Indian Eco-Goddess Vandana Shiva, charging $40,000 a speech, takes anti-GMO crusade to Hawaii

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The “eco warrior goddess” has returned to Hawaii, and that’s not good news for those committed to science literacy and sustainability.

I’m referring to Vandana Shiva, the Indian anti-GMO crusader who kicked off a five-day blitz through Hawaii with a talk-and-music fest at the Capitol Building on Wednesday. Anti-activist groups wearing chemical suits tried to make the case to state legislators that seed company research centers in Maui and elsewhere on the islands are endangering Hawaiians by using chemicals in their test plots—despite studies by the state and federal government rebuffing those claims.

She’s on a grand tour, marked by private fund-raising pitches to wealthy locals and wannabees from the mainland who view the limited role of biotechnological research in modern agriculture as an anathema—Hawaii is a world center because of its favorable climate.

hr-maui-poster_75120Campaigns, like this tour aimed at shutting down nursery centers, most based in Maui, could send the seed giants fleeing to Puerto Rico or the Philippines, costing Hawaii hundreds of millions of dollars and hurting the cause for sustainability in the process.

Shiva’s visit caps off with a Sunday afternoon rally at the Seabury Theatre on Maui with headlined demands for what the prime organizer—Washington, DC-based Center for Food Safety (CFS)—calls “home rule”. While polls show a majority of Maui farmers and residents oppose the effort to shut down the seed nurseries and research labs, anyone but diehard opponents of modern agriculture will be personae non grata at this rally.

The Real Vandana Shiva

Shiva is reprising her 2013 tour, also led by CFS, which oversees scheduling of her $40,000-a-pop promotional speeches. A Brahmin who professes to stand with the downtrodden, Shiva maintains her goal is “giving voice to those who want their agriculture free of poison and GMOs.”

On her arrival two years ago, Shiva was an exotic unknown—a “rock star in the global battle over genetically modified seeds”, in the words of journalist Bill Moyers. Here in Hawaii, she was treated as a foreign dignitary. No one dared criticize her.

Now, two years later, as more details of her philosophy and background have emerged, a darker picture has emerged. She leverages her claim as an expert at every stop. “I am scientist… a Quantum Physicist,” she claimed, until recently on her website and in many books, a claim repeated by journalists, even prominent. But she’s not. He degree was in humanities—she’s a philosopher of science, but has no professional hard science background or writings.

To her followers? Details, Details. She is fiery and charismatic Beware of Big Ag and the health dangers of GMOs and pesticides. Take back Hawaii!

Veteran of thousands of anti-GMO speeches, Shiva has developed a polished script: with key talking points.

The Green Revolution? The introduction of modern agricultural techniques, particularly in the developing world beginning in the 1950s promoted high-yielding varieties of cereal grains, expansion of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of management techniques, distribution of hybridized seeds and making available advanced nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides to farmers. It’s credited by the United Nations with saving more than one billion lives.

But Shiva believes the Green Revolution has been a sham. By 1991, she was publicly calling it “a failure,” that has led to diminishing productivity and kills farmers.

“Until the 1960s, India was successfully pursuing an agricultural development policy based on strengthening the ecological base of agriculture and the self-reliance of peasants,” Shiva has written, framing the past as an Eden-like wonderland of equality and agricultural fertility.India

Facts: During the 1960s, India faced mass starvation and imported most of its grain—11 million tons in mid decade. Frail Indian children dying of malnutrition filled the pages of global magazines. Fifty years later India produces 250 million tons annually. The Green Revolution has increased world food production more than 300 percent since 1950, all on about the same amount of land. Certainly there have been some negative consequences from industrial agriculture, especially in its early years when scientists beginning to master the complex chemicals needed to jump start yields. But to call it a failure is demagogic.

Indian biotech farmer mass suicide deception

What about Shiva’s claim that the introduction of GMOs in India in the early 2000s has spurred mass suicide by farmers? It’s one of her most popular applause lines, one that stirs the hearts of her dedicated followers.

Suicides have intensified after the introduction of GMO Bt cotton [in India],” she has written. Again and again, a trope disseminated even by mainstream publications such as The Guardian, without fact checking. “…[S]eed monopolies… the collection of super-profits …has created a context for debt, suicides and agrarian distress which is driving the farmers’ suicide epidemic in India.”

Foodie favorite Michael Pollan, who often recommends her anti-GMO factoids to his half-million Twitter followers, called the documentary ”Bitter Seeds, which featured Shiva promoting this notion, “a powerful documentary on farmer suicides and biotech seeds in India.”

Facts: Shiva’s claims are false. She alleges a link between farmer suicides and the adoption of Bt cotton in India when no causal link exists. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reviewed the government data, academic articles and media reports about Bt cotton and suicide in India in 2008 and 2010, concluding that farmer suicides predated the introduction of GMOs, reflect the broader trend in suicides in the general population and have in fact leveled off in the agricultural sector in recent years.farmer-suicides2

“[I]t is nonsense to attribute farmer suicides solely to Bt cotton,” wrote Dominic Glover, an agricultural socio-economist at Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands in an article in Nature two years ago. “Although financial hardship is a driving factor in suicide among Indian farmers, there has been essentially no change in the suicide rate for farmers since the introduction of Bt cotton.”

