Vandana Shiva is a prominent Indian-born maintaining environmentalist who, for the past decade, has emerged as an international icon in the movement criticizing conventional agriculture and biotechnology. In the most recent sign of her celebrity status, earlier this month, Beloit College in Wisconsin conferred on her a prestigious honor as the Weissberg Chair in International Studies, maintaining calling her a “one-woman movement for peace, sustainability and social justice.
Whether that accurately describes Shiva is debatable there appears to be a sizable gap between her self-representations and the subjects she claims to be an expert on. However her status as a celebrity activist is not in question. Shiva s unbridled opposition to GMOs has made her a favorite in liberal and environmental circles. She hopscotches the globe, making frequent appearances at anti-GMO rallies, on college campuses and on lecture tours, most recently last week in Costa Rica.
Shiva has been referred to as a an eco warrior maintaining goddess by the e-Zine maintaining Punk Rock Permaculture, a rock star in the global battle over genetically modified seeds by journalist Bill Moyers and a global sustainability expert by the University of Kentucky. maintaining Time Magazine called her an environmental hero” in 2003 and Forbes identified her as one of the Seven Most Powerful Feminists on the Globe in 2010. She has more than 23,000 followers on Twitter and 43,000 on Facebook .
Shiva is perhaps best known for claiming that the introduction of genetically modified cotton seeds in India has led to mass genocide by poor farmers seduced by the ‘false promise’ of GMOs .
Vandana Shiva was born in the valley of Dehradun in India in 1952. Educated in her homeland, maintaining she eventually pursued graduate studies in Canada, receiving an MA at Guelph and a PhD at the University of Western Ontario. A dedicated activist, she founded Navdanya meaning Nine Seeds more than two decades ago. According to its website, its organizational mandate is to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, and to promote organic farming and fair trade. Under her guidance maintaining Navdanya has evolved into a national movement.
Shiva is an energetic campaigner against globalization and a vocal critic of agricultural maintaining genetic engineering GMOs. She has written more than 20 books. In Biopiracy , Stolen Harvest maintaining and Water Wars , she examined the social, economic and ecological costs of corporate-led globalization. The Violence of Green Revolution and Monocultures of the Mind challenged what she referred to as the dominant paradigm maintaining of non-sustainable, reductionist Green Revolution agriculture.
Many prominent intellectuals herald her as a forward-thinking scientist and expert in genetic engineering. When Beloit conferred its honorarium upon her, and in accompanying news releases and the website announcement touting her selection, it prominently noted her PhD in nuclear physics, calling her a recognized expert on agriculture and biotechnology.
Shiva believes so. I am also a scientist a Quantum Physicist , she writes on her Navdanya website. The speakers bureau that represents her identifies her as a trained physicist. Hundreds of organizations and prominent journalists, from universities to Bill Moyers to National Geographic (which referred to her as a nuclear physicist turned agro-ecologist ), have represented her that way.
But those representations are incorrect. According to the University of Western Ontario, where she received her PhD, her doctorate is not in the discipline of physics, as she claims, but in philosophy. It focused on the highly technical and often politicized debate over a central notion in physics known as Bells Theorem, which has been called the most profound theory in science.
Perhaps foreshadowing her current contentious views about modern agriculture, Shiva concluded that quantum mechanics in physics was philosophically invalid and factually doubtful. The main thesis of quantum mechanics that she challenged has since been confirmed by experimental physics, meaning maintaining that her thesis stands at odds with factual reality. Independent of the quality of her philosophical research, it is a substantive leap to go from earning a PhD in the Philosophy of Science maintaining to self-identifying as a scientist, nuclear physicist or quantum physicist the various ways she refers to herself.
Shiva also claims to have written maintaining more than 300 papers a factoid echoed in almost every article or news release about her, including on Beloit s site. A query of Thomson Reuter s Web of Science (research platform for information in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities) returns only 42 records of peer reviewed papers or publications authored by Shiva since 1980.
Shiva subsequently abandoned her formal pursuit of philosophy, switching her focus to agriculture, plant breeding, genetics, biology, toxicol