*This webpage was created as a part of coursework for an undergraduate course at Davidson College.
Genetically Modified Organisms Homepage
<http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/~skarsten/holistic/keynote.html> (c) 2003 (Permission pending)
“Natural capitalism is based on respecting and learning from the natural order of things rather than trying to replace it with human cleverness.” -Satish Kumar
Who is Satish Kumar?
Born in India, Satish Kumar discovered his spiritual side very early on in life. He became a Jain monk at the age of nine. Influenced by the life of Mahatma Gandhi at eighteen years old, Kumar began a campaign to reform India . In 1962, the jailing of Bertrand Russel for protest against the nuclear bomb inspired Kumar to embark on an 8,000 mile peace pilgrimage from India to America (http://www.newdream.org/bulletin/kumar.html).
He moved to England in 1973 and was offered the editorship position for Resurgence (a magazine that focuses on ecological and spiritual thinking), although he had minimal writing experience. He then founded the Small School and co-founded Schumacher College. Both of these schools focus on ecology and spirituality. Currently, he is the Program Director of the college (Rottenberg, 1999).
Kumar has been awarded three honorary degrees. He has received the Honorary Doctorate in Education from the University of Plymouth in July 2000, the Honorary Doctorate in Literature from Lancaster University in July 2001, and the Jamnalal Bajaj International Award for promoting Gandhian values abroad in November 2001. (http://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/Teachers/Faculty.html#Satish).
Satish Kumar's Views on GMOs
Although Satish Kumar values science, he believes that there should be restrictions on certain areas of scientific study such as plant genetics. According to him, much of the advancements in science have been to the “detriment of the Earth and humanity”(Kumar, 2000). In his opinion, people should respect the environment and live a simple life instead of using science to manipulate nature for selfish reasons (Kumar, 2000).
Kumar encourages humans to value their natural capitalism and learn from it rather than try to change it. Natural capitalism is the “living world that provides [irreplaceable] resources and ecosystem services” (Lovins, 2000). Genetic modification is “unnatural capitalism” because it changes organisms from what they fundamentally are in their natural environment. He distinguishes traditional modes of agriculture as “adapting nature”, which is acceptable, whereas he identifies transgenics as changing crops from what they actually are. Altering the environment in this manner is an area of science that he feels humans are not yet able to “handle wisely” (Lovins, 2000).
According to Kumar, GMOs are unnecessary. Genetically modified seeds are said to help feed starving people; however, Kumar does not believe that food shortages are the cause of starvation. Instead, hunger is due to social injustice and economic exploitation. Prosperous countries throughout the world waste large amounts of food everyday. In addition, multinational corporations spend billions of dollars a day advertising their products as millions of people around the world are in need of food (Kumar, 2000). Kumar believes that inventions do not need to be made since the necessary supplies to address the needs of the world are already available, but just need to be used properly. Instead of mass production of crops through genetic modification, the adoption of a simple life with minimal reliance on technology is sufficient to sustain life (Lovins 2000).
Kumar, S. (2000). Soul Man. New Scientist 166, 2243-2246.
Lovins, A. (2000). Natural Capitalism. Resurgence 1, 198-202.
Rottenberg, D. (1999). A Walk Can Change the World. Earth Action 10, 4.
Schumacher College Homepage. Nov. 2003. Schumacher College. 25 Jan. 2004. <http://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/Teachers/Faculty.html#Satish>.
The Center for a New Dream Homepage. Jan 2004. Center for a New Dream. 25 Jan. 2004. <http://www.newdream.org/bulletin/kumar.html>.
University of Ontario Keynotes Speaker Page. August 2003. University of Ontario. 30 Jan. 2004. <http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/~skarsten/holistic/keynote.html>.
Contact Helen N.
Created January 30, 2004