Shiva helps delay life-saving, vitamin enhanced food for the poor in the developing world

Screen-Shot-2014-08-26-at-10.54.43-AM-300x272These misrepresentations are just the tip of the Shiva fear-generating iceberg. For background, readers could check out this Forbes analysis and the award-winning profile, “Seeds of Doubt”, by Michael Specter for the über -liberal New Yorker published last summer, a scathing rebuttal from Shiva and a reply to Shiva by Specter’s editor, David Remnick.

Perhaps the most frightening consequences of this kind of misrepresentation is that it helps sow doubt about applications of agricultural biotechnology that almost everyone agrees is beneficial: tweaking crops to protect them against deadly diseases (the Hawaiian papaya) and insects (Bt crops) or adding nutritional elements, such as in cassava, an African staple, or rice, an Asian staple.

Almost 700,000 children under the age of 5 die every year from Vitamin A deficiency disease. Golden Rice, in development in the Philippines, has been genetically engineered with enhanced production and accumulation of β-carotene in the grains. It was developed independent of major corporations and patent free by Ingo Potrykus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Peter Beyer of the University of Freiburg. Shiva calls Golden Rice a hoax, a myth and a false solution referring to it as “a blind approach to blindness prevention…..”

“The Golden Rice pushers are in fact worsening the crisis of hunger and malnutrition,” she writes on her website, Navdanya. “Promoters of Golden Rice are blind to diversity, and hence are promoters of blindness, both metaphorically and nutritionally.”

But the people who come to her events by and large are already persuaded by her anti-corporation, enviro-romantic view of the world. She holds the crowds in thrall The soaring rhetoric resonates with many in Hawaii who see themselves as idealists, Davis vs. Goliath.

In overstating her credentials and spreading an ideological agenda as if it is fact, Vandana Shiva asks the public to believe she is an expert in farming, chemicals, biotechnology, global politics and poverty. She has indeed evolved into a rock star— a major influencer and one of the central fundraisers for the anti-biotechnology cause. Vanda Shiva’s prescriptions for Hawaii and global food security deserve to be judged based upon the integrity of her arguments and the empirical evidence, not on the raw emotion that she can stir in a crowd.

Jon Entine, executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project, is a Senior Fellow at the World Food Center Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy, University of California-Davis. Follow @JonEntine on Twitter.

  • Loren Eaton

    I just saw a report that in India in 2012, 48% of children under the age of 5 (over 60 million) were malnourished and stunted (wasted is the word they use). And yet this woman insists that they are doing things the right way (just as she ignores the ’60s, even I remember that). Makes you wonder why she doesn’t stay in her own country and solve THEIR problems….perhaps that doesn’t involve $40K at a crack.

    • Pacific Weather

      Another article with talking points from the agro-business industry, the author obviously supports. Independent non-bias assessments on either side may be problematic but this person is certainly not going to provide it

      If GMOs are no worries than why do Monsanto and related industries spend hundreds of millions fighting labeling it. If there are no health issues what is there to fear. They are labeled in the EU should we conclude that all Europeans are just hysterics?

      At any rate this article from Mother Jones shows how an agro-business apologist like Entine is made:

      http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/02/atrazine-syngengta-tyrone-hayes-jon-entine

      But what caught my eye about Entine’s post in the first place is that his name had shown up in a recent report by the Center for Media and Democracy (part one, part two) about the efforts of Syngenta, the globe’s largest agribusiness firm and the maker of atrazine, to protect its lucrative chemical from
      possible regulatory action by the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA is currently reviewing the herbicide’s registration.

      Last year, a panel of independent scientists convened by the EPA recommended that the agency revise its assumption that atrazine is “unlikely to cause cancer.”

      Pointing to what it called “strong” epidemiological evidence linking atrazine to thyroid cancer, the panel states that the agency is currently acting with “inadequate information to assess carcinogenic potential.” The European Union banned atrazine in 2004, based mainly on its tendency to run off into drinking water. A similar move by the EPA would cut into Syngenta’s profits in the United States, where atrazine sells briskly as an herbicide for our massive corn crop.
      hough he denies being a hired gun for Syngenta, Entine cuts an odd figure as an independent ally of atrazine. Since 2003, he has been listed as a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the pro-business, anti-regulation think tank. Entine told me that he organized a 2009 conference on pesticides for AEI,
      moderating a panel featuring a Syngenta researcher;

    • Jonnie Spooner

      You just saw a report on India. Well done. It’s patently obvious you know nothing at all about that country. Shiva is saying ‘they’ are NOT doing things the ‘right way’ and that is why there are serious problems like malnourishment. She is also saying that ‘THEIR’ problems are compounded by western policies and western agribusiness through its control of the WTO and its writing of the KIA (do you even know what that is?). She or
      what she is advocating is not the cause as you like to falsely propagate. Your ignorance of India and the issues affecting it is astounding. And it says a lot about Wager, the apologist for the GM sector, that he would vote up your post. You
      deserve each other.

