Dr. Vandana Shiva is an Indian environmental activist, prolific author and philosopher who gained her doctorate in quantum theory. Her work now encompasses concerns for justice for the poorest victims of environmental degradation, particularly as a result of climate change, and for the resilience of the environment, with a focus on empowering women. She advocates strongly for diversity in cultural and ecological terms as the key to future sustainability especially in relation to food security on the Indian sub-continent. She campaigns for the protection of indigenous ecological knowledge, and the right to save and share seeds. To promote these aims she founded the Navdanya Research Foundation which supports a network of seed keepers and organic producers across India.
Vandana Shiva has received strong criticism from governmental and commercial organisations, including character assassination to impugn her moral integrity, because she resists technocratic and narrowly utilitarian solutions to food security. The main issue on which this criticism has been focused is that of her opposition to Golden Rice, which has been engineered to produce vitamin A, a deficiency found in nearly 3 million children across the world. Vandana Shiva argues that it is an illusory solution with harmful cultural impacts and unintended environmental consequences which ultimately undermines the food security and resilience of the farming societies that come to rely on it.
Vandana Shiva’s work raises important questions about the kind of global community as well as environment that we want to see. It addresses ethical and spiritual issues of power, justice and long-term global resilience, which the spheres of the market and politics, and even science in its own terms, are ill-equipped to engage with.