Vandana Shiva: ‘Ambassador of famine’?


Vandana Shiva positions herself as a seer who, as a lecturer and adviser on the ‘agriculture of the future’, manages to reap millions of dollars from American universities, Italian regional authorities, and those countless fans ready to snap up what ever she puts before them.

Her most recent “triumph” was the official opening of the International Show of Organic Agriculture in Bologna, Italy on September 7, an event widely covered in the national press. Even a cursory glance at those accounts of her enthusiastic reception gives one some insight into the reason for her success: other people’s willingness not to insist upon hard truths. This can be the only possible explanation for the fact that Italy, once home to the most prodigious advances in Western science, is now welcoming with open arms the spokesperson for a Brahminic doctrine which, in its own homeland, has forced millions of peasant farmers to adopt primitive agricultural practices that result in them falling victim to famine, disease and usury.

The heterogeneous source material we use in writing history can be assessed comparatively – striving for the most balanced reading – or it can be used in a more selective fashion, in order to support pre-defined ideas, creeds or political beliefs. There is no doubt that the ambassador of New Brahmanism falls into the second category in her use of historical sources. Nonetheless, her theories still maintain their hold over enthusiastic disciples, who appear unable to see that those ideas lead to famine.

True, one could point out that India has been subject to famine for centuries. When, in the year 1001CE, Muhmad, Lord of Ghazni, swept through the passes of the Indian Kush to punish and enslave a people of idolaters, he laid the foundations of a Moghul dominion over the subcontinent that would be almost unique in its combination of avidity, cruelty and corruption – exemplified by such figures as Shah Jahan and Aurangheb, the most powerful in a succession of despots. In order to amass the funds needed to build the largest mosques in the East – and to fund the massive armies that were to attempt the conquest of the entire continent – those great Moghuls forced Indian peasants into a endless state of famine; and any who rebelled again this state of affairs were crushed – literally (beneath the feet of imperial elephants).

Later, famine in the name of the Prophet was replaced by famine in the name of Her Britannic Majesty. When, using methods that were practically indistinguishable from piracy, the first English merchant-adventurers seized rich cities on the coasts of India, Great Britain itself was the centre of world advances in agriculture (progress that provided the nation’s navy with the high-quality salted beef that was almost as necessary for its marauding enterprises as gunpowder and cannon). However, the vice-regents that subsequently ruled the subcontinent in the name of Queen Victoria would do absolutely nothing to encourage progress in Indian agriculture. They themselves were British aristocrats, owners of the best-farmed estates in the world – yet though they had first-hand knowledge of modern agronomy, their activities in India were inspired by a different logic. There were strict orders from London that it was opium they should be producing.

The flourishing opium trade with China was something that the British had inherited from India’s Moghul rulers. However, China itself was taking steps to prohibit a commerce that drained its silver resources and stultified wide sections of its population. Acting upon that ban, a zealous imperial official had a cargo of the drug burnt at Canton harbour, little thinking that this slight to the property of Her Majesty would unleash all the jingoistic fury of the then foreign minster, Lord Palmerston. With his usual flair for playing to the gallery, he sent an admiral of proven ruthlessness – Lord Elgin – to bombard the city westerners then referred to as Peking; the massacre of civilians would, it was supposed, quickly oblige the emperor to sign a treaty that required his country to acquire astronomical quantities of opium. (Jack Beeching, The Chinese Opium Wars, 1975) This duly happened, and by force of arms Queen Victoria became the greatest drug trafficker in history.

With the practicality for which they are much appreciated, the British were also quick to see the advantages on maintaining within India the caste system that had served the Moghuls so well as they plundered the country’s resources. In the countryside this meant a clear distinction between the rayat, peasants who enjoyed no property rights at all, and zimandar, land agents working for the aristocracy. The latter squeezed every last drop of blood from the former in striving to obtain the highest possible production of opium for China, cotton for the mills of Manchester and tea for the sitting-rooms of the entire British Isles (Deepak Kumar, Science in Agriculture. A study in Victorian India, in Science and Technology in Indian Culture,1984); the starving peasants were even forced to load cargoes of wheat onto ships bound for London and Bristol. It can be no surprise, therefore, that the advent of independence raised the possibility of massive famine: India’s entire agriculture had previously be geared to production for export, with peasants being allowed solely a tiny plot of land to grow the rice that fed their family.

That fearful possibility was avoided thanks to the actions of a woman: Indira Gandhi. Whilst Parliament quibbled over ethical, religious and philosophical reasons for banning the introduction of western agricultural technology (which the British had been careful not to make widely available in the country), she invited the future Nobel-winner Norman Borlaug to visit the country. When he explained that wheats developed to defeat famine in Mexico could produce 3-4 times more than those traditionally planted by Hindu farmers, Gandhi pushed aside opposition from Parliament and ordered her minister for agriculture, Mr Subramaniam, to purchase western seeds created in Mexico. It was the gift of the U.S.A.’s remaining war stocks that averted the potential catastrophe which loomed as a result of the rainless monsoon season of 1965. But over the next two years – almost equally poor in rainfall – the Borlaug seeds would be prodigiously successful: during the third harvest after their introduction the school year had to be cut short because farmers simply had nowhere to store the abundant crop and needed to use village classrooms as granaries (Antonio Saltini, Storia delle scienze agrarie, vol. VII, pagg. 594-607)

Since then the Indian population has increased fourfold, and – whatever ingenious arguments might say to the contrary – the reason why millions of people have been spared famine is the introduction of those Borlaug wheats and the rice varieties that were developed, using his selection procedures, at Los Baños in the Philippines (varieties that have now spread throughout Asia and tripled or quadrupled production in favourable conditions).

