SEED: The Untold Story, follows passionate seed keepers intent on protecting our 12,000-year-old food legacy
There are many things that I am ignorant of which makes me hunger for learning about the unfortunate affairs that have bought our World community to where it is today. I have for a while known about the antics of agrochemical giant Monsanto but I hadn’t realised what their and other large corporations had bought about in the diversity of seeds and consequently the produce we eat.
In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. This once abundant seed diversity — painstakingly created by ancient farmers and gardeners over countless millennia — has been drastically winnowed down to a handful of mass-produced varieties. Under the spell of industrial “progress” and corporate profits, family farmsteads have given way to mechanized agribusinesses sowing genetically identical crops on a massive scale. But without seed diversity, crop diseases rise and empires fall.
The story starts with Will Bonsall of the Scattered Seed Project, who is not only a real character but is a man on a mission to preserve crop varieties for the future. We also get to see a huge underground bunker in Norway, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, the largest seed bank in the world. Then there is Joseph Simcox who is scouring the world for crop seeds. Why is all this important you might ask? Well with global warming and climate change the crops that are now in production might not be so productive in the future so we need access to a greater variety of crops that are capable of growing in a warmer world with unpredictable climates. And we don’t want to depend on the giant agrochemical companies to do this for us.
The other part of this story is about these giant agrochemical companies, such as Monsanto, who have led us down this path of the seed equivalent of ethnic cleansing. They have used their economic clout to essentially drive farmers to exclusively use their seed varieties, thus eliminating other seed suppliers from the markets. This is not true of just the western world, they have been doing this on a truly global scale. On the back of this use of genetically modified crop varieties is the extensive use of harmful insecticides which are literally poisoning huge numbers of people!
This is a story that is well-told and thought-provoking. As always it is great to see the personal stories of folks who are trying their hardest to preserve what nature has provided us in the face of adversity. It is also interesting to see the largely sketchy practices of Monsanto and understand why they are so unpopular in the eyes of many.
I highly recommend seeing this documentary if you get the chance. It won numerous awards when it was released! You might find the DVD of this in your local library, or you can rent or buy it from Amazon, Apple iTunes or YouTube.