Vandana Shiva, a world renowned environmentalist, feminist and author from India, spoke to a packed audience on Monday night at the Ragozzino Performance Hall. Shiva is a prolific voice for sustainable organic agriculture and a fierce opponent of genetically modified organisms in agri-business. Her lecture on Monday titled “Soil Not Oil” outlined a global struggle between humanity’s connection to the earth through agriculture and the industrialized violence of fossil fuel consumption.
Shiva is not without her critics and she regularly speaks against the biggest names in agri-business like Monsanto and Syngenta. At Lane Community College an open letter criticizing her work was signed by nine faculty members on the eve of her visit. Monday night’s event was protested by a dozen activists who support GMOs and see them as valuable in fighting world hunger.
At the lecture, Shiva spoke of the necessity for a return to local agricultural systems. Her views on organic agriculture are boldly feminist. In many ways she views the women of the world as the vanguard in the fight for environmental justice and sees an inseparable link between feminism and ecology. “We have forgotten soil and made a civilization out of oil,” Shiva said.
Shiva talks of the age of oil as a 200-year-era and a 200-year-mistake. She speaks of the growing desperation of oil, which has progressed from deep water drilling, to tar sands mining and finally the fracking of the earth.
Audience member Andy Howell asked if human agriculture of any kind was a destructive force on earth. Shiva discussed the complexity and diversity of indigenous Indian agriculture, arguing that they are in harmony.
“No clear line can be drawn between the Indian farm field and the Indian forest,” Shiva said. She advocated for perennial agriculture and forest farming. “My civilization is one that has lasted 10,000 years because it took care of the soil.”