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; vandanashiva.com (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
- New Yorker editor David Remnick responds to Vandana Shiva criticism of Michael Specter’s profile David Remnick; New Yorker; 2 Sep 2014
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.
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.” 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. 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.
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 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 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.
2020 US Universities tour
Scientists write to US universities for inviting ‘anti-science’ activist Vandana Shiva Sandhya Ramesh; The Print; 17 Jan 2020
The open letters to Stanford and University of California raise concern about Vandana Shiva's use of 'anti-scientific rhetoric to support unethical positions'.
Scientists and biotechnology experts from around the world have written two open letters to the Stanford University and the University of California-Santa Cruz (UC-SC) protesting invitations extended to Indian anti-biotechnology activist Vandana Shiva to speak on “equitable and sustainable” farming methods.
The letters raise concern about Shiva’s “constant use of anti-scientific rhetoric to support unethical positions”. They also lay out some of her earlier positions on farming and comments which the experts believe are factually incorrect.
Shiva is a prominent proponent of land redistribution and farmers’ rights, besides Ayurveda and organic foods. She has been accused of being funded by organic food companies to speak out against conventional agriculture practices.
Known as one of the staunchest critics of genetically modified organisms (GMO), she claims them to be “toxic” for human consumption — a stance that has attracted strong criticism from the scientific community.
Shiva has also been profiled by The New Yorker in an article titled ‘Seeds of Doubt‘ by Michael Specter. The piece is an attempt too debunk her claims.
ThePrint tried to get in touch with Shiva and both the universities via emails. This report will be updated if and when replies are received.
‘Shiva’s unscientific, anti-social ideas’
Calling Shiva’s philosophy “unscientific and anti-social”, the letter addressed to Stanford cites some “ironies” associated with Shiva being invited by the institution.
“The first concerns Shiva’s invitation having come from Students for a Sustainable Stanford, because her views are demonstrably, unequivocally anti-sustainable. Her ideas on farming would relegate it to a primitive, low-yielding, wasteful activity.”
It goes on to read: “Second, the co-discoverer in 1973 of recombinant DNA technology, the prototypic, iconic molecular technique for genetic engineering, was Stanford biochemist Dr. Stanley N. Cohen, who is still a professor of genetics and medicine at the university. Shiva’s appearance at Stanford is an affront to Professor Cohen and all of the university’s other scientists.”
The letter also accuses Shiva of taking “large honoraria for dispensing her mendacious and antisocial opinion”.
‘Shiva’s stunning ignorance’
The one addressed to UC-SC similarly expresses surprise that a “science-based and ethically inspired institution” has extended an invitation to her.
Read the full text of the letter to UC-SC below:
“Dear Organizers and Professors,
We are scholars of life sciences and social sciences who have published many scholarly papers and articles about agriculture, food and related biotechnologies.
Perhaps you are unaware of Dr. Vandana Shiva’s constant use of anti-scientific rhetoric to support unethical positions. We are very surprised that any science-based and ethically inspired institution would invite her to speak.
Here are some (only some) examples of her prejudicial, anti-science, anti-social stances:
Her astonishing tendency to nonsense. See the absurd statement regarding the supposed functioning of the Genetic Use Restriction technology (GURT), from her book Stolen Harvest (p. 82-83):
“Molecular biologists are examining the risk of the Terminator function escaping the genome of the crops into which it has been intentionally incorporated, and moving into surrounding open-pollinated crops or wild, related plants in fields nearby. Given Nature’s incredible adaptability and the fact that the technology has never been tested on a large scale, the possibility that the Terminator may spread to surrounding food crops or to the natural environment MUST be taken seriously. 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.”
One may need to read these statements twice, because they are too bewildering to be understood at first sight. In fact, she claims that sterile seeds – which of course cannot germinate – can spread sterility. A middle school student expressing such views would fail the biology exam.
Her stunning ignorance: “Most #GMOs are #Bt toxin or #HT herbicide tolerant crops. Toxins are poisons. GMOs=Poison Producing Plants. Poisons have no place in food.”
Somebody should explain to her that Bt proteins are toxic to some clearly identified classes of insects (plant pests), but not to fish, birds, mammals. See also the scientific papers quoted in response to her delusional post, in particular, a “classic” study which clarifies that plants naturally produce substances to defend themselves from pests and 99.99% of pesticidal substances in food are natural – and harmless to humans.
