SSS Embraces Anti-Science Bunk for “Sustainability”

SSS Embraces Anti-Science Bunk for “Sustainability”

This Thursday, the esteemed Students for a Sustainable Stanford (SSS) will hold its annual Schneider Memorial Lecture. The guest is Dr. Vandana Shiva, whom SSS describes unironically as an “Author, Activist… and leading voice in the global environmental justice movement.”

In reality, Dr. (of philosophy, not of any science!) Shiva is an anti-U.S. fanatic, and is only a “leading voice” in the international propaganda campaign against modern agronomy and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), a campaign which has been repeatedly and thoroughly discredited by major scientific organizations, including the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Last month, dozens of eminent scientists sent Stanford a damning letter detailing Shiva’s “astonishing tendency to nonsense” and “stunning ignorance.” They even address SSS directly, saying that Shiva’s views are “demonstrably, unequivocally anti-sustainable. Her ideas on farming would relegate it to a primitive, low-yielding, wasteful activity.”

Perhaps we ought to amend the group’s acronym. Something like SSS: Students Suspicious of Science would be more accurate. For their next trick, SSS could invite an anti-vaxxer to teach the HumBio core and read horoscopes in PHYSICS 41.

Shiva envisions a world of highly decentralized, biodiversity-based agriculture, where farmers plant many varieties of organic seeds and cultivate without the aid of fertilizer, pesticide, or other modern farming technology.

To the person who buys an $8 bag of ‘non-GMO’ gummy worms from Whole Foods and then self-congratulates for saving the planet, Shiva’s agrarian fantasy seems great.

But widespread malnutrition is slightly more pressing in the Third World than “eco-feminism” (women celebrating their connection to the earth by pulling weeds by hand for their whole lives!) at the moment.

Here are some of Shiva’s brightest claims:

  • GMOs are “Poison Producing Plants”
  • Saying farmers should have freedom to grow GMOs is like saying rapists should have “freedom to rape.”
  • Fertilizer is a “weapon of mass destruction” and should be banned.

For further reading, Shiva and her tactics were rather thoroughly exposed by an investigative reporter in The New Yorker in 2014.

Here’s the truth: agricultural multinationals like Monsanto have a history of unethical practices with farmers in this country and abroad. But the Green Revolution and GMOs have unquestionably improved our world: nearly eliminating famine outside of war, allowing fewer people to farm much more food with much less effort, and improving child nutrition and global life expectancy significantly.

And have no doubt -- Shiva’s ideas have consequences.

Imagine if we had listened to “experts” like Shiva back in 1960! Millions more dead to famine and malnutrition, reduced economic output, women and children forced to hand-weed and do literally back-breaking work instead of seeking education and bettering their lives.

You’ve probably never heard of Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Prize winning American agronomist whose innovations in the Green Revolution likely saved more human lives than any other person in history, principally in the Third World. In other words, a racist imperialist, whose work pales in comparison to our Swedish Sweetheart, St. Greta Thunberg, whose many accomplishments… oh wait.

So, why is an ostensibly pro-science student group inviting a non-scientist to campus to promote anti-scientific bunk? The answer is wokeness. Unfortunately it seems that some students have become so “educated” in green fantasies and narratives about the U.S. that they can sell anything sufficiently left-wing as “sustainable.” The nutrition of children in the developing world be damned!

The Review has learned that Dr. Shiva will not be paid her full, exorbitant, $40,000 speaking fee, but it remains questionable to pay this woman for anything, in my view, except perhaps to go away.

But, if an enlightening evening of ag-truth conspiracy theories is for you, the lecture is this Thursday (23 January) at 7:00 P.M. in CEMEX Auditorium. Attend at your own risk. The talk comes with a spectacular title:

“Soil Not Oil: Biodiversity-based Agriculture to Address the Climate Crisis.”

It seems slightly counterproductive to me for SSS to fly a protester all the way across the Pacific just to rant about the government poisoning the food and then claim it has something to do with “The Climate.” At least Greta sailed her way here!

But who am I to question our sustainable overlords? Perhaps in her great scientific wisdom, “Dr.” Shiva possesses some way to fuel a passenger aircraft from New Delhi on Soil, Not Oil.

A previous version of this article incorrectly noted the Review learned of Dr. Shiva's speaking fee through a source inside SSS.

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