The New Yorker Rebuts Bioluddite Disinformationist Vandana Shiva


Vandana Shiva

Back in August, The New Yorker ran a terrific profile of the evil anti-biotech charlatan Vandana Shiva that nicely revealed, well, her evilness to the world. Incensed that her fables were questioned, Shiva attacked using the characteristic techniques of the Big Lie, implications of racism, misdirection, and more made up data. David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, has now replied. Remnick's letter was reproduced at the Genetic Literacy Project. Selections are below:

This is in reply to the letter you sent and subsequently posted on the Internet earlier this week. It is not for publication in any way or on your website, but I thought you were asking for a serious reply. So here it is: I should say that since you have said that the entire scientific establishment has been bought and paid for by Monsanto, I fear it will be difficult to converse meaningfully about your accusation that the story contained "fraudulent assertions and deliberate attempts to skew reality." But maybe I am wrong; I'll try. …

One hardly needs to hold a Ph.D. in physics to become an effective environmental activist, as you have demonstrated. Yet, when a prominent figure, such as yourself, is described for decades—in interviews, on web sites, in award citations, and on many of your own book jackets, as having been "one of India's leading physicists" it seems fair to ask whether or not you ever worked as one. …

Your math and conclusions on the issues of farmer suicides and seed prices and values differ from the math in studies carried out by many independent, international and government organizations.  Mr. Specter is far from alone in rejecting, based on data, your charge that Monsanto is responsible for "genocide" in India. In your letter you state that "Specter promotes a system of agriculture that fails to deliver on its promises of higher yield and lower costs and propagates exploitation." This has always been your position, but as Mr. Specter pointed out in his article, there have been many studies on the effects of planting BT cotton in India, and on the whole, scientists – none of whom were connected to Monsanto –have found the opposite to be true. …

One of the best recent studies on the economic impact of Bt cotton on farmers found that "Bt has caused a 24% increase in cotton yield per acre through reduced pest damage and a 50% gain in cotton profit among smallholders. These benefits are stable; there are even indications that they have increased over time." The researchers also show that Bt cotton adoption has raised consumption expenditures, a common measure of household living standard, by 18% during the 2006–2008 period and conclude that Bt cotton has created large and sustainable benefits, which contribute to positive economic and social development in India.

The whole reply is worth reading.