Shiva, Vandana. "Monocultures of the Mind," in Monocultures of the Mind. London, New Jersey: Zed Books Ltd, 1993. Penang, Malaysia: Third World Network. pp. 9-64.

Vandana Shiva compares the effect of "modern," Western, dominant knowledge systems on local, indigenous knowledge to the effect of the Argentine dictatorship on dissidents: it ‘disappears’ them. This disappearance is brought about either by negating the existence of local knowledge or by denying the status of a systemic knowledge through labelling it as "primitive" or "unscientific". Western knowledge is thus exclusivist, and closed, and pushes other knowledge systems to the margins.

The dominant knowledge system is characterised as fragmentary and inherently fragmenting, as illustrated by the unnatural distinction it draws between agriculture on the one hand, and forestry on the other (what Shiva calls the "one dimensional forestry paradigm"). The reductionist, anti-nature bias of the dominant system destroys biodiversity through mechanically applied "scientific management". "Social Forestry", eucalyptus plantations, the Green Revolution and high-yield seeds are all examined in light of this analysis of the knowledge system that created them.

Monocultures—whether in agricultural or intellectual practice—are neither tolerant of other systems nor sustainable. For example, since sustainability in the dominant knowledge system implies only supply to the market, it does not preserve ecological stability or biodiversity. The dominant system is further characterised as economistic, displacing of human needs, inconsistent with equality and justice, colonising, non-contextual; it also restricts access and discourages plurality. Shiva calls for struggles against the dominant models through a democratisation of knowledge which legitimises the local and the diverse, based on an "insurrection of subjugated knowledge" (62).

See also IPR info sheet No. 3;

Shiva, Vandana. "Biotechnology and the Environment," in Monocultures of the Mind. London, New Jersey: Zed Books Ltd, 1993. Penang, Malaysia: Third World Network. pp. 9-64.

This essay addresses the mounting social and ecological anxiety around biotechnologies such as genetic engineering and tissue culture, and their control by transnational corporations (TNCs). Despite calls from the scientific community for increased safety regulation with regards to biohazards, TNCs continue the development of biotechnologies in pursuit of commercial gain. As public outcry in industrialised countries brings increased attention from legislators, these biotechnologies are coming more and more to be tested in less industrialised—and more importantly, less regulated—nations. The world over, hazardous materials are being produced at a rate which drastically outpaces the development of regulatory bodies. Third world countries looking for technology transfers and development input are finding themselves increasingly at risk in this domain.

The history of technological development generally, and biotechnical development specifically offer little reason to expect that the development and implementation of new biotechnologies will bring prosperity to the third world. Ignoring the vast socio-economic, political and historic complexities of the difficulties facing much of the world’s population, and focusing instead on miracle "techno-fixes" results in "unanticipated side-effects and negative externalities" (109). Biotechnology is also threatening biodiversity since it is used primarily to breed uniformity in plants and animals. As Shiva points out, biotechnologies may lead to a diversity of commodities, "but [they] cannot enrich nature’s diversity" (114). Decreased biodiversity leads to ecological instability and vulnerability.

Since the most serious impact of these developments is the displacement of commodities from the third world, the South should develop an agenda for compensation "based on the notion of historical justice" (117). The most adverse effects have to do with the concentration of power and control in the hands of private, transnational industry. Means must be developed, therefore, to undermine the increasing internationalisation of restrictive intellectual property rights and to preserve the historical heritage of third world nations.

See also IPR info sheets Nos. 1, 3, 4, 8, 9 and 11.