      • Eric Bjerregaard

        It’ patently obvious that you do not understand that the farmers that repeatedly buy g.e. seeds know more about farming than the liar this article is about. or your self’

        • Jack Tanner

          Back to the insults Eric (liar). Yes because they have ‘free choice’ don’t they?

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            jack, there comes a point when something is established as fact. When someone knowingly accepts 40 grand a pop to lie the person is a liar. Not an insult, a fact. The only alternative is that shiva is so stupid she does not know the truth. https://ksj.mit.edu/tracker/2013/03/demolishing-myth-monsantos-engineered-cr/ http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/nov/05/gmcrops-india So, which is it? Your choice. I will limit myself to stupid or liar based on your decision. Remember now she has degrees. So stupid seems to be a long shot. And I looked up nongmo seed suppliers in India. There are some.

          • Jack Tanner

            Forget about the 40K. Receiving that does not make her a liar. You are bringing that up to inject emotion into your argument. If she received nothing and still lied, it would make her no more or less of a liar. As I see it, she does not say GM cotton is the sole reason for suicides. She acknowledges that farmer suicides in India have gone on for many decades but spiked in the late nineties as MNCs entered the Indian seed market and later could be more precisely related to GM cotton. Here is what she says and what she bases her concusions on: http://www.navdanya.org/blog/?p=744.

            She is not a ‘liar’. You might question her evidence, but such questioning would not be unique to her and her claims. Moreover, you provide a link. In response, I would offer that a Cambridge University study last year associated farmer suicides in India with economic liberalisation, planting (GM) crops for export and indebtedness. Despite how you like to paint her, she is not a liar and she is not stupid. So I reject your simplistic, one-sided portrayal of her.

          • But it didn’t spike in the 90s or with the introduction oF GM crops. it’s actually trending down, and farmer suicudes as a percentage of population and yield is also trending diwn–and has been lower than other economically similar countries without GM. She’s a liar and demagogue, making up facts to suit her ideological agenda. disgraceful because she hurts the people she purportedly wants to help.

          • Jack Tanner

            My mistake (not hers). She doesn’t say it spiked in the 90s. She says it began to rise then. Maybe YOU should read that link, instead of calling her a liar. Maybe you should have read it before penning that article. You can challenge her data. Her analysis or conclusions might be open to question. But that is true of virtually every study ever conducted. It doesn’t make them ‘liars’ – only if they stand on the ‘wrong side’ of the gm debate it seems. And many scientists have found that to their cost.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Right, “many scientists” Are you sure you are not just referring to a some whose work turned out to be faulty? Please post some examples of these scientists.

          • Jack Tanner

            http://www.globalresearch.ca/gmo-researchers-attacked-evidence-denied-and-a-population-at-risk/5305324 But let me guess, you don’t like that website, Jeffrey Smith talks rubbish and all the scientists he mentions were plain ‘wrong’.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Yes, That is correct. The article has been debunked so many times that, quite frankly I am surprised to see it again. So, http://academicsreview.org/reviewed-content/genetic-roulette/section-1/1-1-pusztais-flawed-claims/ Here is for Pusztai, a guy that destroyed his own career. Why? Serralini I can do without any links. By simply pointing out his posting of pics of test group rats with tumors and not those of the control groups with roughly the same tumors. This reflects a clear intent to incite fear and deceive the public. And you can find the rest with a simple google search. The only question left to answer is. What is your agenda that causes you to pretend to believe this propaganda?

          • Jack Tanner

            Big on name calling aren’t you. I think you accused someone else of doing that on here.

            ‘She’s a liar and a demagogue, making up facts to suit her ideological agenda.’ Care to comment on that MJ piece that Pacific Weather brought up?

            You are the disgrace my friend. Nothing more than a PR arm of the industry.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            And there it is the shill accusation from the guy with no proof. And you wanted me to drop the 40K fee.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            In addition to Jon’s accurate remarks. I did not bring up the 40k. Further I will only drop it when all shill accusations towards myself, journalists and scientists are dropped by folks opposing g.e. crops. Truth is sometimes simplistic. Allow me to give an example. You mentioned that I “provided a link” I provided 2. Therefore I know you did not even look at the links. Very simple. I reject your false contention that shiva is not a liar.

          • Jack Tanner

            Wrong. You DID bring up the 40k to me in our discussion (forget Entine mentioning it – you chose to bring it up here).

            I have not accused you of being a shill either. I keep any such thoughts (if I hold them) to myself. So don’t muddy the waters – deal with me – not with anyone else. And don’t accuse me of not reading your links,

            I read The Guardian before you posted it here. Did you go through Shiva’s stats on that link and attempt to verify them or analyse what she is saying there? You must be a quick worker to have got back to me so fast. Or do you think that just repeating that she is ‘a liar’ is sufficient? Yes ‘the truth’ does indeed seem very simplistic to you.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            No, Jon brought it up. Your allies always make the accusation. The 40 K stands. I am a quick worker and I have posted the refutations of shiva’s lies over and over again. That is why it is quick. Just go back to the graph in the article It shows the truth. I shouldn’t have bothered to cite the links.