Given these phenomenal agricultural achievements in the subcontinent – with a prodigious increase in daily calorie intake – it is sad to note that various sources suggest that the rate of agronomical advance in India has slowed. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, it was the neo-Brahmins who took power, re-asserting their ancient prestige and violently opposing the use of western science in agriculture. Paradoxically, a country that was happy to obtain the atomic bomb and ballistic missiles is now turning its back on advances within the science which made it possible for India to increase its population without falling victim to famine on a biblical scale.

The further irony is that whilst it was a woman who, with the courage of a lioness, forced her country to accept the western science which would enable it to feed its people, it is another woman – champion of a neo-Brahmanism that is inherently hostile to western science – who is now greeted in the West as the prophet of a new relationship between humankind and the land which provides our food. But what such hosannas fail to note is that this “new relationship” is predicated on the tradition which was set aside by Indira Gandhi herself – a relationship which for a thousand years forced hundreds of millions of Indian rayat to live under the perpetual threat of famine.

When assessing the political ideals of these two women one cannot ignore the fact that, though millennia of human history have seen the emergence of a number of philosophies and “sciences”, none of these has resulted in technological applications comparable to those generated by the “experimental method” championed more than four centuries ago by the likes of Bacon and Galileo. And if there is no denying that it is technology and science which for three centuries have allowed the West to impose its, often arrogant, will upon the rest of the world, it is also true that this same science generated agricultural methods that resulted in a threefold increase in food production over the period 1950-2000, thus making it possible to feed a population that had doubled in just 45 years (as well as provide the medicines that have prolonged life expectancy, even amongst the poorest).

Egyptian, Indian or Chinese science never achieved anything comparable; indeed, for millennia, the relation between population numbers and agricultural resources in both India and China was subject to intermittent “readjustment” through famine after long periods of plenty. This was the truth which was grasped by Indira Gandhi, but which India’s new ambassador for famine is now trying to conceal, with arguments unbefitting someone who professes a training in the science she critics (however, see footnote).

One might conclude this brief history of Indian famine – recalled in response to the Bolognese triumph of the champion of Neo-Brahmanism – by mentioning two unfortunate “firsts” for India. One regards the complete subjection of the rayat to zimandar. A system with deep historical roots that was then consolidated by Moghul emperors and finally set in stone (or, at least, legislation) by British vice-regents, this leads to tens of thousands of suicides every year, when usurers exert their rights and seize the property of peasant farmers, who are thus turned out into the streets as beggars.

The other “first” which is no boast for India is the pervasive presence of tuberculosis in its rural areas, with no health campaigns being launched to contain the disease. Even Mussolini, when informed that malnourishment meant that an entire household inevitably caught TB when just one family member became infected, quickly instituted a system of isolation for patients. True, his concern was inspired by the desire to protect the warrior blood of Italy, but it did restrict the spread of a disease for which there were no viable antidotes.

There is, therefore, something disturbing about the fact that Vandana Shiva enjoyed such a triumph in Bologna. Political sensibilities might have resulted in rayat becoming known by a different name, but the truth is that peasant subjection to usury is still a huge problem in India and still results in enormous numbers of suicides (the one remedy for the shame of being reduced to beggary). What is more, India is also a country whose governing classes do not see fit to protect the nation’s “pariahs” from an endemic disease which is now well-controlled in countries that are far from wealthy (personal communication by professor Cesare Saltini, after visits to India’s TB hospital departments).

If Vandana Shiva does not feel she can use her position to attack the adoption of western science that has made India into an atomic power, she could at least turn her attention to such social injustices within her own country, or champion the creation of the sort of TB sanatoriums set up by Mussolini. Instead, she chooses to argue for the reintroduction of the sort of famine agriculture that a great Indian politician had relegated to the past. Why this should be so, I cannot say. However, given it is, the applause and ovations that greeted her in Bologna are, at the very least, ill-informed. Some might even describe them as an expression of wilfully blind fanaticism.

NOTE: The “Ambassador for Famine” has long proclaimed to one and all that she had a doctorate in Quantum Physics, a qualification which seemed to add credence to her statements regarding western science. Articles by the GLP’s Jon Entine and Michael Specter of The New Yorker have definitively proven that she has in fact been lying–her degree is in philosophy. But the story gets worse; her thesis was an attack on conventional science. As Henry I. Miller and Drew L. Kershen have noted, her much-mentioned doctorate – now filed away in the archive of the University of Western Ontario in Canada – was an attack upon a theory which has received full experimental confirmation (Wealthy Activist Vandana Shiva Is A Poor Advocate For The Poor). It would appear that Vandana Shiva’s grasp of quantum physics is no more secure than her understanding of agronomy.

