More than 700 people packed Great Hall at Iowa State University in mid-March to hear an hour-long lecture by eco-agriculturist Vandana Shiva.
She received several rounds of applause during her presentation, which challenged the prevailing U.S. policies of advocating GMO technology here and abroad. Shiva documented how glyphosate, the primary weedkiller linked with “Roundup Ready” crops for the past decade, has permeated the food chain in the U.S. and much of the world.
Most of her audience was not aware that glyphosate is a powerful anti-bacterial agent. “The manufacturer claimed it can’t affect people because we don’t have the enzymatic ‘Shikimate pathway’ which plants do,” she noted. “However, microbial organisms do have that pathway. Glyphosate kills beneficial bacteria in our gut, leading to a rise in digestive disorders and other disease.”
Shiva’s main theme: “A diverse, local and non-toxic food production system can produce twice as much food as the world needs.” She cited many examples in India of how a variety of vegetables and fruit can offer more full and balanced nutrition than the monocultures generated by the “Green Revolution” and patented GMO crops.
India is currently enduring a virtual epidemic of diabetes, she said, and it’s a result of narrowing the population’s nutritional base toward polished rice and wheat from heavily fertilized fields. These are minerally deprived, empty calories, and they’ve driven millions of acres of traditional, highly nutritious crops from production.