  • Loren Eaton

    Talking points? And your post full of what, exactly?

  • Loren Eaton

    “On her arrival two years ago, Shiva was an exotic unknown—a “rock star in the global battle over genetically modified seeds”, in the words of journalist Bill Moyers.”
    If by that he means that Shiva is to science and agriculture what Milli Vanilli is to rock….then okay!!

    • Judy Nonarchi

      Shiva is to science and agriculture what Reefer Madness is to marijuana. Or what Fox News is to world news.

    • brock2118

      Anything Bill Moyers is involved in should be automatically suspect. This is the guy who targeted staffers in the Goldwater campaign.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    And you cut an odd figure talking about atrazine instead of addressing the issues raised by Jon in this article.
    The issue of labeling has been covered over and ever again. Your question about it is not an honest one as you know the answer has to do with your and the leaders of the anti-g.e. movement’s desire to get g.e. crops banned. Not all Europeans are hysterics. Just the ones who lead the movement for labeling in spite of the recommendations of the EFSA.

    • Judy Nonarchi

      Additionally, labeling in the EU and Japan are different from the sloppy misleading measures turned down by voters in 4 US states, in that:
      1) In Europe, they actually list the specific GE trait / food modified;

      2) In Europe and Japan, there is not the 0% tolerance level that there has been in some states’ labeling legislation (even organic doesn’t require 0% level of GE!). European countries allow 0.5% (half on one%), and Japan allows 5%.

      Apples to oranges.

      • Tomas Moravec

        EU allows 0,9% of GM admixture as long as it is unintentional. More details on EU rules can be found here: http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/regulation/labelling/96.labelling_gm_foods_frequently_asked_questions.html

        • RobertWager

          Except the products made “with” GE derived ingredients. As only those products made “from” GE derived ingredients are labelled. The exempt food products are beer and wine, dairy and cheese. It is just a coincidence that Europe produces large amounts of these food produce “with” or is it “from” GE derived ingredients, right?

          • Tomas Moravec

            Yup, correct. It surely is a very “useful” coincidence:)

          • First Officer

            I’m curious on how do they determine a shipload of refined sugar is made with or without GMO derived materials.

          • agscienceliterate

            Good question! Most sugar in the US is from gmo sugar beets. When processed, there is zero protein, and thus zero gmo DNA, in the sugar. Yet these would be required for labeling in all the recent bills.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Correct, so testing and documentation would be required at every step of the way. Yet still there would likely be at least some fraud and errors. So, the labeling would force prices up and the effectiveness might be questionable.

          • Jackson

            When processed, there is zero protein, and thus zero gmo DNA, in the sugar

            Fixed.

    • Jonnie Spooner

      No not an odd figure. He is raising a valid point about the credibility of this author.

  • Eric Bjerregaard

    “Eco Goddess?????” Who came up with that erroneous description? I have noticed that the headline writers union of the world could use better writers.

    • Wackes Seppi

      Not all gods are nice, gentle and well-behaving…

    • Jonnie Spooner

      Must have been Entine because it’s in his opening paragraph.

  • Judy Nonarchi

    Pacific weather, would you also support our “right to know” that many types of organic seeds are created through mutagenesis? (chemical blasting, and/or irradiation; both with unpredictable results and no oversight)
    No?
    Why not?

    • agscienceliterate

      I’m still waiting for a response to my question from the anti-gmo activists. When this question is asked, they slink off into the espresso bar at Whole Foods and bury their faces in a comic book.

  • She’s a fraud, charlatan and a snake oil sales woman. Yet, a fool and their money are soon parted listening to this liar.

    • Brian Sandle

      A bandwaggon of attackers have been saying her Doctor of Philosophy degree is just in Philosophy. She had been working on the early fast breeder in India with her physics degree but chose to go to Canada to study theoretical physics. Going from physics to quantum physics you learn strange things such as particles or photons that have gone far apart still have characteristics as if they are in contact.

      Sensible for Vandana to go into theoretical physics. Her PhD thesis: http://alpha.lib.uwo.ca/record=b1770869. (205 leaves) seems very much physics. Related material: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_nonlocality

      • NRGuest

        Funny, I didn’t see the words biology, genetics, agriculture, biochemistry, physiology, or pathology anywhere in your post.

        She may know a lot about physics, but that does not mean she understands genetics or biochemistry.

        • Brian Sandle

          There can be transfer of learning. Quantum mechanics and nonlocality help us to think about connections that are not immediately obvious. Trained to get a nuclear breeder reactor started, and so proud she told her sister who is a medical doctor who reminded her about radiation sickness. Note the nuclear submarine anemia of the time. So she got into theoretical physics. She’d be looking more widely for other missing safety aspects and interactions in the world. Physicists can be nuisance thinkers like that. Of course biophysics is a subject.

