Farming Free: An Interview With Food Sovereignty Activist Vandana Shiva

A global food sovereignty activist speaks out about GMOs, seed freedom and the misconduct of industrial agriculture.

| June/July 2014

  • Threshing grain by hand takes time but no external fuels or machines, in the tradition of sustainable agriculture.
    Photo by First Light/FLPA
  • Vandana Shiva is a leading global advocate for food sovereignty, sustainable agriculture and biological diversity.
    Photo by Kartikey Shiva
  • Indigenous tribal women collecting dry leaves and wood for heating and cooking.
    Photo by Dreamstime/Samrat35

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are constantly in the news these days. Scientists debate the safety of engineered foodstuffs, consumer advocates demand GMO labeling, and farmers and gardeners decry the emergence of corporate seed monopolies that limit what we can do in our own dirt. It is with this food sovereignty controversy in mind that we recently spoke with veteran anti-globalization campaigner Vandana Shiva.

Vandana Shiva is the founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology and the Navdanya organic seed network. She is a pre-eminent advocate for the preservation of food sovereignty, civil liberties and biological diversity. The author of almost 30 books, she also initiated the global Seed Freedom movement to organize events and celebrate seed defenders (learn more at Seed Freedom). Shiva began her journey by defending oak forests with the Chipko movement in northern India. Chipko — meaning “hug” in Hindi — was a 1970s campaign to protect villagers’ rights against corporate and government intrusion, specifically the stripping of local forests sanctioned by the Uttarakhand state forest department. Shiva has followed her calling to protect natural resources and indigenous agrarian traditions to this day, albeit on a grander scale.

MOTHER EARTH NEWS interviewed Shiva to discuss the importance of food policy and how it affects what’s on your plate and what’s in your garden.

MOTHER: Genetically modified (GM) crops are promoted as essential for an ever-growing population. How do you respond?

Vandana Shiva: Genetic engineering hasn’t demonstrated increased yields as promised by biotechnology corporations. (See the report Failure to Yield from the Union of Concerned Scientists.)

MOTHER: Despite this, GM crops account for more than 80 percent of North American crop acreage. Why did farmers adopt this controversial technology?

4/24/2015 8:22:21 PM

It's really hard to consider Vandana Shiva's claims to be credible after reading this article from The New Yorker:

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