in the global battle over genetically modified seeds” by journalist Bill Moyers and a “global sustainability expert” by the University of Kentucky. Time Magazine called her an “environmental hero” in 2003 and Forbes identified her as one of the Seven Most Powerful Feminists on the Globe in 2010. She has more than 23,000 followers on Twitter and 43,000 on Facebook.
Shiva is perhaps best known for claiming that the introduction of genetically modified cotton seeds in India has led to mass genocide by poor farmers seduced by the ‘false promise’ of GMOs.

Article also printed in Forbes:

Vandana Shiva, Anti-GMO Celebrity: 'Eco Goddess' Or Dangerous Fabulist? Jon Entine; Forbes; 29 Jan 2014

Examines's Shiva's scientific credentials and her claims, including that Indian farmer suicides result from introduction of GMOs, that the Green Revolution was a "failure", and that Golden Rice is a "hoax"

The Rich Allure of a Peasant Champion Keith Kloor; Discover magazine; 23 Oct 2014

interesting discussion in comments

Vandana Shiva Achieves Amazing Feat Of Appropriating Her Own Culture Kavin Senapathy; Forbes, 3 Nov 2015

To me, an Indian-American daughter of immigrants, Shiva’s appropriation of her own culture is among the most obscene, offensive tactics in the activist’s repertoire. She reeks of “more Indian than thou”, which colors her mannerisms and shapes her messaging, effectively endowing her with a je ne sais quoi, leaving many non-Indian westerners accepting her without question as the voice of the Indian David against the Big Bad Biotech Goliath, while others presumably refrain from doubting her seeming authority for fear of appearing racist. A clever tactic, indeed.