Viewpoint: Anti-biotech activist Vandana Shiva says GMO soy caused the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s why she’s wrong

| April 1, 2020
px Vandana Shiva Global Citizen Festival Hamburg
Vandana Shiva. Credit: Frank Schwichtenberg [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

In recent months, quacks and charlatans of all kinds have been rubbing their hands with glee, as a novel coronavirus …. brings the world to its knees.

Vandana [Shiva] is an Indian environmental activist and food sovereignty advocate who wags her finger at Western economic models and institutions …. Vandana has been fabricating a new story …. that the recent coronavirus outbreak was caused by GMO animal feed in China.

Earlier in the year, Vandana was a guest on a panel discussing, “What the experts want you to know about GMOs” at the Real Truth about Health summit in America. Vandana would have you believe that she has a PhD in physics, specialising in quantum theory, when in reality, she has a PhD in philosophy, with her thesis focusing on the philosophy of physics. She sat next to such distinguished experts as: Caitlin Shetterly, a woman who believes that she became sensitised to not just genetically modified corn but everything that eats it; Carey Gillam, author of the book “Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science”, which claims among other things that glyphosate (the active ingredient in RoundUp) causes Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (not shown to be the case in the scientific literature); and Jeffery Smith, whose only professional experience prior to taking up his crusade against biotechnology is as a ballroom dance teacher, yogic flying instructor, and political candidate for the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Natural Law Party. Smith also believes that chemtrails are part of Monsanto’s conspiracy to control the world food supply, and was a guest speaker at the 2012 Consciousness Beyond Chemtrails Conference.

Related article:  Vandana Shiva responds to Michael Specter's New Yorker profile

At the 23-minute mark …. Vandana takes the microphone from her fellow experts …. and begins making the most outrageous claims.

 

“I got a letter from a Chinese scientist when the SARS epidemic broke …. and he said, ‘We are feeding all our animals GMO soya and it could so easily be that this horizontal gene transfer is happening and the animals are developing super-viruses which are then jumping from animals to humans.’”

Her implication that SARS is the result of horizontal gene transfer between livestock and GMO soya is farcical. In late 2017, Chinese scientists traced the virus through the intermediary of civets to cave-dwelling horseshoe bats in Yunnan province. To the best of my knowledge, neither civets nor cave-dwelling horseshoe bats are domesticated animals and therefore won’t have a diet high in GMO soya.

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