Well, last night I finished reading a very interesting book by Vandana Shiva called Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply.
While I’m usually quite pro-technology, pro-science, and pro-“development”, Shiva’s book is a reminder of how deeply codependent science has become with business interests. And what businesses they are: I have always been deeply distrustful of agribusinesses like Monsanto and Cargill, and now I’m even moreso. The picture Shiva paints is quite shocking, and provokes a great deal of discomfort with the kind of strategies that companies like those I mentioned use to take control of something absolutely basic to human life: food.
While Francis Moore Lappé’s Diet For a Small Planet was understandable as a kind of ode to vegetarianism as a far more sensible way of life compared to the mainstream American meat-centered diet, I found the book’s focus on nutrition to be less stirring than Shiva’s more political, environmentalist, and scientific approach. For no matter what her opponents say, Shiva is a scientist! She was trained as a physicist and only later took up activism. Her take on agribusiness from an Indian perspective is very interesting. I have reservations about the way she claims that Indian traditional agriculture is conservationist and has always been sustainable… most traditional agricultures were somewhat sustainable but also somewhat dangerous.
However, most of her arguments demonstrably hold water, and her book is worth reading, in my opinion. If I get the chance to pick up more titles by her, I will do so without hesitation.