          In the same way she was trained about nuclear engineering without safety she would recognise the same process in genetic engineering.

          • I think that pop psychoanalysis seems a bit like desperately trying to find vindication for the silly Shiva = physicist thing. Her QM non-locality / everything connected line is also pretty facile stuff — sure, many things are connected both in and out of quantum mechanics; now how does that truism help to analyse anything? Trade/nutrition/ecology are not connected in a quantum way: it offers no insight beyond the one-liner. Nuclear safety also has nothing to do with interpretation of quantum mechanics, and again is hardly an “insight” that one needs to be a physicist to make (indeed, in my experience physicists tend to be more blase than the rest of the population, including nuclear engineers, when it comes to nuclear safety, because we think we understand it). Really the whole “physicist” thing is a complete red herring… it just gets repeated because it’s wrongly taken to convey intelligence and expertise. I know plenty of idiot theoretical physicists… I think not including myself, but who knows ;-)

            The only objective way to judge Vandana Shiva’s arguments on eco matters is to compare them to data, of which there is plenty. On that basis, as repeatedly reported here and in the Specter piece, it’s clear that she either doesn’t know what she’s talking about and is spouting a fantasy ideological narrative, or is cynically telling a counterfactual sob-story because she knows that’s what gets followers on board. Why anyone with genuinely good intentions and a ~scientific background would continue to campaign using long-debunked myths is a mystery to me — when you go against the facts, chances are that you’re more a problem than a solution.

          • Brian Sandle

            To get PhD in physics or anything you have to have some understanding of validity. The connectedness I think is a way to get ordinary people the notion that things may not be as unconnected as they seem.

            Vandana was trained to work on getting a fast breeder reactor going. She was very proud and told her sister (a medical physician) who pulled her up on her lack of knowledge about safety. That started a quest for better..

            Are you a global warming denier?

            As a physicist you probably do not understand correlations less than 1 so much, or perhaps partial correlations, partialling out variables. So Vandana will have had to take that leap, too.

            Insert a gene, a vector and a promoter,into a plant but it is not simple. The promoter does not just promote the intended protein expression but other stuff, too, which may be why rats grow too fast on GMO food. And when you give steroids to promote growth the bones get a spurt but cap off too soon.

            Please list your “myths.”

          • I mentioned the articles that debunk several oft-repeated Shiva tropes. Number 1 is the “Indian farmer suicides” claim, which is about as debunked as anything gets, yet she continues to assert it. In fact, *this* article specifically contains explicit debunking of regular Shiva claims: do you have an issue with any of those?

            I don’t understand the “are you a global warming denier?” question. No, I’m not. Why is that relevant? I’m also not sure why you think that physicists wouldn’t be familiar with “correlations less than 1” — we spend a great deal of time working with covariance matrices. This still has roughly bugger all to do with understanding ecosystems beyond the triviality that complex systems are complex. That is not the same thing as being unmanageable, and GMO regulation, testing, field trials, etc. are all performed with that systemic complexity in mind.

            Do you have a reference to a high-quality study for “rats grow too fast on GMO food”? That’s in direct contradiction to everything I’ve seen, which generally concludes that, when corrected for other factors, GMO food is indistinguishable from conventional. (There is no such thing as generic “GMO food”, of course — specific traits are introduced case by case — so a fair comparison would be between a conventional crop and a GMO equivalent of the same species whose engineered traits are non-nutritional, e.g pesticide production or resistance rather than enhanced nutritional content.)

          • Brian Sandle

            Your number 1. You have not been reading the other articles on the thread. I believe the extra suicides are recorded as accidents. Otherwise why the huge increase in accidents in recentish years?

            I replied to Pat Burke

            22 days ago

            In the 2007-2008 season Indian cotton exports peaked and there was a
            1% reduction in accidental death rate in India, As opposed to increases
            2006 5.2, 2007 6.8, 2009 2.7, 2010 6.2

          • Interesting, I don’t see those numbers in the thread above… but what do they represent? It looks like 2009 was a one-off decrease for some reason, otherwise the numbers are jittering around 5.5-6.5 whatever the units are. Where did you get this from and what does it mean?

            Any connection of increased accident rates to GMOs or accusations that GMO salespeople are roaming India to hide suicide stats seems pretty speculative/fanciful, though, unless you have any evidence for those: do you? If there is a genuine increase in accident rates it would of course be good to know where it’s coming from, but I don’t see any clear pattern in the numbers you gave (whatever they represent).

            I also asked for a reference for your statement that “GMO food makes rats grow too fast”. Do you have a solid basis for that?

          • Brian Sandle

            This thread is not in date order. Click on extra articles below.

            I hypothesise the one off decrease in the accident rate in 2009 was as a result of the cotton exports in the 2007-2008 year.which was a peak over the years.

            Might see if I can trace my refs tomorrow..

          • Brian Sandle
          • You “believe” wrong. India government has addressed this. Facts are facts. Shiva is lying.

          • Brian Sandle

            Jon, I’d be interested to see the explanation for the large increases in the accidental death rate in India, except for the one year after the bumper cotton crop export.

