Vandana Shiva Argues Against the “Green Revolution”
During the last few decades, we have seen some major changes in numerous fields of human life – including agriculture, which has seen significant development. Plantations have returned significantly more crops as they have been transformed through the introduction of chemicals and fertilizers. You have probably already heard about the “Industrial Revolution”, but how much do you know about its green cousin?
The “Green Revolution” is the global agricultural transformation that occurred between 1940 and 1960. The revolution started in the United States of America and spread to other countries, raising food production in ways that was never seen before. The period is characterized by the modernization of farming techniques through the use of new machinery and the improvement of irrigation infrastructures.
Farmers started to use chemicals – such as fertilizers and pesticides – that increased the production of food. Being at the base of other economic sectors, the agricultural revolution boosted the development of a large variety of industries, supporting the expansion of a globalized economy that we see today.
The application of economic models to agricultural practices led to a new way of seeing the food production as if it was an industry or an enterprise, focusing on money and on a mass scale production. However, specialists around the world now considers that this approach as obsolete and cite the necessity for a Second Green Revolution, to make farming more sustainable and ensure high production over the long term. Fears are that under current practices, yields will fall and food prices will rise.
The Indian Green Revolution
But what about India? The Indian Green Revolution began in 1960 and boosted the country’s economy. The American agronomist Norman E. Borlaug and the Indian Geneticist M.S. Swaminathan are considered to be the “Fathers” of the Indian Green Revolution. They introduced a wide diversity of seeds, increased in the use of fertilizers, and helped implement state of the art irrigation systems. This made India self-sufficient in food production for the first time in generations and disproved Malthusian pessimists who predicted an apocalyptic collapse of the population.
But not everything has been positive. The use of fertilizers and pesticides brought some negative effects, such as soil and land degradation. The overall impact of the Green Revolution was studied by the social and environmental activist Vandana Shiva. She analyzes the pros and the cons of India’s agricultural development in the book “The Violence of The Green Revolution”.
Described as “one of the world’s most prominent radical scientists” by The Guardian, Vandana Shiva wrote a scientific book, settled into an epistemological position that aims to give solutions to current problems by applying the latest Gene Revolution technology, and warning against the environmental and social dangers of an unsustainable growth based on profit.
She argues in favor of a green alternative in food production and criticizes the destruction of the genetic diversity, together with the loss of soil fertility as a direct result of uncontrolled agricultural growth. “The Violence of The Green Revolution” tries to spark a debate and draw attention to the necessity of a new revolution, based only on a healthy and sustainable model.
During a recent interview, Vandana Shiva criticized the excessive use of chemicals in agriculture. Through her research, she has demonstrated that there are more than 1,400 pesticides circulating in the food we eat. According to her, only 1% of the used pesticides act on the target pest, resulting in damage to our health, visible from the increase of people suffering from kidney failure, heart problems or various types of cancer.
If you want to learn more about Vandana Shiva’s views on this subject, read the book “The Violence of The Green Revolution” – you won’t regret it!
Vandana Shiva, the “Environmental Hero”
Vandana Shiva’s engagement in the areas of biodiversity, climate change and sustainable solutions won her respect and admiration all around the world. She is known for her role in protesting agricultural practices following the 1984 Punjab riots and the gas leak in Bhopal from Union Carbide’s pesticide manufacturing plant.
Till date she has published more than 20 books and was awarded numerous honors. The most important one was probably the Right Livelihood Award, considered as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”. The activist supports the ecofeminism movement, a philosophy that links feminism and ecology.
Vandana Shiva is one of the leaders of the International Forum on Globalization and is known for the participation in the Chipko Movement, during the 70’s. Her current focus is to fight patenting of indigenous plants, which she describes as “Biopiracy”. She argues for seed freedom and tries to dissociate agriculture from companies’ patents.