Her proclivity to offend: “Saying farmers should be free to grow GMOs which can contaminate organic farms is like saying rapists should have freedom to rape”. She is comparing farmers, who grow crops which are scientifically and legally recognized as safe, to rapists! It’s a grotesque insult to millions of honest workers who use modern technologies to farm sustainably and efficiently. Understandably, her outrageous abuse raised many angry reactions (see the replies to the same post).
Her rejection of technologies which help farmers (mostly women and children) to alleviate the painful, back-breaking labor of hand-weeding: “Indian women selectively do weeding by hand, hereby preserving our biodiversity” (Photo and caption at p. 21.) This is a preposterous statement; any act of weeding is exactly aimed at eliminating detrimental plant “biodiversity” which, in a field, stifles crops.
As a final treat, a ridiculous statement: “Fertilizer should never have been allowed in agriculture,” she said in a 2011 speech. “I think it’s time to ban it. It’s a weapon of mass destruction. Its use is like war, because it came from war.” Let us ask her if she is going to ban metallurgy, since it has been used to forge cannons.
We are confident that our reasoned remarks will be seen by the addressees of this letter, by their colleagues and by students at UCSC as constructive criticism. We are afraid that none of us will be able to attend the event to challenge Dr. Shiva in person. We would appreciate if you can make our letter available to the participants.”
Viewpoint: Fact-checking anti-GMO activist Vandana Shiva’s ‘Poison-Free, Fossil-Free’ food lecture Alison Van Eenennaam ; Genetic Literacy Project; 10 Feb 2020
Poison-free, fossil-free California agriculture (1 of 3) Alvane; Biobeef blog; 3 Feb 2020
In late January, 2020 I attended two events at UC Santa Cruz, a sister campus to UC Davis, and also where my tuition fees go to pay for the (presumably fact-based) education of my “banana slug” son who is a senior there. It was therefore with some concern that I read that Vandana Shiva had been invited to speak on campus. Dr. Shiva has been a polarizing figure in the genetically modified (GMO) foods discussion, as detailed by Michael Specter. But I personally had never heard her speak, and as a scientist and someone who is trying to understand why the GMO debate has become so polarized, I decided to sign up and listen closely to what Dr. Shiva had to say, both at her Saturday evening lecture, “Vandana Shiva In Conversation”, and the following all day event entitled “Poison-Free, Fossil-Free Food and Farming.”
The Saturday night lecture, to a very receptive and supportive crowd, conversed on a range of topics, from empowering women farmers to the importance of nutritious food, the impact of climate change on food production systems, and the importance of seed banks. Hard to find fault with any of those topics, in fact I agreed with Dr. Shiva on a number of her points. There was a lot of disparaging of “industry” and billionaires, especially Bill Gates despite his philanthropy, and much demonization of globalization and colonization.
As an agricultural scientist, I took issue with the lack of evidence to support some of the overly optimistic anecdotes that were given regarding the productivity of different organic and agroecological production systems, because if they really were so much superior it makes little sense as to why ALL farmers, as astute business owners, would not rapidly employ such production systems. Perhaps it is more complicated than was suggested.
The contention that organic production systems outcompete conventional systems is not supported by the weight-of-evidence in the peer-reviewed literature, and is one of the reasons that less than 1% of US farmland is under organic production. But it was when discussing anything related to GMOs, Monsanto, patents and especially glyphosate (Round-up) that things (perhaps as might be expected) went totally off the rails. I will get into a couple of the specifics of that for those who are interested in fact-checking in part 2 (Sponsoring Falsehood) and part 3 (Rounding Up Fear) of this series.
Sponsoring Falsehood (2 of 3) Biobeef blog; 3 Feb 2020
Do public Universities have an obligation to present evidence-based information? Does freedom of speech extend to sponsoring speakers who spread misinformation and fear? These are important questions to ask in the current climate, and the answers must be true for all polarizing speech – irrespective of which side of the political spectrum it may fall.
As someone who works in agricultural science, and is passionate about evidence-based policy, I attended a two-day event at UC Santa Cruz featuring Dr. Vandana Shiva in late January 2020. She was doing a speaking circuit around California Universities, and had preceded the visit to Santa Cruz with a visit to Stanford. Her visits were not without controversy. I attended the session at Santa Cruz to see for myself what all the fuss was about as detailed in Part One of this BLOG (Poison-free, fossil-free California agriculture) , and had some concerns regarding the factual basis of some of the claims made by Dr. Shiva.
One of the statements that Dr. Shiva made at the Sunday session entitled “Poison-Free, Fossil-Free Food & Farming” workshop was that citrus greening disease was not affecting organically-grown citrus plants. This plant disease kills citrus trees and has devastated the Florida citrus industry. It is carried by the Asian citrus psyllid which feeds on citrus leaves and stems.