Antonio Saltini, Adjunct Professor of History at the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Milan, is author of the four-volume work Storico delle scienze agrarie (History of agrarian sciences in Western civilization).

  • Cairenn Day

    Thank you. I did not know the history of the introduction of Western seed stock in India was because of one brave lady.

    I did know that much good is being undone because of one self centered woman,

    • Periyabalan

      Vandana is indeed not a “one- self-centered woman,” but there is a big learned mafia behind her.

      • Mafia feeds the world

        Oooh poor Monsanto, a billion dollar trans national corporation, the living embodiment of all that is good, beautiful and holy, is not allowed to save the world because of one Indian woman in a spree. How hard she is making you work that you keep needing to peddle lies.

        • Jonah Stephen Swersey

          Dafuq does monsanto have to do with it? Modern, western agriculture (much of which had absolutely nothing to do with Monsanto, which at the time was still a relatively small company) saved millions in India. Getting rid of it it would doom hundreds of millions. This has nothing to do with Monsanto.

  • Antumbra

    A fascinating article. I’d been tangentially aware of some details of India’s historical troubles with food and famine, and this has given me a lot of background to look into.

  • jbecket

    Vandana Shiva has never stated she has a doctorate in quantum physics. Period. And why is it that all the farmers in India who have converted to organic are producing more and given no need for the expensive input of chemicals are earning more. This is not famine agriculture.

    • Sorry, but Shiva has claimed in two of her books and on her website and in more than 50 interviews that she has a PhD in physics. The use of BT cotton in India has gone from 0 percent in 2002 to more than 90 percent today–because yields are up 15-35% and inputs (expensive and dangerous pesticides) are way down. Organic cotton production lags in output in India by about 25% according to independent government statistics, and input costs are higher as well, as organic farmers extensively use toxic pesticides (natural, but dangerous and harmful).

    • JoeFarmer

      “And why is it that all the farmers in India who have converted to
      organic are producing more and given no need for the expensive input of
      chemicals are earning more.”

      Because they’re not.

      “On average, GM technology has increased crop yields by 21% (Figure 2). These yield increases are not due to higher genetic yield potential, but to more effective pest control and thus lower crop damage [27]. At the same time, GM crops have reduced pesticide quantity by 37% and
      pesticide cost by 39%. The effect on the cost of production is not significant. GM seeds are more expensive than non-GM seeds, but the additional seed costs are compensated through savings in chemical and mechanical pest control. Average profit gains for GM-adopting farmers
      are 69%.”

      • jbecket

        Hi Joe. I’m going only by farmers I have spoken to in India who farmed chemically and were having decreasing yields and soil depletion issues. When they changed to organic they had increasing yields and greater income due to reduced costs of inputs. I’m not sure what country your statistics refer to but if I am correct it’s only really bt cotton that is a GM crop grown in India.

        • JoeFarmer

          I posted a legitimate study and you’re talking about “some farmers” you have talked to.

          Organic is a scam.

        • hyperzombie

          Record cotton crop last year in India, again. So much for decreasing yields.

          • jbecket

            I was not referring to bt cotton which is basically the one GMO used in India. I was referring to farmers I spoke to who farmed with chemical fertilizer, pesticides etc. They were having declining yields due to depleted soil. They did better when they switched to organic. I’m just referring to farmers I’ve spoken to, not a global statistic.

    • hyperzombie

      She kind of does, she never mentions that her Phd is in philosophy, not physics. Even her own web site doesnt mention it.

    • Warren Lauzon

      She never says it directly, she implies that she has a doctorate in physics.

      • jbecket

        I’ve never heard her imply that. Her website and resume don’t say that. Questioning her academic credentials is part of the attempt to discredit her by way of a personal attack. I think much more productive is to deal with issues and attack on that basis, attack her ideas not her person. For example she’s been a strong believer in anthropogenic climate change, if you’re a climate skeptic, then argue on that. She believes water rights are a human right, if you believe it is a market commodity, argue on that. She is a Gandhian who believes in non violent civil disobedience, if you are a proponent of military solutions to social conflicts, argue that, She is a strong proponent of organic biodiverse agriculture and opposed to industrial chemical GMO monoculture. If you’re pro industrial farming argue on that. Like her views or not, the woman is a genius and as ah activist has weighed in on the major issues of our time.

        • Do you understand what an ad hominem attack is? It’s criticizing someone personally. Pointing out that Shiva has lied hundreds of times about her credentials is not an hominem attack by any stretch. Get it grip. It does, however provide a window into her character. She has lied in her books…she can’t erase that. She changed her website AFTER the exposes by me and Michael Specter—10 years and about 1000 times after it was pointed out to everyone that she lied. Moreover I heard her speak and recently and she still lies at public appearances revealing. She is absolutely a Brahmin, and that’s been confirmed. As for her policies, they would be a disaster for poor people…she is for the rich and by the rich…and fox in sheep’s clothing. Here are three independent sources:
          –New Yorker
          –Reply to Shiva by New Yorker editor:
          Shiva is a rich, dangerous elitist.

