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Dr. Vandana Shiva


"Uniformity is not nature's way;
diversity is nature's way." -Shiva


Vandana Shiva was born on November 5, 1952 in Dehradun, India, an ancient city nestled within the Himalayan Mountains. With a forest conservationist father and farming mother, Shiva quickly developed a deep respect for nature. She attended St. Mary's School in Nainital and the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Dehradun, where she aspired to be a scientist. After receiving her B.S in Physics, she pursued a M.A. in philosophy at the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada). In 1979, she completed her Ph.D. in Quantum Theory Physics at the University of Western Ontario. (RFSTE)

With a strong physics background and a love of nature, Shiva began questioning how science technology impacted the environment, and started doing inter-disciplinary research in science, technology, and environmental policy at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore. In 1982, Shiva founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE), an institution concerned with biodiversity conservation. Nine years later, she founded Navdanya, which literally means “nine seeds,” to protect the diversity of native seeds. RFSTE and Navdanya encourage local farmers to reject political and economic pressures that may endanger India's natural biodiversity.

The author of 13 books and over 300 published papers, Shiva has spoken out against the “Green Revolution” of the 1970's, which aimed to alleviate hunger by improving crop performance with irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides, and mechanization. She states, “The Green Revolution was supposed to bring Western technology to the aid of Third World Farmers. But instead of wealth, the new high yielding seeds brought poverty and environmental destruction” (Wheat, 1995).

In addition to criticizing the Green Revolution, Shiva has internationally campaigned against Genetically Engineered Foods. She argues that genetically modified organisms (GMOs), such as herbicide resistant and Bt crops, increase the need for chemicals to combat resulting super weeds and super pests, decrease biodiversity through genetic pollution, and destroy farmers' freedom with patent monopolies and dependency on non-renewable seeds (Shiva, 2002). Shiva denounces the new “miracle” Golden Rice, developed to prevent blindness due to Vitamin A deficiency, which Shiva believes is a result of pesticides destroying “weeds” that had essential vitamins. Golden Rice, Shiva adds, is “based on a false premise,” since “it will meet less than one per cent of the required daily intake” (Shiva, 2000). Shiva has served as an advisor to many government organizations, in India and abroad, concerned with biotechnology and ecology. Dr. Vandana Shiva has received over 15 national and international awards for her contributions to ecology awareness and environment preservation, including the Earth Day International Award in 1993, and the International Award of Ecology in 1997. (RFSTE)

Sometimes labeled an “ecofeminist,” Shiva has also made several contributions in gender issues. She has published several books and articles with the goal of changing the perception of Third World women by recognizing their accomplishments.

What Others Have Said Of Shiva:

in praise...
"Shiva has devoted her life to fighting for the rights of ordinary people in India. Her fierce intellect and her disarmingly friendly, accessible manner have made her a valuable advocate for people all over the developing world." -Ms. Magazine, from the back cover of Shiva's Stolen Harvest

"A leading thinker who has eloquently blended her views on the environment, agriculture, spirituality, and women's rights into a powerful philosophy." -Utne Reader, from the back cover of Shiva's Stolen Harvest

in criticism...
"When it comes to humanity, this 'hero' has been downright villainous. Repeatedly, she has sought to block humanitarian food donations to desperate people, using any excuse available." -Michael Fumento, Alex Avery, and Dennis Avery of the Hudson Institute, in a letter to Time Magazine responding to Shiva's environmental hero award.

"Foes of genetically modified food are ultimately hurting people and the environment. Without the more productive varieties of rice introduced in India in the 1960s and '70s, much of that nation's population could not have been fed." -Michael Miersch in "False Friends," 2002.


Avery, A; Avery, D; Fumento, M. Vandana Shiva is No Hero. accessed with InfoTrac on 24 Jan. 2004 <>.

Miersch, M. (2002). False Friends. World Press Review. 49: 40-41.

Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology.
Short Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Vandana Shiva. accessed 20 Jan. 2004 <>.

Shiva, V. (2000). World in a Grain of Rice. The Ecologist. 30: 51.

Shiva, V. (2002). Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply. India Research Press, New Delhi, India.

Shiva, V. "Thought for Food." Earth Island Journal. 22 Dec. 2002. 21 Jan. 2004 <>.

Shute, J.C.M. (1993) Forward to Hopper Lecture. Understanding the Threats to Biological and Cultural Diversity. Universty of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario. <>

Wheat, S. (1995) Interview with Vandana Shiva, Environmental Activist - India. New Internationalist Magazine. accessed through Third World Traveler. 21 Jan. 2004. <>.

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