This insect infects citrus trees with a bacteria that causes citrus greening disease also called Huanglongbing (HLB). HLB has been confirmed in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and US Virgin Islands.
The best way to protect citrus trees from HLB is to stop the Asian citrus psyllid, and this often involves spraying with synthetic insecticides which are not in compliance with organic standards. Once a tree is infected with HLB, it will die. Diseased trees need to be removed in order to protect other citrus trees on the property, neighbors’ trees and the community’s citrus. One hope is perhaps a genetically engineered disease-resistant tree will one day provide a solution to this problem.
However, Dr. Shiva claimed that “Soils rich in soil organisms are giving immunity to the plant. And even with the citrus failure, trees organically grown actually don’t get the disease” and she followed on to suggest that conventional trees get citrus greening disease because they are weak. Evidence please?
So do organic production methods protect citrus plants from citrus greening disease?
No. According to the organic center who have developed a helpful “Organic grower’s guide for combatting citrus greening disease, “Organic citrus producers have suffered terrible losses from citrus greening, and they need to be aware of organic solutions to ward off this disease,” said Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center. “Conventional and organic farmers alike have had their groves decimated by citrus greening,” she said. “While our report provides tools for them, to help them in their struggle, without more research we’ll continue to see a dramatic decline in citrus production – especially organic citrus.”
During the Sunday workshop, Dr. Shiva stated that “I am not an agricultural scientist. I am not a toxicologist. I am just in deep love with the Earth.” This was met with approving nods and applause by the Santa Cruz audience. By setting up this dichotomous framing – that scientists with a deep understanding of agriculture and toxicology are somehow not in love with the Earth, her message seemed be to distrust expertise and science, and rather side with people who profess “a deep love of the Earth”. My land grant colleagues spend careers trying to use science to develop approaches to decrease the environmental impact of agriculture to help both the earth and humanity. If agricultural scientists and public sector toxicologists are the enemy to be despised or ignored, then I fear for the future of food production.
Students from Stanford University invited Dr. Shiva to speak at that University the Thursday (1/23/2020) prior to her appearance at Santa Cruz . Following the controversy regarding that event, the student group “Students for a Sustainable Stanford” (SSS) wrote in their campus newspaper:
- “We recognize that Dr. Shiva has made many incendiary statements in her career. Some of them are untrue. For example, she has argued that farmer suicides in India have doubled since the introduction of Bt cotton, and that GMOs are unsafe to consume. She referenced these points during the lecture. These stances are not supported by the scientific literature, and our organization does not endorse them. Do these statements delegitimize Dr. Shiva’s entire platform? Should she be denied the microphone because some of her statements have been disproven?” No. SSS believes that we can invite a controversial speaker to campus and provide a platform for her insights on environmental justice and community-based activism, without sponsoring every statement she makes.” (emphasis added)
That argument is interesting, as it suggests that speakers on campus should not be required/expected to present 100% factual information. Rather, it excuses the misinformation that it is well-known the paid speaker will present as “not sponsored”. But I question how does the audience, mostly with little agricultural background or expertise, discern which parts of the talk are “unsponsored untruths”, and which parts are “sponsored insights on environmental justice and community-based activism”? Could a similar argument be made that Dr. Andrew Wakefield should be invited to discuss his discredited contention that vaccines cause autism? I am reminded of the old adage, ‘You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.’ I wonder, does sponsoring a speaker known to spread misinformation on university campuses serve the public good?
As an educator, I have a pretty simple expectation for speakers on university campuses, irrespective of their subject matter area. And that is they should not intentionally mislead people with anecdotes that are not supported by the scientific literature, or spread misinformation that they know to be false. And if I suspect this might be a problem, I would pair them with a public sector subject matter expert who could challenge any unsupported statements with evidence. That does not seem like a very high bar to me. And in my opinion, when it comes to encouraging community-based activism around shifting agricultural production practices in the face of climate change, that expectation for evidence is doubled because of the dramatic real world implications of ill-advised shifts based on incorrect information.
Rounding Up Fear (3 of 3) Alvane; Biobeef blog; 3 Feb 2020
Finally, during the course of the January 2020 two-day event featuring Dr. Vandana Shiva at UC Santa Cruz, there was the nonstop attack on glyphosate (and by association Monsanto, and therefore Bayer). The California glyphosate law suits were of course mentioned, along with the 2015 IARC hazard classification of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Perhaps predictably, there was no mention of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) RISK determination which reaffirmed glyphosate as safe to use and non-carcinogenic, the 2018 pesticide applicator study which found no apparent association between glyphosate and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies overall, or the response of potentially affected farmers to looming glyphosate bans in other countries such as France and Germany.