          • jbecket

            Thank You. I have certainly read all three. Though this is the first time i’ve heard her described as a rich dangerous elitist. And that she is for the rich and by the rich. That is simply not my experience. And what is a Brahmin supposed to mean in this context. Who confirmed it? And so what I guess. We just have to disagree. Though I think the most important debate and I know your particular interest is in biotech is in the area of agriculture and the two different visions of the future.

          • Actually, I think you have it completely wrong. Like many ideologues, including Shiva, you see the world in black and white…as two different visions of the future. That’s not science or real life. Biotech is one tool, as is organics. Co-existence, not hard headed views are what is needed. Read “Tomorrow’s Table” by an organic farmer and a plant scientist. If you are capable and willing to think in a nuanced way, it will open your mind. Good luck to you.

          • jbecket

            Thank you Jon. I agree that was sort of thrown out as a careless last sentence. Olivier du Schutter as the UN rapporteur on food did conclude that both have a role to play and indeed there are many different subsets in organic and chemical agriculture. He did feel however that organics were getting the short end of subsidies and government support. I do wish your tone were a little less patronizing as I do think it is more healthy, if there is to be an exchange, to be respectful. Why call me an ideologue when you don’t know me? Or tell me to get a grip. Or question whether I am competent to have a mind capable of nuanced thinking. I suppose your writing and your strong language do encourage polemics in the comments. I guess that’s the name of the game today in public discourse, and I’m in the wrong game as I’m not a polemicist or ideologue. That being said we will continue to disagree on the character of Vandana Shiva!

          • jbecket

            Jon, just one more thought or request, I know you’re very busy and it’s important to you as you see her as a dangerous person. I do in fact have some of her books, perhaps you could just give me a few citations of her lies and that would be helpful. Thank you.

          • NoToGMOs

            What exactly has she lied about regarding her credentials?

            Take a look at her Ph.D thesis and tell me how exactly the topic falls under Classical Philosophy and not under Theoretical Physics? I’m sure you must know since YOUR degree is actually in Philosophy! Did you learn about terms like BELL THEOREM, LOCALITY, NONMEASURABLE VARIABLES, QUANTUM MECHANICS,RANDOMNESS etc. in your BA Philosophy classes??


          • It falls under philosophy of science.

          • NoToGMOs

            Are you saying that the International Nuclear Information System (INIS) of the International Atomic Energy Agency publishes/hosts articles/papers in Philosophy of Science? Because that is where here her Ph.D thesis has been hosted/included:


            And if you take a closer look at that link, you will see that it has been classified under the subject of ‘CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM MECHANICS, GENERAL PHYSICS.

          • This is silly. Where a presentation was hosted doesn’t matter. Her degree was issued by the humanities department. It’s a philosophy degree–and the paper has long been since discredited in that regard. The woman is a pathological liar. She admitted herself in her reply to the New York Times that she does NOT have a science PhD. Even she admitted she lied! Give up on this.

          • NoToGMOs

            Even if it is a philosophy of science degree….it is not the classical philosophy degree which you purposely imply it to be by saying it is a degree in ‘philosophy’.

            Why don’t you give up on this? Whatever the subject of her education is, your underhanded and desperate attempts to malign her are obvious to the world. It doesn’t take a genius to see that you are not worthy of wiping her shoes…credential or character-wise.

          • Since I’d already done the digging on this before the previous post on the article’s appearance in INIS was moderated, here it is… I agree it’s a pointless avenue!

            IAEA’s database probably doesn’t have a “PHILOSOPHY” classification. Note that they don’t host it, they just list it. Being listed in INIS isn’t much more significant than coming up in a Google search.

            Databases like INIS and INSPIRE are fairly broad in what they include, in order to be maximally useful. This topic in philosophy of science relates to interpretation of quantum mechanics: by the standards of physics it is a fringe activity and has a philosophical nature. It’s a strange area, discussion and speculation of physics that “real” physicists don’t touch, published in philosophy journals that they don’t read!

            I could only find two “physics” Shiva papers online, to which I have university fulltext access via JSTOR. On one she is the sole author: it has some mathematical content, but it’s just repetition of the content of a first university course in quantum mechanics combined with hand-waving and philosophical speculation about the unknowable true nature of QM. It has never been cited. The other is a conference proceeding co-authored with (her supervisor?) Jeffrey Bub on Bell’s Theorem — it’s a bit more substantial but still very borderline on being physics. Cited twice in 35 years.

            A generous interpretation would be that Shiva did a PhD on the interpretation of quantum mechanics, on the boundary between physics and philosophy. This is anyway mostly irrelevant, so let’s be generous. Still, that’s not what was claimed on her biography and in many articles before a degree of clarification was forced: theoretical/quantum/nuclear/particle physicist, and often one of India’s leading physicists! Those are definitely misrepresentations — but I suspect that the aura of a physics connection made her seem cleverer and more authoritative. (It’s yet to work for me, but hey…)

            This credentials thing is rather a distraction: if it’s philosophy, it’s physicsy philosophy (and a bit trivial); if it’s physics it’s fringe physics and very trivial. Either way it wasn’t influential and she took this work no further than a PhD. It has nothing to do with what she has done since or is known for, other than she keeps overclaiming irrelevant scientific credentials. Stop there?

