Dr. Vandana Shiva
Dr. Vandana Shiva is trained as a Physicist and did her Ph.D. on the subject “Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory” from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. She later shifted to inter-disciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy, which she carried out at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India.
In 1982, she founded an independent institute, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in Dehra Dun dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times, in close partnership with local communities and social movements. In 1991, she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, the promotion of organic farming and fair trade. For last two decades Navdanya has worked with local communities and organizations serving more than 5,00,000 men and women farmers. Navdanya’s efforts have resulted in conservation of more than 3000 rice varieties from all over the country and have established 60seed banks in 16 states across the country. In 2004 she started Bija Vidyapeeth, an international college for sustainable living in Doon Valley in collaboration with Schumacher College, U.K.
Dr. Shiva combines the sharp intellectual enquiry with courageous activism. She is equally at ease working with peasants in rural India and teaching in Universities worldwide.
Time Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as an environmental “hero” in 2003 and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators of Asia.
Forbes magazine in November 2010 has identified Dr. Vandana Shiva as one of the top Seven most Powerful Women on the Globe.
Dr. Shiva has contributed in fundamental ways to changing the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food. Her books, “The Violence of Green Revolution” and “Monocultures of the Mind” have become basic challenges to the dominant paradigm of non-sustainable, reductionist Green Revolution Agriculture. Through her books Biopiracy, Stolen Harvest, Water Wars, Dr. Shiva has made visible the social, economic and ecological costs of corporate led globalisation. Dr. Shiva chairs the Commission on the Future of Food set up by the Region of Tuscany in Italy. She is a Board Member of the International Forum on Globalisation and a member of the Steering Committee of the Indian People’s Campaign against WTO. She also serves on Government of India Committees on Organic Farming.
The area of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and Biodiversity is another area where Dr. Shiva has contributed intellectually and through campaigns. Through her leadership and commitments, Dr. Shiva and her team at the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology successfully challenged the biopiracy of Neem, Basmati and Wheat. Besides her activism, she has also served on expert groups of government on Biodiversity and IPR legislation.
Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering are another dimension of Dr. Shiva’s campaigning internationally. She has helped movements in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland and Austria with their campaigns against genetic engineering. In 2003, with movements worldwide she launched the global citizens campaign on the WTO GMO dispute between U.S and Europe.
Dr. Shiva’s contributions to gender issues are nationally and internationally recognized. Her book, “Staying Alive” dramatically shifted the perception of Third World women. In 1990 she wrote a report for the FAO on Women and Agriculture entitled, “Most Farmers in India are Women.” She founded the gender unit at the International Centre for Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu and was a founding Board Member of the Women Environment and Development Organization (WEDO).
She has initiated an international movement of women working of food, agriculture, patents and biotechnology called, Diverse Women for Diversity. The movement was launched formally in Bratislava, Slovakia on 1-2 May 1998. Diverse Women for Diversity has carried out studies for the National Commission of Women and the Department of Science and Technology.
Dr. Shiva is on the National Board of Organic Standards of India. She also works with the Governments of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttaranchal for the promotion of organic farming. She has been invited by the Planning Commission to be a member of the expert group on environment, the expert group on nutrition and the expert group on voluntary sector.
She serves on Prince Charles’s expert group on Sustainable Agriculture. Dr. Shiva is a member of President Zapatero’s Scientific Committee. She has been invited by the Prime Minister of Bhutan to help Bhutan go 100% organic.
Dr. Shiva’s books include Soil not Oil, Earth Democracy, Water Wars, Patents Myth and Reality, Tomorrow’s Biodiversity, Stolen Harvest, Biopiracy—The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge, Monocultures of the Mind—Biodiversity, Biotechnology and Agriculture, Ecofeminism, The Violence of the Green Revolution, Ecology and the Politics of Survival, Staying Alive.
Dr. Shiva has been a visiting professor and lectured at the Universities of Oslo, Norway, Schumacher College, U.K. Mt. Holyoke College, U.S., York University, Canada, University of Lulea, Sweden, University of Victoria, Canada, and Universite libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. In 2011, Dr. Shiva was the Wayne Morse Chair at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
Dr. Shiva has received honorary Doctorates from University of Paris, University of Western Ontario, University of Oslo and Connecticut College.
Among her many awards are the Alternative Nobel Prize (Right Livelihood Award, 1993), Order of the Golden Ark, Global 500 Award of UN and Earth Day International Award. Lennon ONO grant for peace award by Yoko Ono in 2009, Sydney Peace Prize in 2010, Doshi Bridgebuilder Award, Calgary Peace Prize and Thomas Merton Award in the year 2011.
Dr. Vandana Shiva has also worked in a feature film "Harmony" (alongwith other prominent global personalities) produced by Prince of Wales which addresses critical global issues and inputs from Global leaders including The Prince of Wales which gives a new perspective on how the world can globally, locally and personally meet the challenges we are facing today.
For more information, visit www.navdanya.org.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.
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By Jason Bruck
Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.