          • Antumbra

            Accidents.

          • Brian Sandle

            My suspicion is that suicides are being listed as accidents because suicides do not look good when you are trying to promote a product.

          • Your suspicion is not supported by the facts. There is no link between those who collect information in suicides and those “promoting a product. The Induan government and it’s sub agencies are not promoting anything.

          • Brian Sandle

            I’ve been trying to thin of another explanation.

            Usually when a bit more money comes in as it would after a good export there would be more fun and games and accidents.

          • Fine, but you’ve presented no evidence. You posted some numbers (basically stable with time around 5.5-6.5 except for one year) but didn’t explain what they meant. What are they, and where do they come from? I suspect there are a whole bunch of possible innocuous explanations before “evil GMO conspiracy to suppress suicide reporting” becomes plausible.

          • Brian Sandle

            Try this for GMO feeding studies: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/applications/Documents/A1097-FeedingStudies.zip

            I was going through it fairly fast trying to get a submission out on time. It’s an image file so not searchable and I don’t remember whcih page, but I copied out this: “From report MSL-18711 Job/Project sb-2003-0002 September 26
            2003 Title: An acute Oral Toxicity Study in Mice with E. coli-produced
            Cry3Bb1.pvzmir39 Protein, (submitted with this application) it says in
            the abstract: “Body weight was increase (p,0.05) on Day 7 for the test
            protein males compared to the the vehicle control and on Day 14 for the
            test protein females compared to the vehicle control. Additionally, body
            weight change for the Day 0 to Day 7 interval was significantly
            increased (p,0.01) for both test protein males and females compared to
            the respective protein control groups. No significant differences were
            observed in food consumption during the study”

          • It’s interesting to look at that document, as a nice example of where just quoting statistical test p-values does not really give a feel for what’s going on. p < 0.05 significance sounds sort of impressive, but all that test is doing is telling whether the means of the distributions are compatible. I've attached a rough plot of the difference in male control vs. test mouse masses at 14 days using the means and standard deviations that they give: hardly dramatic, is it?

            Still, there was a (pretty weak) difference between the means of the control and test distributions so it's worth thinking a little about where it could come from. It's worth noting that the "control" and "test" groups did not receive identical doses of the same protein from GM and non-GM sources: the control was fed a "bovine standard albumen" protein instead. And the experimentally confirmed dose of the control was much further below the target than was the case for the test sample.

            I don't know if these are good explanations, or if there are others, but this was not an experiment to measure body mass differences: it was an acute toxicity test. Mass differences were an adjunct outcome, and since no signs of toxicity were observed they just mentioned the reported statistical deviations and moved on. An experiment to test the effect of GM Cry3Bb1 protein vs non-GM Cry3Bb1 on mouse masses would be designed rather differently.

            Anyway, more importantly, this is a total of 10 mice per sample, in a study that wasn't primarily looking at weight gain effects, in a study of one GM engineered protein. In fact, not that they were not even fed the genetically engineered corn which contains this protein, because there wasn't sufficient protein in it to run an experiment. This is not a test of a GM food, but of a protein variant produced in an E. coli large-scale fermentation system (see pages 34-36 of this summary report: http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/gmfp/docs/FAR_A548_GM_Corn.pdf ). I can't begin to express how huge a distance it is from one low-stats side-observation, in mice, in an experiment not representative of food consumption and testing one isolated protein, which didn't even involve any GMO food, to saying "GMO food makes [mice] grow too fast". If you need more evidence for that, here's another summary report on a similar protein, from the FSANZ again: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/documents/TRX%20A416%20Corn.pdf It reports (p17) "the study showed no statistically significant differences in group mean body weights, cumulative weight gains or food consumption in any of the groups."

            Nice cherry-picking!

          • Heh, seems the Disqus system is a bit screwed up when it comes to image attachments. The last plot with the proper label is the relevant one. I’m not going to try and explain why there’s a picture of a urinal in a French particle physics institute ;-)

          • Brian Sandle

            The urinal night be a reminder to adjust your explanation to include sex differences.

          • Brian Sandle

            “An experiment to test the effect of GM Cry3Bb1 protein vs non-GM Cry3Bb1 on mouse masses would be designed rather differently.” That would be interesting but remember no farmer would use the same amount of applied Bt toxin, which is throughout the engineered plant. They only use it when needed and apply it to the surface of the plant where it may be washed off. Attempts to avoid pest resistance developing mean a number of Bt events are stacked and promoted to express at high level. So then it is not just the difference between the GM and non-GM Cry proteins, it is the measure of what other genes are being expressed more strongly by the promoter. In the Food Standards Australia ref you give, palmitic and stearic acids are expressed more strongly and oleic less.

          • Brian Sandle

            “*this* article specifically contains explicit debunking of regular Shiva claims: do you have an issue with any of those?”

            “she’s a philosopher of science, but has no professional hard science background”

            In India do they let people help develop fast breeder reactors without professional hard science background?