          • hyperzombie

            Cited twice in 35 years.

            Even the European Sasquatch paper was cited more times….LOL..

      • jbecket

        I think if you read our friend Jon Entine’s recent entry it would not be a matter of implication but rather that she has lied hundreds of times about her credentials. And he kindly suggested that I ‘get it grip’.
        For me Vandana Shiva has every right to present herself as a scientist and physicist. She cannot and
        does not claim that she has a Phd in quantum physics. A child scientific prodigy whose idol was Einstein she received one of India’s prestigious scientific scholarships. This was a teenager whose recreation was doing mathematical puzzles. She received an Msc in Physics from the University of Punjab. She was the first woman hired by the Indian Atomic Energy Agency.
        Recognizing the dangers in nuclear power, she gave up what could have been a promising career. Fascinated by quantum physics, she worked with India’s leading quantum physicist. She then received a scholarship to join a group in Canada at the University of Guelph from different parts of the world
        to work for five years on quantum physics.
        She calls it the most intellectually stimulating period of her life. Always questioning and immersed in
        quantum physics, she saw the limits of mechanistic physics and thus turned her attention to the philosophy of science. Hence her Phd from the University of Western Ontario. Once again, unlike many of her compatriots, she turned down the promise of a lucrative North American academic career. Feeling she owed her country that had given her her free education, she returned to India and her activism began defending the illiterate Chipko villagers (first ‘tree huggers’). Using her scientific training to do a thorough ecological study, eventually the villagers won against the timberindustry when the Supreme Court held that a standing forest had more value than a cut forest. More victories would follow, despite death threats against her and her family. Quantum physics has in fact been the
        foundation of her world view and her prolific output of twenty books and countless research papers and articles, in that she sees all as interconnected. A Gandhian with no interest in fame or fortune, she is in a position where she is beholden to no institution or
        person. There is no one she has to please. She sees her life as one of service which she tirelessly pursues as a scientist and an activist.

        • Citing quantum mechanics as revealing that everything is connected is incredibly trite and simplistic — there is plenty of classical physics that would make that point, and plenty of quantum mechanics to unmake it. A physicist (sorry, “Physicist”) would know that and avoid talking bollocks.

          I’d like to avoid ad hom attacks, but have to take issue with your hagiography: turning down a lucrative career to campaign with no interest in fame and fortune does not easily square with the 5-figure speaking fees and demands for 1st class intercontinental air fares.

          How Shiva sees herself is known only to her, but is not really the point: she has spent much of her life campaigning for ideological goals which the best data suggest are either fictions of her own making, or are actively against the interests of those she claims to represent. It’s well documented that she has had no problem with continuing to push the farmer suicide myth long after it was comprehensively debunked, nor with inventing spurious IP issues with biotech in India.

          I can quite believe that she might see such deceits as necessary in order to push for a greater good, but I would expect a self-professed scientist to have more respect for data over personal prejudice. Fighting for ignorance and perpetual poverty is one kind of “tirelessly campaigning” the world can do without.

        • Warren Lauzon

          Are we talking about the same person here? Vandana has a degree in Philosophy, not physics. She earned her doctorate in Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario in 1978 by a dissertation titled “Hidden variables and locality in quantum theory”.[3] However, she claims to be a quantum physicist.[4] Various environmentalism and leftwing websites also introduce her as a physicist.[5][6]

          • NoToGMOs

            It’s so obvious this stuff is way beyond your comprehension. Here’s her Ph.d thesis:


            What exactly in that makes you think the topic is part of Classical Philosophy and not Theoretical Physics? Explain to me what the terms BELL THEOREM, LOCALITY, NONMEASURABLE VARIABLES, QUANTUM MECHANICS,RANDOMNESS, STATISTICS…..which are all used in her thesis abstract…..have to do with Classical Philosophy??

        • She has claimed she is a “Quantum physicist” literally hundreds of times. That’s a bald-faced lie.

      • NoToGMOs

        Yes, she has….in Theoretical Physics….something way above your head.

        • No, she has a philosophy degree. She studied Quantum Physics, which is a philosophy, and a discredited one. If you read her paper, it’s a post-modernist embarrassment–totally rejected by modern science.

          • NoToGMOs

            Quantum physics is a discredited philosophy?!! You might want to go in and change this wiki page then, to reflect this hitherto unknown fact:


            Wow, you take the cake in making things up! It’s good you are behind a computer screen for this….I”m sure it’s hard to keep a straight face when coming up with such gems! Smh.

    • ForGMOEducation

      I was at a presentation 2 weeks ago where she told a crowded room that she has a physics PhD.

      • jbecket

        Hi, this is important. I’d be grateful if you could tell me what the meeting was. Was it on November 9 and the Hammer Museum in LA. Hopefully the meeting you were at was recorded so I can check it out and if I find it stand corrected. Thanks.

