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Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply [Paperback]

Vandana Shiva


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31 Dec 1999
In "Stolen Harvest", Vandana Shiva charts the impact of globalized, corporate, agriculture on small farmer, the environment and the quality of the food we eat. With chapters on genetically engineered seeds, patents on life, mad cows and sacred cows and the debate on shrimp farming, this is a book that is designed to shape the debate about genetic engineering and commercial agriculture. Vandana Shiva is one of the South's best known environmentalists and a source for contemporary thought in the global environmental movement. In North America the Zed edition of this book is published by Southend Press.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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"Shiva has devoted her life to fighting for the rights of ordinary people in India. Her fierce intellect and her disarmingly friendly, accessible manner have made her a valuable advocate for people all over the developing world.' - Ms Magazine 'The South's best known environmentalist.' - New Internationalist" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Vandana Shiva is the director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy in New Delhi and a world-renowned environmental thinker and activist. She is the author of many books, including Staying Alive (Zed Books, 1989), The Violence of the Green Revolution (Zed Books, 1992) and Monocultures of the Mind (Zed Books, 1993). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
110 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and compelling 18 May 2002
By Malvin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In this remarkable book, Vandana Shiva effectively contrasts corporate command-and-control methods of food production with the small farmer economy that predominates in the third world (especially in her native India). In contast to what many here in the U.S. might perceive as the conventional wisdom, Shiva makes a strong argument that local, small scale agriculture is superior to the agribusiness model for a number of reasons.
First, Shiva points out that many of the productivity gains attributable to the Green Revolution were achieved by dramatically increased inputs of fertilizer, seed and water. When one compares units of input with units of output, however, native practices produce higher yields -- especially when one takes into account the multiple uses derived from a single product.
For example, mustard oil is a vital product used by many of India's poor for cooking, seasoning, medicine and other uses. But it has been banned by the Indian government (under highly suspicious circumstances) in order to allow imports of soybean oil products. While giant corporations benefit from expanded sales, native industries have been destroyed, contibuting to poverty and malnourishment.
Shiva discusses the commercial fishing and aquaculture (shrimp farming) practices that inevitably result in environmental destruction and reduced catches. She compares this short-sighted approach with traditional Indian fishing techniques that have successfully sustained themselves for generations while protecting important ecosystems such as mangrove forests.
Shiva discusses corporate patenting of seeds, which insidiously transforms the cooperative ethic of seed sharing into a criminal offense. The author supports a non-cooperation movement in India that is resisting corporate attempts to claim ownership of seeds that have been cultivated by countless generations of farmers.
Shiva's sacred cow / mad cow metaphor effectively and appropriately contrasts agribusiness with small farming. India's sacred cows live in harmony with the environment, performing multiple services and producing multiple products for the community; whereas mad cows are a grotesque manifestation of an industrial system obsessed with uniformity, technology and profit.
Shiva also touches on the topic of genetic engineering (GE) and discusses the threat it poses to biodiversity, food safety and human health.
The Afterword to the book alludes to the WTO protests in Seattle. Shiva believes this watershed event proves that people are becoming more aware of the dangers of unaccountable corporate power, yet she believes that positive change is possible. This opening of consciousness to new possibilities may be attributable to the extraordinary work of people like Vandana Shiva, whose intelligence and compassion is abundantly evident in this book. Highly recommended!
54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critically important for environmentalists & students. 8 May 2000
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking Of The Global Food Supply, renowned environmental activist Vandana Shiva charts the impacts of globalized, corporate agriculture on small farmers, the environment, and the quality of the food we eat. Shiva writes about genetically engineered seeds, patents on life, mad cows (and sacred cows), shrimp farming, and more. Stolen Harvest is a passionate, articulate, highly recommended "wake up" call to the public regarding the role of genetic engineering in commercial agriculture, the growing domination of agribusiness with respect to world food supplies, and the need for sound environmental thinking with respect to feeding the burgeoning populations of the world.
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliance 28 April 2000
By Juliana Vander Voort - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you deplore the WTO and MN corporate control over the world's food supply through intellectual property rights and patents on genetically engineered seed - then reading Stolen Harvest is a must. Vandana Shiva brilliantly reveals the current crisis that Indian farmers are facing as Monsanto and other mega corps are jeopardizing the livelihoods of impoverished persons (worldwide) through seed monopoly and a centralized system of agriculture commerce. Shiva discusses the impact of industrial farming and aquaculture on the environment and how it stresses local populations and threatens the diversity of species. A MUST READ!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stolen harvest:a short reveiw 10 Sep 2009
By Rakesh Gade - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Vandana Shiva is a physicist by training and an environmental activist who has done massive work in preservation of traditional cultures and farming techniques. In an age of multinational corporations taking over of traditional cultures, their lands, their means of livelihood, this book is an eye opener to the range of exploitation done by these corporations on the name of free markets and liberalization.

