Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology

The first essay in this collection was written for the United Nation’s programme on Systems of Knowledge and Systems of Power. One of the seminal arguments of this work is that monocultures are primarily unsustainable systems of power and politics. Shiva explains how the disappearance of diversity is also the disappearance of alternatives. This, she argues, gives rise to the idea that There Is No Alternative (TINA).  Shiva is speaking not only about the disappearance of bio- or agri- diversity – the subject matter of much of her life’s work – but of the diversity of culture and options, including problem solving.  The dangers of ‘monocultures’ relate to an overall loss of yield in terms of diversity, even if more efficient.  Monocultures, therefore, refer not only to our crops, but to our minds. Shiva discusses the Green Revolution and Gene Revolution, through which, she argues, monocultures were introduced and perpetuated, respectively. She states that, “it is in this context if the production of uniformity that the conservation of biodiversity needs to be understood” (6).

Shiva, Vandana. 1993. Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology. Palgrave Macmillan.