This article from Discover also deals with Anti-GMO, environmentalist and feminist speaker Vandana Shiva. As mentioned in a previous posting, Vandana Shiva has been perpetuating a story that over 250,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide in the years since Monsanto GMO seeds were introduced to the country. Shiva describes this as “genocide”. Shiva posits that this is due to Monsanto’s business practices driving these farmers out of money. In the article, the author casts doubt on Shiva’s story by discussing how it may more likely be social and economic factors in India that are actually driving suicide rates up, and not Monsanto specifically. The author also mentions the documentary based on the Shiva story, Bitter Seeds, and mentions that while the connections to Monsanto might be more contrived, the connections made regarding India’s cultural practices and predatory lending might be more pertinent, if people were willing to pay attention to it.
The author then moves on to relating an event at which Shiva spoke at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. At the event, the author noted that when a member of the Gardens’ staff was introducing Shiva, they made it a point to mention that “over a quarter million Indian farmers have committed suicide because of GMO seed” to gasps from the crowd. This was able to prime the audience for when Shiva took over and discussed this story in more detail.
After the speech, the author had a moment to speak with Ms. Shiva, and he elaborated about how his journalism class was able to determine that Shiva’s story was overstated. Shiva’s response was simply to reiterate her point, and claim that any evidence against her version of events must be made up by Monsanto.
This kind of evangelism is concerning. A disregard for fact can severely discredit one’s position in an argument. To continue to repeat a lie until it becomes true doesn’t make it any more true than it was before. If people have genuine concern about GMO and the business practices surrounding it, then perhaps moving away from individuals like this would be advisable.