            “Golden Rice, in development in the Philippines, has been genetically
            engineered with enhanced production and accumulation of β-carotene in
            the grains.”

            Golden Rice had hardly any carotene. As for Golden Rice 2 there were unethical testing processes and it has not been released. “Critics note that discrepancies remain over the full details of the trial. For instance, the
            CDC’s investigation revealed that the children ate Golden Rice just
            once during the study — and not lunch every day during the three-week
            study as the paper states.” I wonder what made them do that. Are they failing to disseminate findings of trouble? http://www.nature.com/news/china-sacks-officials-over-golden-rice-controversy-1.11998?WT.ec_id=NEWS-20121211

      • Lee

        Yet a simple BA in Philosophy is enough for the leader of the GLP and his many opinions? LMAO.

      • Her PhD was in philosophical interpretation of quantum mechanics, awarded by the philosophy department. It includes some technical quantum mechanics although the only solo paper I can find online is technically very basic. At a push it lies somewhere between the two fields. This ground has been gone over umpteen times and is anyway totally irrelevant to whether her position on agriculture etc. has any validity.

        • Brian Sandle

          A library holding for her thesis I repeat for you: http://alpha.lib.uwo.ca/record=b1770869

          • Sorry, what’s the point? I looked at the link: it’s a record that a thesis with a stated title about QM exists in the library. No abstract, no full text, so I can’t tell any more.

            I don’t doubt that she has a PhD thesis connected to quantum mechanics; equally, I don’t doubt that it was awarded by the philosophy dept; and double-equally, I think it’s pretty much 100% irrelevant for any discussion of Vananda Shiva’s eco-activist ideas and work. This just feels like repeating what I said above — do you have a specific point in re-pointing to the uni library record?

  • Brian Sandle

    Suicide is illegal in India so puts the debt on the family. The deaths may be listed as accidental poisoning. Also figures sent in by local police may be adjusted when a GMO company persuades them that figures looking good is better.

    • Wackes Seppi

      Where did you get that from?

      Aren’t there State schemes that provide
      financial relief to the families of farmers who have committed
      suicide?

      Should we have to understand that GMO
      companies would scout the countryside to bribe police officers each
      time a suicide has been reported to those officers, right in time to
      prevent them to report the death as a suicide?

      • Brian Sandle

        Weather has been changing. The GMO crops do not match up to what was promised. They are not resilient under drought conditions like the old crops. Because of failed crops farmers cannot pay the debts incurred buying the seeds and herbicide. The government will pay a one off grant of $400 to $800 but that is possibly only about one sixth of the farmer’s debt.
        They go to loan sharks and things get worse.

        A recent AlJazeera film showed widows trying to pay debt to loan sharks.

        I believe the GMO selling agents will have strict instructions to give the GMO crops the best image they can. An accident will look better than a suicide. Whether its bribes or just friends I would not know.

        Some South American farmers are rejecting GMOs and Monsanto profits have taken a big drop.

        • Pat Burke

          “Also figures sent in by local police may be adjusted when a GMO company persuades them that figures looking good is better.”
          And, “An accident will look better than a suicide. Whether its bribes or just friends I would not know.”
          Lets see the evidence you obviously must have to be making such claims. Or is this yet another demonstration of the anti-gmo version of, “Lying For Jesus”.

          • Brian Sandle

            In the 2007-2008 season Indian cotton exports peaked and there was a 1% reduction in accidental death rate in India, As opposed to increases 2006 5.2, 2007 6.8, 2009 2.7, 2010 6.2

        • hyperzombie

          So Brian you are saying that 8 million Indian farmers are stupid, because they buy GMO cotton year after year….That is a pretty ballsy claim.

          • Jonnie Spooner

            You need to educate yourself and stop spouting half-baked nonsense laced with vitriol that I see all over the net. There is no or very little choice once all other options have been taken off the market or have been made inaccessible. And that is the case with cotton in many regions of India. Here’s something to help focus your mind. http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=8109. However, I suspect anything that undermines your neoliberal platitudes about ‘free choice’ will just be dismissed out of hand.

          • hyperzombie

            Funny, that story is from ’07 and since cotton farmers in India still grow 98% GMO cotton. Once again you are calling 98% of all Indian cotton farmers stupid, about 8 million farmers.
            Farmers in India have lots of choice, and they choose GMO.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            I hate to stun you on a Sunday, but I looked up nongmo seeds sold in India and found actually companies selling such stuff.

          • hyperzombie

            Well of course there is non GMO, all the specialty cottons (extra long fiber and short fiber) are non gmo. Aslo you can still get regular cotton in non GMO. Hardly surprising.
            Just like here in NA you can still get Non GMO corn, canola, and soy.

          • It’s always persuasive to call someone names and cite as “evidence”an 8 year old blog post from a fringe website with zero journalistic, agricultural or science credibility. All of science cries ‘uncle.’

          • Jonnie Spooner

            This from a person who writes a one-sided smear piece and, unlike me, actually does indulge in name calling (eco-warrior goddess). But I’m not here to argue Shiva’s case.

