Intro to Vandana Shiva, via Strombo: The Humanity in Sustainable Farming, Part I

Vandana Shiva is compelling force of nature: a physicist, academic and environmental activist, her work is rooted in the importance of seed saving as a roust of maintaining sustainable agriculture and deviating from the perverse mentality that industrial agriculture has the right to “collect royalties from life.” I personally find her inspiring and a veracious leader within the sustainable agriculture conversation. This interview is a powerful introduction into her way of thinking. There are aspects of the conversation where she tiptoes on the line of generalization and speculation (for example, when she mentions wheat and gluten sensitivities); however, despite her impassioned and at times slightly visceral opinions, her passion and breadth of research and experience offers a powerful and intelligent voice worth listening to.

Top 3 Highlights from the Interview:

Diversity in Agriculture –

    In relationship to industrial farming and patented seeds, Shiva states that we cannot patent life or minimize the diversity in plant species cultivated, saying: “diversity increases food security… [and health of] bio-diversity,” and compares the practices of industrial agriculture – and conglomerate ownership of seeds and land – as the second coming of Columbus, saying it is [in respect to modern-day farming] “so easy to take away the humanity of those being colonized.”

Ecological Impact of Industrial Farming –

    During this part of the conversation, Shiva describes the impact of industrial agriculture from the perspective that it is an appendage of much larger system, where it cannot – functioning in its current capacity – sustain a harmonious and sustainable relationship with nature. Describing the perils of mono-crop growth, a specialty of Industrial Ag, she speaks to the mental inflictions involved in this particular business practice, and its removal of humanity: “Monoculture of the mind, prioritizes what it wants to exploit … cuts-off the impact of relations [in this] work & makes societies work. Food is a commodity, cows a milk machine.”

Using India as an example, she continues within this vein speaking to farmer suicides in India, crop failure related to patented seeds, and a dire need for land reform. Using Kerula as an example, a southern state of India, where (she implies) with the help of progressive government and land reform, Kerula has achieved negative population growth – a sign of economic security and stability. She quickly mentions the environmental impact of Industrial farming, stating that “40% of our carbon pollution is from industrial farming,” and mentions protests in India regarding water. She believes these things are directly correlated.

On Women and the Future of Humanity –

    “If we are going to have a future it has to be a womanly future. And, Gandhi said a prayer everyday – he was a man – make me more womanly. Being womanly is not just about women, it is about our humanity.” She continues by exclaiming the importance of person hood, rather than the greed and assimilation of culture that can come from irresponsible corporate governance over land, seeds, culture and bio-diversity. She finishes her interview by saying, “The idea of person hood is love and care and compassion.” She is a beautiful and powerful voice.

Share with me your thoughts on this interview, even other lectures, videos, or articles by her that you have experienced and read. Email me at  There will be a Part II for this post where I look to answer a few of my own questions. Cheers!