One gets a sense of being robbed by these corporations the people's commons and deprivation of nature's ability to regenerate and flourish. There are several ways these corporations plunder the environment and the lives of the poor. Vandana first takes up the case of seed security in third world countries. Corporation like Montaso try to get patents for breeding techniques that have been in existence for centuries in these cultures. These corporate try to usurp the traditional practices and aim at dependency of the farming communities on their seeds that are genetically modified. Traditionally different varieties of seeds are exchanged between farmers but the corporations with the help of the WTO offend such practices as crime to the free trade policies. This causes dependency of farmers on genetically engineered seeds and also use of herbicides and pesticides made by the same corporations heavily. The latest seeds sold by Montaso cannot be reusable and can only be used once. They are genetically modified and not reusable.

The corporate greed to make money has no boundaries and the exploitations of nature's resources and livelihood of the poor has no limits. The corporate supports monoculture of farming like soybeans which are dumped from United States to third world countries. The poor who depend on local industry and local farming are displaced of livelihood. She explains in detail with several examples how the cost of local commodities is reduced with this import of foreign goods. The farmers are plundered.

Vandana makes an important point about the dependency of farming land for manure from livestock and in turn their on the straw of the harvest. This chain is broken when we import foreign food which is unsuitable to people and cattle alike. She takes a strong anti-globalization stance by taking several examples like the excessive farming of shrimp on coastal areas that has eroded the land and made drinking water salty. Also excessive fishing in the last couple of decades has reduced the fish and turtle population and destroyed the biodiversity of the sea. Not only is the land and the sea no spared by the corporate greed, the cattle are looked upon as huge udders for milking money. They are given all kinds of chemical, antibiotics to grow fat for meat and eat the meat of cattle as a source of protein. She states that not giving them the right to subjectivity and slaughtering them is causing animal rights violation, suffering and disease to humans alike. BSE is a well know example of how the scientific community hid the facts of the dangers of its transfer from cattle to humans. Corporatism controls everything with their money power and the WTO policies. Genetic engineered seeds and plants are claimed to be more efficient than traditional farm varieties but they are in reality not that promising as they are advertised.

She gives compelling evidence of destruction to nature, people, environment, animals and the sea by the globalization and WTO policies. Her initiative Navdanya is an organization where seeds of biodiverse varieties of plants are collected and preserved so that the farming community is not deprived of diverse seed bank and enslaved to corporate control of seed production and monoculture. This monoculture has several disadvantages which the book goes in detail.

It is a right of the people to be able to sell and trade freely and also to be able to preserve their culture and livelihood. Free trade in agriculture can cause starvation and poverty the opposite of what it claims not to do. The reality is different from what is propounded in economic policies. Economics, culture and farming are interlinked hence the importance to local and decentralized economies.

All in all, the book makes strong points about the disadvantages of globalization and the exploitation of corporatism on third world countries. Luckily there is a lot of people's awareness and movements in this direction due to concerned scientists and farming organizations around the world. The same theme of exploitation can be seen is all countries. Corporate monoculture pitted against diversity of nature is the fight of this age. This book can be beginner guide to corporate and WTO hegemony and the fight of the people against it.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American food supply in danger 12 Oct 2008
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I was shocked and angered at the pervasivness of corporate influence in the food we eat. The well being of people seems to be not much more than an afterthought. Dr. Shiva is very articulate in framing the consequences of the Monsanto's and Cargill's of the world and how they are systematicly robbing poor countries of their ability to survive without them. Poorer countries have been self sustaining for centuries developing specific strains of seed to survive in specific areas. It is almost unfathomable that any law could be created at the behest of a corporation that would make sharing seed among farmers illegal!! Easy to read,easy to understand. Dr.Shiva has indeed opened my eyes to the true nature of big corporate factory farms and the actual and potential damage which threatens mankind all in the quest for profits. I highly recomend this book to anyone under the illusion that the American food supply is safe.
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