Dr. Shiva alluded to the 2014 Sri Lankan paper that proposed an untested hypothesis that glyphosate was responsible for chronic kidney disease of undetermined causes (CKDu). CKDu disease has emerged as a major illness among workers in hot climates. In that paper the authors posited that glyphosate “may destroy the renal tissues of farmers by forming complexes with a localized geo-environmental factor (hardness) and nephrotoxic metals”. This paper was particularly highlighted by Dr. Shiva, in part because the authors were awarded the 2019 AAAS Scientific Freedom and Responsibility award for proposing a hypothesis that there was “a possible connection between glyphosate and chronic kidney disease.” A more recent systematic 2018 review and meta-analysis of data collected to actual test that hypothesis “found little evidence that pesticides were the main cause of CKDu in Central America” was (again unsurprisingly) not mentioned. However, this Sri Lankan example provides an interesting case study of what eliminating that herbicide meant for one country.
Owing to social pressure created by the 2014 untested hypothesis paper, the Sri Lankan government banned glyphosate in 2015. The consequences of that decision on smallholder farmers, income disparity, woman farm workers, erosion, and public health, are outlined below. They provide a cautionary tale of what happens when unsupported hunches, rather than objective evidence, drive agricultural policy as detailed in this 2018 report “Impacts of Banning Glyphosate on Agriculture Sector in Sri Lanka; A Field Evaluation” by LM Abeywickrama et al. from the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka. Ironically, many of the outcomes that resulted from this ban were the opposite of the values that were repeatedly voiced by the audience attending the UC Santa Cruz Vandana Shiva event.
“The ban has imposed significant economic costs on growers of all operation sizes – but smallholders have been most negatively affected. Over 94% of smallholder corn farmers reported a reduction in family income, while over 86% farmer in corn have reported that family income has reduced and cost of production has increased. Over 40% of tea farmers reported a reduction in family income, while increased weed prevalence has reduced yields for over 40% of corn farmers. There has been a decline of 11% in tea production during year 2016 compared with year 2015.” Around 52 percent of tea workers are women who are among the poorest paid in the country.
“Food production in agricultural areas has reduced and the income of the farmers with limited resources has also reduced. Therefore, food security of the rural farmers has been challenged. Also, the disparity of the income between resource-rich and resource-poor farmers has widened. Rich farmers have the capacity to face the consequences of the banning glyphosate since they have tractors while the poor farmers have to face the increased rate of hiring charges of tractors and increased prices of available illicit herbicides. Migration of rural youth from the rural areas to the urban centers due to increased costs of cultivation has created labour scarcity in agricultural areas which leads to negligence of productive lands.
Increased use of tractors in sloping lands of Monaragala and Anuradhapura districts in maize and field crop cultivation in Maha season, had led to severe soil erosion. About 80% of the farmers verified that the erosion has drastically increased with the use of tractors in the absence of suitable herbicide. Further, mechanization because of absence of glyphosate has also affected farming under drip irrigation as mechanical weeding damages the irrigation pipes and system.
The study also showed that Kalanduru, a difficult weed to control in the absence of glyphosate, has become a threat in Chili fields. Due to enhanced weed pressure, in crops that need intensive care such as chili, farmers cultivate only manageable portion of their land abandoning the rest creating a suitable ecosystem for of pigs and snakes to survive and reproduce, leading to challenging public health scenarios.”
The Sri Lankan government ultimately reversed the ban against glyphosate on July 11, 2018. According to an article in The Sunday Times, “In the absence of an effective alternative weedicide, however, the tea industry in particular was severely hit, with plantations becoming plagued by weeds, and resulting in a drastic drop in production.” A senior research officer at the Sri Lankan Office of the Registrar of Pesticides Lasanatha Ratnaweera said the ban was clearly a political decision. He pointed out that his department had nothing to do with the decision.
- “Decisions on modern technologies in agriculture should be based on the scientific research findings published by the scientists in the relevant field. Agriculture chemicals have played a critical role in crop production and this study has shown the impact of glyphosate ban on crop production in Sri Lanka. Following glyphosate ban, the cost of production of maize and tea has increased, the yields are impacted, the farm income has reduced, and illicit chemicals are proliferating in the market.”
- Dr. L. M. Abeywickrama, Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka