Stolen Harvest, Vandana Shiva

Shiva presents a compelling argument from the perspective of citizens of the southern hemisphere, most of whom are farmers.  Health implications of genetically modified foods, chemical fertilizers and pesticides on consumers is mentioned, but the main focus is on the health, social and economic implications of those producing the food.  Although this is an issue affecting farmers in the northern hemisphere, the fact that only two percent of the worlds farmers reside in the north makes this an issue with greater impact on the south.

Stolen Harvest is a densely packed 123 pages outlining the story of the capture of the global food supply by a handful of companies, the destruction of bio-diverse crops with mono-crops of soy and corn, the environmental and economic destruction of coastal communities with over fishing and industrial fish and shrimp farming and the dangers of genetically modified foods.  Each of the short chapters covers one of these topics and ends with a minimum of twenty references.  Shiva ends the book with a global call to reclaim food democracy.

As a scientist and an activist, she clearly presents the conflicts between public-interest science and private-interest science that drives much of the confusion on the part of the consumer.  She also demystifies issues of the global food supply chain and the powerful economic forces that influence global policy.

As a consumer and voting citizen, I highly recommend reading this book.  The issues are complex and vital to human health.  For those who are interested in democracy and personal freedom, you will find it enlightening to learn of the occurrence of Imperialism throughout the world today.   The implications are uncomfortable, but I believe it is important to hear the alternative argument for what is often presented as scientific progress and free trade.

Vandana Shiva is a world leading environmental activist who won the alternative Nobel Peace Prize (the Right Livlihood Award) in 1993.  She is the director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy and the author of many books.  Before she became an activist she was one of India’s leading physicists.

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