      • NoToGMOs

        She does…in theoretical physics. Here’s her thesis:

        • ForGMOEducation

          Her PhD is in philosophy. She chose to study philosophy of science. If you look at her Wikipedia, it is worded so that it never says directly that she has a PhD in physics. If she did, it would say so. Also, she is a faculty member in “Arts and Humanities” not a scientific department.

          • NoToGMOs

            You’re not that naive to believe everything Wikipedia says, are you? It is constantly being edited/changed by corporate shills (ahem!) to reflect their biased opinions.

          • ForGMOEducation

            Of course I don’t believe everything Wikipedia says. I do believe the proceedings from the Philosophy of Science Association though, where it is documented that Vandana presented her thesis.
            People always resort to shill calling when they nothing of value left to add to the conversation.

          • NoToGMOs

            Could you link me to this documentation?

          • ForGMOEducation


            Simply download the PDF and look at the first page, or you can the text on JSTOR that says “…on behalf of the Philosophy of Science Association.”

    • nursepat

      I have read her books and she states in at least one that she has such a degree. Read her books. She is brilliant!

    • Wackes Seppi

      « Vandana Shiva has never stated
      she has a doctorate in quantum physics » ?

      You may be right. For sure,
      « doctorate » is not common – unlike « PhD »
      – in the resumés drawn up by herself or on her behalf.

      There are quite some occurrences of
      « PhD in quantum physics » in portraits of her…
      including portraits which she has posted on the site of the
      mysterious Navdanya organisation :

      But since she usually does not know
      what she is talking about – for instance rape being equated with
      the growing of GMO crops – I can readily accept that she does not
      know what she is posting around either.

      And if she had a pinch of honesty she
      would ensure that her credentials are correctly described. But she
      lacks that too.

  • Rujuta

    What a pathetic and desperate an attempt to continue to slander someone who is making you feel nervous. She stands for a model of agriculture that is living and in harmony with the earth and indeed feeds the world. Now that your lies are being exposed, you resort to you periodic venom. And while you are at it it would be nice to get your facts right once in a while. To start with she is not a Brahmin, so repeating this lie again and again doesn’t help.

    • hyperzombie

      She stands for a model of agriculture that is living and in harmony with the earth

      Agriculture is not natural, it is a human designed food production system. There is no harmony with nature in any type of agriculture, or it would be called hunting and gathering.

  • Nikita

    Seems like Genetic Literacy project doesn’t get its required funding from its masters at Monsanto unless they produce their monthly fictions against Vandana Shiva. Incidentally she was not in bologna this year. It would be nice to check facts once in a while.

    • It was Sep 7, 2013 and not Sep 7, 2014. Does it change anything?
      It’s curious that the most common response when facing solid arguments or facts is “who’s paying you?”. Nothing more persuasive?

  • SmallFarmBeliever

    Anyone who reads this article… please get a well rounded view on the issue. As well, these poor lost souls authoring this kind of garbage stand no chance at defeating a globally growing movement to return the soil and seed sovereignty, rightly back to its stewards – the people who live on the land, small hold farmers!
    “Seems like Genetic Literacy project doesn’t get its required funding from its masters at Monsanto unless they produce their monthly fictions against Vandana Shiva. Incidentally she was not in bologna this year. It would be nice to check facts once in a while”

  • G. Williker

    Brilliant. Thank you.

  • DLN Rao

    Thanks for doing such a service to the community. India will starve without modern seeds and agro-chemical inputs.

  • Tripoemitico

    Antonio Saltini, yes you are right, everything made in the rich north is always better for the poor south… What can we do without Monsanto and friends?
    Who would feed us with GMO cotton and GMO corn syrup?
    When was the last time you cook a meal with GMO’s?
    But you are right why indian kids do not eat GMO junk food, like in the United States where kids are facing the worse epidemic of diabetes, over weight and related diseases… Shame on you Antonio!

  • Wackes Seppi

    For your and other’s records: the
    latest lie about her credentials :

    « ELLE. Pourquoi avez-vous
    abandonné votre poste d’enseignante chercheuse à l’université de
    Bangalore pour prendre fait et cause pour les agriculteurs indiens ?

    Vandana Shiva. Parce que je ne pouvais
    pas tout mener de front ! Après mon doctorat de physique quantique
    au Canada, je suis rentrée à la maison, dans la vallée du Dun. »

    « Q.: Why did you abandon your
    position as a teacher and researcher at Bangalore University to
    champion Indian farmers ?

    A.: Because I could not do every
    thing at the same time ! After my PhD in quantum pysics in
    Canada, I went back home, in the Dun valley. »

  • I just had a look at which is the only Shiva (+Bub) paper I could find online. (Is the PhD thesis available as a PDF or similar anywhere?) My Google Scholar search listed it alongside the Sokal hoax paper, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything!

