Heroes of Sustainable Agriculture Part 1: Dr. Vandana Shiva

Dr. Vandana Shiva is a contemporary hero for sustainable agriculture worldwide because of her leadership addressing the most significant ecological and social issues of our times. The nature of her activism and intellectual work span a wide range of topics all connected by underlying humanitarian interests; Shiva is associated with areas of environmental action including land, poverty, sustainable consumption, and traditional knowledge. In 1982 she founded the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, out of which many initiatives have emerged to promote ecological and social justice, economic and gender equality and human rights. (UNEP).

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Vandana Shiva was born in 1952 in India and earned her PhD studying quantum physics. She is an author of hundreds of published articles in academic and scientific journals, and dozens of books including: Water Wars, Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge; Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply; and The Violence of Green Revolution and Monocultures of the Mind. Beginning in the 1990’s Shiva began receiving many prestigious awards and recognition such as the “Right Livlihood Award” “…For placing women and ecology at the heart of modern development discourse.” (UNEP). She is currently a participant and leader in the International Forum on Globalization alongside Ralph Nader and others. (UNEP)

In the area of agriculture Shiva has contributed “intellectually and as an activist to the area of Intellecual Property Rights (IPR) and biodiversity.” (UNEP). This is important work to preserve the legal freedom of traditional wisdom around plant and herb use from companies who seek to privatize remedies known as folk medicine; she even serves on expert groups for IPR legislation. She has assisted groups in countries around the world in anti-GMO campaigns. Her work in these areas make her a champion of preserving biodiversity and social justice.

One of the organizations that Shiva has helped create is the organic farming program ‘Navdanya;’ “The main aim of the Navdanya biodiversity conservation programme is to support local farmers, rescue and conserve crops and plants that are being pushed to extinction and make them available through direct marketing.“ (UNEP). The Navdanya project is reflective of Shiva’s work to bring social justice to rural communities and small farmers, while displaying the abundant nature of diversity in agriculture. The success of the farm and seed bank at Navdanya is empowering people around the potential of rural farm life in India, and is attracting more young people out of the city and back into the village. This is an example of how Shiva’s efforts have impacted the growth and development of sustainable agriculture. (scottlondon).

Sources:

Who’s Who of Women and the Environment

Areas of Environmental Action:

Land, Poverty, Sustainable Consumption, Traditional knowledge

Summary of Achievements:

http://www.unep.org/women_env/w_details.asp?w_id=107

Interview with Vandana Shiva

http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/shiva.html

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