Dr Vandana Shiva is a well known environmentalist and biodiversity expert. She is also the director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy.
In a recent interaction with Dr Vandana Shiva who is more often known as a firece anti-GM activist, BioSpectrum tried to know the other side of the story. Happy reading!
■ Are you against all kinds of GMOs? Given the use of genetic engineering in pharma can be crucial for fighting many diseases, don't you think that opposing it is grossly unfair to patients?
Dr Shiva: Let me make this thing clear that I am only against the usage of GM in agriculture. I am not against the biotech industry or other non GM technologies associated with it. I feel that we are unnecessarily pushing for it. Leaving enough space for all to thrive freely and biodiversity has been embedded in our culture. There can be no debate on this fact. Incorporation of monoculture in agriculture, has over the period of time, given rise to increased rice production but at the cost of ignoring the millets. In Punjab, the biodiversity has suffered because of green revolution. I believe that those propagating Bt cotton as success, are not doing justice as the bollgard worm against which it was said to be effective, has become resistant.
People like Ms Kiran Mazumdar make drugs that are very much within the containment. These are such that it doesn't affect the larger environment. On the medicine part, I am not competent enough to draw any parallels with agriculture. But I am a scientist and can evaluate the claims made about the benefits offered by GM products in agriculture. And my analysis has been that we must not allow it without enough satisfactory biosafety tests.
■ What are your concerns with the biosafty? How do you justify your opposition?