    There is some mathematics in the short paper, although not a lot by physics paper standards. Overall I don’t know what to think of it — hidden variables theories and the like are viewed as fringe physics by most, specifically because they are (formalised) speculations about unknowables. Sound like philosophy to anyone else? This paper seems to have shown that some non-standard formulations of quantum mechanics can satisfy Bell’s Inequality. I don’t know if this was correct, or stood the test of time, but it certainly wasn’t very influential — 2 citations in the intervening 35 years. I would be interested to take a look at Shiva’s thesis and see how that stacks up by comparison.

    Anyway, her citation record and the nature of this work — whether you class it as philosophy or sufficiently mathematical to be physics — do not stack up with claims that she was a nuclear physicist or particle physicist, let alone one of India’s leading ones. Nor does it mean that the things she’s claimed to have been “taught by quantum mechanics” aren’t misinterpreted gibberish; nor that any of this is really of any relevance at all. She should clarify the situation: given the wide spread of descriptions of her PhD work, most must be wrong. But it’s much more relevant to focus on the provably nonsensical and anti-evidence statements that she’s made on agriculture/nutrition than on an old, irrelevant PhD topic… which wouldn’t even be on the agenda if she didn’t mention it so often!

    • Andy, I talked with her university. They said flatly she got her degree in the Arts and Humanities division, and she does NOT have a science degree, period. Vandana’s thesis reflects the run-of-the-mill postmodernist view of science that was rampant during the time she wrote it. None of the claims have stood the test of time, and the theories she promotes are considered fossils, quite laughable now. Shiva is a classic poseur.

      • NoToGMOs

        They said flatly she got her degree in the Arts and Humanities division, and she does NOT have a science degree, period.”

        Which degree of hers are we talking about here? Her Master’s degree or her Ph.d? You need to clarify that and not be so vague.

        • Her PhD was in the School of Arts and Humanities. For years, she claimed she got a degree in physics. She lied literally thousands of times. She got a degree in the philosophy of science–totally different as it requires no formal science training–and her research was Quantum Mechanics. Her philosophical deconstruction is totally discredited. So she is not only a pathological liar, her work has turned out to be meaningless–reflecting the ideological blather of the post-modernist infection in the social sciences. Is she a great propagandist? Absolutely! Has she gone up her own backside and believes the gibberish she spouts? Absolutely. But conviction does not absolve oneself of lying, repeatedly so, in the face of incontrovertible facts. She shows clear signs, based on her public persona, of pathological narcissism.

          • NoToGMOs

            Wow, what a lot of bluster and venom! Is she that much of a threat to you that you use terms like ‘pathological liar’ and ‘pathological narcissism’ to describe her?!

            Most of her education was in interdisciplinary research (crossing the lines between different disciplines and looking at how they are connected). This is not something that most people go into these days (requires a higher level of thinking and perhaps not much monetary gain to be had compared to the ‘fixed’ branches of science).

            Most unbiased people who actually read her Ph.D thesis (at least the abstract, which is all I can find) and are asked to classify it as either classical Philosophy (which is what you want people to think it is) or Physics…….. would definitely choose the latter. It may not be the classical Physics that we are all used to, but it is definitely ‘more’ Physics than Philosophy. And the fact that the degree was given under the Arts and Humanities department doesn’t change this. Decades ago, university departments were not as finely specialized/delineated as they are now.

          • munza

            My goodness, this little old lady from India seems to upset so many people. And their intemperate and vitriolic language throws into question their objectivity. The basic thesis seems to be that she has lied about her academic credentials of thirty years ago, thus everything she states ,be it about climate change, organic agriculture, seed freedom vs seed monopoly, water rights, farmer rights, etc, her twenty books and countless articles deserve no credence. and are meaningless. Well, it’s good Jon that you’ve created this site where both sides of the great divide on the future of the world’s food can express or vent their views on the issue. And venting is probably good to handle anger management.

          • No, her lies on her credentials are just indicative of her mindset…clearly delusional and disrespectful of the facts. That shows up in the more important issues–her views on ag and farming policy. The basic thesis of her legion of critics, liberal and conservative, is that she is a dangerous demagogue who lies about the impact of modern technology. She lies about the Green Revolution, she lies about that farmers are committing suicide because of their use of GM crops, and she lies about the role of organic agriculture. Here is an article in the New Yorker which lays it out very well and quite dispassionately: … If you have a different perspective grounded in facts, we’d love to post that on the GLP. Let us know.

          • munza

            Thank you for your offer. It’s rather like where to start, and time management vs diminishing returns. Just one note though I wouldn’t call the New Yorker article ‘dispassionate’. Appointing the biotech writer to write about her and spending only a few minutes with her and giving more time and advice to the CEO of Monsanto was not in the usual tradition of a New Yorker profile. She did answer point by point so at least the two views are on the record though their distribution numbers reflect the relative power of both sides of the debate. Anyway I look forward to following your blog. Thank you.

          • I think you have some facts wrong. Michael Specter is not a “biotech writer.” He’s a general science writer. Also, the New York Times offered Shiva unlimited time to be interviewed and travel together but she declined. So that’s on her. Please read this:

          • munza

            Thank you. I had read it. I didn’t know about the NYT offer.