            I have not called anyone ‘names’ here. I’ve only said in another post that Wager is an apologist. That is not ‘name calling’. An apologist is a person who defends a faith, cause, idea or institution. (You know, as in the title used by Tom Philpott for his revealing MJ article on you ‘The making of an agribusiness apologist’)

            And My previous comment is directed towards ‘hyperzombie’. That person specializes in ‘name calling’ and abuse across the net when attempting to discuss GMOs. So I’m afraid your attempt to discredit me on that basis is unfortunate and invalid. Strange you should attempt to pull me up over this then let the comment by ‘montana 83’ go unchallenged at the bottom of this thread.

            As far as the issue of choice is concerned, I posted the previous link to counter the claim put forward by some that farmers have ‘free choice’ and by implication bt cotton cannot therefore be held responsible for farmers’ problems in India. That is a naive and simplistic claim that is underpinned by (neoliberal) ideology. And it must therefore be challenged. For your information (and for the ill-informed person called ‘hyperzombie’), here’s a link to a 2012 paper to highlight the problems with the issue of ‘choice’: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03066150.2012.709847?journalCode=fjps20#.VOB-f_msVqo

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            “one sided smear piece” The truth about this nasty goddess is not a smear.

          • Jack Tanner

            “The truth”. Sure. Entine is highly selective in his evidence and in presenting his argument in a way that overlooks Shiva’s wider analysis. For instance, she never said the ‘green revolution’ didn’t ‘succeed’ in boosting yields (temporarily at least). Look at the situation in Punjab today, where the GR was first implemented. It’s very revealing.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Please provide this wider analysis.

          • Jack Tanner

            She’s written books on it, done countless interviews and written endless articles outlining her stance and her analysis pertaining to the situation in India. You must be aware of it. If not, the onus is on you to read about it. That’s why I threw in the it about Punjab. It encapsulates the folly of what happened in India, decades on from the implementation of the GR there.

          • agscienceliterate

            And she’s not deserving of the nickname “goddess.” She is anything but. She is an evil panderer of myth, reaping in money while millions live in hunger.

          • Eric Bjerregaard

            Not just ballsy. Also a stupid claim.

        • Wackes Seppi

          « Weather has been changing… »?

          You are changing track!

          And you are rolling out myths.

          In the case of India, we are not
          talking about « GMO crops », but solely GM COTTON.

          There is no reason whatsoever why GM
          cotton should be less resilient or less adapted to cultivation under
          drought conditions. The currently available GM hybrids (several
          hundreds) offer enough choice for the grower to find the one(s) fit
          for cultivation under his particular conditions. If not, he can
          still resort to the non-GM varieties.

          GM cotton is Bt, i.e. resistant to the
          bollworm. There is no special link with herbicides. Of course, if
          the crop fails, the grower loses all his investment. That holds true
          whether the crop is GM or not.

          « … a one off grant of $400 to
          $800 but that is possibly only about one sixth of the farmer’s
          debt… » This is in part speculation on your part, an attempt
          to escape the true question and rescue your argument.

          « They go to loan sharks and
          things get worse »?

          No, it is not « things get
          worse ». It is a – if not « the » – major
          issue.

          « A recent AlJazeera film showed
          widows trying to pay debt to loan sharks »?

          Anecdotal evidence, at best. What link
          with Bt cotton? And a link to the film would have been useful.

          « I believe the GMO selling
          agents… » ?

          Facts, please! And so what? Do you
          think farmers are fools?

          « Some South American
          farmers… »

          The subject was Bt cotton in India.

  • montana83

    Is that a bullseye on her forehead or a dunce tattoo?

    • Brian Sandle

      Can’t front up with the arguments so goes for cultural abuse.

  • Sunita

    And how much money are you getting for this article Mr. Jon. Why don’t u experiment the gmo food on ur body first? Stop lying!

  • Concerned.

    $40,000 a speech. More exploitation And greed. Sick.

  • Anand Ashiya

    Iam from Bangalore in India and visiting NY right now on holiday – on a family visit to my daughter . I remember attending Vandana Shiva seminars in field of Disability ( I was working with the visually impaired at that time ) in early nineties in star hotels to make a living . Since she lived in Bangalore at that time . Iam not surprised that she has deceptive fields to represent now . It is an effort to create a place for oneself by any means to reach to get attention – reflected glory . A creation of the media hype .This is my personal opinion about the diva representing – disability , physics , and the GMO I think the ethics got thrown to winds some where . Sorry Vandana , but ,the impression I got after attending the first seminar – I am proved right .

  • Dave Smith

    I apologize on behalf of all Indians for setting Vandana Shiva loose upon the world.
    She’s done enough harm here. She got BT brinjal banned. Now she threatens to cripple American agriculture just like what she did back home.
    America, you have my condolences.

  • Brian Sandle

    What has happened to the 90 comments that were on this thread?

    • GLP added an SSL certificate, and the comment thread had to be linked to the updated URL with the new protocol. All comments should be back in place. Thank you!

  • Doug Hylton

    This woman is pure evil.