Researchers work with trained dolphins to learn more about their sensory abilities, seen here testing a dolphin's hearing. Jason Bruck / CC BY-ND
A Lot to Learn From Hormones<p>When sampling the blow, we are looking for hormones in mucus as these can be used to gauge psychological and physiological health. We are specifically interested in <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0114062" target="_blank">hormones like cortisol</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.04.003" target="_blank">progesterone</a>, which indicate stress levels and reproductive ability respectively, but can also help determine overall health.</p><p>Additionally, blow samples can detect <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1128%2FmSystems.00119-17" target="_blank">respiratory pathogens</a> in the lungs or nasal passages - blowholes evolved from noses after all.</p><p>This health analysis is especially important in areas with oil spills as the chemicals can cause hormonal problems that harm <a href="https://www.carmmha.org/investigating-how-oil-spills-affect-dolphins-and-whales/" target="_blank">development, metabolism and reproduction</a> in dolphins.</p><p>Hormone samples can provide scientists with valuable data, but collecting them from intelligent and unpredictable animals is challenging.</p>
Cetacean Collaborators<p>To build a drone that can stealthily collect spray from moving dolphins, we needed more data on their eyesight and hearing, and this is data that couldn't be collected in the wild nor simulated in a lab.</p><p>We worked with dolphins at facilities like Dolphin Quest in Bermuda, which provides guests opportunities to learn about dolphins while allowing <a href="https://dolphinquest.com/about-us/our-story/" target="_blank">scientists access to animals for noninvasive research</a>. Here the dolphins can swim away if they choose not to work with us, so we had to design the study like a game; the way a kindergarten teacher entertains a class. If the dolphins aren't interested, we don't get to do the science.</p><p>Over the course of hundreds of sessions, we sought to answer two questions: What can dolphins hear and what can they see around their heads?</p><p>To test dolphin hearing, we set up microphones and cameras to record dolphin behavior as we played drone noise in the air. We analyzed the responses to each noise – such as how many dolphins looked at the speaker – and used these as a proxy for their ability to hear the sounds.</p>
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Robodolphin doesn't look like a real dolphin, but it doesn't need to in order to train our drone pilots. C.J. Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND<p>To build robodolphin, we worked with dolphins trained to "chuff" or sneeze on command to measure spray characteristics. We used high-speed photography to see the dolphins' breath as it moved through the air. Then we conducted high resolution CT scans of a dolphin head and 3D-printed a replica of a nasal passage.</p><p>Now, we have a complete robodolphin and are tweaking its sprays to be nearly identical to the real thing. This will allow us to determine how close we need to get to collect the samples, and therefore, how quiet our drone needs to be.</p>
The replica dolphin blowhole was designed from a scan of a real blowhole passage, and the spray it produces closely matches the real thing. Alvin Ngo, Mitch Ford and CJ Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND
A Bit of Practice, Then Into the Wild<p>In the next few months, we will test flights over robodolphin with existing drones to determine the timing and strategy for collection. From there, we will fabricate a low-noise drone that can fly fast enough and with sufficient maneuverability to capture samples from wild dolphins. Like a video game, we will use the visual field data to develop approach trajectories to stay in the visual blindspots.</p><p>We plan to test our drones on a truck-mounted robodolphin moving down a runway, then using a boat to simulate realistic conditions. The next steps will involve ocean testing with dolphins trained for open ocean swimming. These tests will determine if our devices can catch and hold the hormones as the drone flies back to a researcher's boat.</p><p>Finally, we will deploy the system to collect data on wild dolphins. Our first goal is to test resident dolphins – animals that live on the coasts and deal directly with boat and oil industry noise – which will allow us to learn more about stress resulting from human impacts.</p><p>Those samples are a way off, but if all goes well we will have a specially built drone capable of flying long distances and capturing samples undetected in a few years. The samples collected will allow researchers to do better science with impact on the animals they study.</p>
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On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.
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By Kelli McGrane
Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.
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Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.
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By Ashutosh Pandey
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.
Environmental and Health Hazard<p>Experts say e-waste, which is now the world's fastest-growing domestic waste stream, poses serious environmental and health risks.</p><p>Simply throwing away electronic items without ensuring they get properly recycled leads to the loss of key materials such as iron, copper and gold, which can otherwise be recovered and used as primary raw materials to make new equipment, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions from extraction and refinement of raw materials.</p><p>Refrigerants found in electronic equipment such as fridge and air conditioners also contribute to global warming. A total of 98 Mt of CO2-equivalents, or about 0.3% of global energy-related emissions, were released into the atmosphere in 2019 from discarded refrigerators and ACs that were not recycled properly, the report said.</p><p>E-waste contains several toxic additives or hazardous substances, such as mercury and brominated flame retardants (BFR), and simply burning it or throwing it away could lead to serious health issues. Several studies have linked unregulated recycling of e-waste to adverse birth outcomes like stillbirth and premature birth, damages to the human brain or nervous system and in some cases hearing loss and heart troubles.</p><p>"Informal and improper e-waste recycling is a major emerging hazard silently affecting our health and that of future generations. One in four children are dying from avoidable environmental exposures," said Maria Neira, director of the Environment, Climate Change and Health Department at the World Health Organization. "One in four children could be saved, if we take action to protect their health and ensure a safe environment."</p>
Europe Leads the Way<p>While most of the e-waste was generated in Asia (24.9 Mt) in 2019, Europe led the charts on a per person basis with 16.2 kg per capita, the report said.</p><p>But the continent also recorded the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/the-eu-declares-war-on-e-waste/a-51108790" target="_blank">highest documented formal e-waste collection and recycling</a> rate at 42.5%, still below its target of 65%. Europe was well ahead of the others on this front. Asia ranked second with 11.7%.</p><p>The authors said while more that 70% of the world's population was covered by some form of e-waste policy or laws, not much was being done toward implementation and enforcement of the regulations to encourage the take-up of a collection and recycling infrastructure due to lack of investment and political motivation.</p><p>"You have to think about new economic systems," said Kühr.</p><p>One approach could be that consumers no longer buy the products, but only the service they offer. The device would remain the property of the maker, who would then have an interest in offering his customers the best service and the necessary equipment. The maker would also be interested in designing his products in such a way that they are easier to repair and easier to recycle, Kühr said.</p>
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