          • munza

            Oh my Jon it’s hard to resist! I do have a few questions. Are you comfortable with five multi-national companies having a near monopoly on industrial agricultural inputs? Are you concerned about soil depletion? If you accept the notion of human caused climate change are you concerned about industrial agriculture’s contribution to CO2 (especially animal agriculture that is enough to make vegans of us all!)? I do believe you have spoken of the super weeds issue. I also think you have stated that organic has its place. Anyway there are of course larger issues involved and Vandana Shiva does speak to them with her concept of earth democracy which has an appeal. Thank you.

    • NoToGMOs

      The first link you provided seems to be just one of her publications. Her master’s degree, done at University of Guelph was in Philosophy of Science and the thesis for that was titled ‘Changes in the Concept of Periodicity of Light’ :

      Her Ph.D thesis, done at the Univ. of Western Ontario, was titled ‘Hidden variables and locality in quantum theory’:

      Both of these are decades old and that is probably the reason, we can’t find it in its entirety either in pdf or other ‘modern’ format. The best I could find was the abstract at the INIS site of the IAEA :

      If you look at the above link, you will see this as the source of this report:

      “Dec 1978; 205 p; TC–48413; ; Available from Canadian Theses on Microfiche Service, National Library of Canada, Ottawa, Canada K1A 0N4; Thesis (Ph. D.)”

      Apparently it’s so old, it is only available on Microfiche from the National Library of Canada! Entine must have gone through a lot of trouble to get this, if what he said is actually true. He said he ‘downloaded’ her thesis……I wonder how he managed to ‘download’ microfiche? Perhaps he could share with us how he did this and/or the actual downloaded document.

      What a lot of trouble to go through to try and make someone’s credentials look bad! But what he and many of you don’t realize is Vandana Shiva is much more than just ‘credentials’. She is a rare breed of person that can see the ‘grey’, while most of the highly ‘qualified’ scientists that you all support can only see things in black and white. A pity there aren’t more like her.

      • Okay, so we can agree that she is a sociopath and pathological liar who can see the “grey” in the world. You can have her. She’s a dangerous demagogue.

  • hyperzombie

    Philosophy of Quantum mechanics?

    Do you not read your own links? From her abstract (bold added so you dont miss it)

    The philosophical siter each measurement. The philosophical significance of this theory lies in the role it can play in solving the conceptual puzzles posed by quantum theory

    • NoToGMOs

      Yes, her abstract has the word ‘philosophical’ in it……her Ph.D must definitely be in Philosophy then! Thank goodness it doesn’t have the word ‘notes’ in it……you would have said her Ph.D was in Music! You truly are a genius!!

      • hyperzombie

        Really, that’s your argument? Wow, your just a sad, sad individual.

  • nursepat

    GMOs , Monsanto, and other large corporations are all about making money and not about feeding the masses. Many small farmers in India and in Mexico cannot afford to purchase the seeds for subsequent crops. Round up is very controversial right now and why open Pandora’s Box till real studies have been done on the effects of this chemical. As far as the GMO Golden Rice is concerned-vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin so absorption of this vitamin depends on eating some fats with the rice. Many very poor folks in various countries where rice is their staple have a hard time providing this. In the US, years ago, we added Vit D to milk to prevent rickets. We didn’t need to genetically modify anything to do that. I would love for someone to come up with a way to add vitamin A to the diets of poor people who eat rice as the mainstay of their diet. Any ideas? I would also like to recommend a book called DIRT. It’s a natural and cultural history to show how soil erosion cause civilizations to fall apart and how modern agricultural societies face similar problems unless they shift to more sustainable practices. (I think the Amish and the Mennonites will be the survivors here). This book was written by David Montgomery-professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington.

    • Nurse, you come across as very well meaning, but numerous facts are askew. You are welcome do indict any corporation for “making money” but that’s what corporations do. Whole Foods and the entire organic and supplement industries make multiple more dollars than does the relatively small biotech sector–and they do so by selling outrageously prices foods that have no scientifically shown benefits for the price. That is the very definition of greed. Whole Foods’ revenue is almost identical to Monsanto’s. If you directed your ire at the rape and deception in the organic/natural/supplement industry, then your criticism of large seed companies would be understandable; instead you come across like a selective ideologue. As for glyphosate, it’s one of the most tested chemicals in the world….been around for almost four decades. There is no controversy about it among scientists. It’s LD50 toxic rating is less than common table salt. It’s far less harmful than most organic pesticides. Every agency in the world has reviewed it and declared it safe. There is zero reason to revisit that question, though the current anti-science panic promulgated on anti-GMO websites has led to some new studies, all of which–those published in mainstream journals and not pay for play embarrassments–confirm the overwhelming consensus that glyphosate is not carcinogenic and is biodegradable. You understanding of how Golden Rice would work is out of the anti-science play book. This claim you make has been well studied, and dismissed as a serious concern by independent researchers. BTW, the Amish and Mennonites are enthusiastic adopters of GM technology…so you are right, they may yet be survivors.

      • nursepat

        It.s a hot topic for sure, and I do actually see both sides of the picture, but like to discuss it. Please read DIRT.