Ask an economist to give an opinion about any controversial subject in society, and they’ll turn to the data and start digging for answers. While I’ve covered the economics of GMOs in the past, Dr. Vandana Shiva, on a recent visit by the visionary sustainability guru to my home state of Hawaii, opened my eyes to the real economics in the GMO equation, and the picture isn’t pretty. Just like coal (which you are heavily subsidizing every day), the GMO food system relies on government handouts and many other subsidies in order to maintain its grip on the global food supply.
Dr. Vandana Shiva is an author (Earth Democracy), and was trained as a physicist. As such, she is a systems thinker. In her recent talk, she described the commodification of life as an affront to all of mankind, and described the system-level view that confronts us as we grapple with the GMO challenge.
The first truly eye opening description she made was that of our system of war. Carcinogenic compounds like Agent Orange have largely been repurposed into the agricultural chemicals of today. For instance, 2,4-D, an extremely potent chemical defoliant and component of Agent Orange, was originally developed to destroy Japan’s rice fields during World War II. It has been used in large scale monoculture style agriculture since the 1940s.