News Archive
May 2024

Chemicals in crops leading to chronic diseases, firebrand Indian activist says at Sharjah forum

The quantum physicist turned environmentalist said that fertilisers are not just poisoning humans but also creating a biological disaster

The chemicals we put in our crops are causing a pandemic of chronic diseases, according to an Indian environmentalist. Vandana Shiva, a quantum physicist turned activist, said that fertilisers are not just poisoning humans but also creating a biological disaster.

“We destroyed the habitats of other species,” she said. “We’ve poisoned them to extinction. Recent reports from Europe showed that 80 per cent of the disappearance of birds is related to chemicals in agriculture, pesticides, and insecticides.”

The firebrand activist was speaking at the opening of the 12th edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF), which was organised under the theme ‘Today’s Resources… Tomorrow’s Wealth’. In her speech, Vandana called for a food system transformation. “We have to teach successive generations how to protect the health of our Earth by producing food in a regenerative way – not in a way that worsens climate change,” she said.

Getting into debt for cancer treatment

According to Vandana, several developing economies face the impact of having food tainted with chemicals. “In countries with amazing wealth, there is a very big hunger,” she said. “And this is the hunger related to a food-related, lifestyle-related chronic disease epidemic. It has become the single biggest cost for countries and individuals in my country.”

She explained that various illnesses have increased manifolds due to harmful fertilisers. “People are getting into debt for cancer treatment,” she said. “People are getting into debt for kidney replacement. They are selling their lands. They’re selling their homes.”

She said that there is a deep connection between the health of the soil, the health of the plants, the foods that we eat and the health of people’s gut microbiome. She pointed out that this is costing us heavily. “Just in the last decade, doctors have started to wake up to the fact that the chronic disease epidemic,” she said. “This is the epidemic related to how we grow our food.”

Standing up for a cause

A quantum physicist by education, it was two different tragedies that sculpted the course of Vandana’s life. “I left physics to start working on food and agriculture, first because the most prosperous state of India, Punjab, erupted in violence in 1984,” she said. “And this is where the chemical agriculture was first introduced. But that same year, in the city of Bhopal, a pesticide plant leaked, killing thousands of people. Even today, children are being born with birth defects.”

Today, she is advocating for a change in how crops are grown. She is leading the way by training people on how to farm. “We teach people from around the world how to work with the Earth to produce more food while regenerating the Earth’s systems,” she said. “We have people from five continents right now at our biodiversity farm, where we have a little Earth universe City where 2,000 crops are growing in happiness and collaboration.”

She also called on the world to care for its bees and insects. “Without the pollinators, there’s one-third less food,” she said. “We have to protect our insects. In order to have more food, we have to protect the mycorrhiza and the soil and the earth.” QR Code

Published Date: September 14, 2023

More Farmers Place