One of the most important films you'll see this year
By Patricia Hallam on June 24th 2016
Seed: the Untold Story, is the third film in a trilogy by directors Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz, whose first two films led them to look more closely at the role of the seed in shaping our world.
After screening their film at Sheffield’s annual Doc/Fest 2016, the directors gave a short Q&A where Siegel revealed that the concept began “with absolutely no real idea that seeds are so important”.
The film opens with introductions to the unsung heroes, the seed keepers of the world, protecting our 12,000 year old seed legacy. They reveal to us their personal stories and relationships with seeds, and they show us the devastating effects of the biotech chemical companies that control the majority of our seeds, for profit. The film reveals some shocking facts and stories.
In India, hundreds of thousands of farmers have committed suicide because of a ‘seed dictatorship’, from which farmers in debt to big corporations cannot escape.
In a time when 94% of our native seeds have disappeared, we see farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight to defend the future of our food.
One seedkeeper, Will Bonsall, tells us,“Seed saving is all about sex. And humans are all obsessed with sex, even if it’s Rutabager* sex. This is right up there with making love to your spouse….genetic diversity is the hedge between us and global famine.”
The film is an ambitious one. To unravel the complex history of how we got to where we are, to travel across continents, to use interviews, animation and archive footage, and to remain upbeat about our situation - with the feeling that things can change - is a triumph. The message remains clear and is enhanced by such diversity, a diversity that mirrors the film’s central message: that maintaining diversity in our seed stocks is crucial to our survival.
A question from the audience: "Why is GM bad?" Their response: “the answer to that is subjective - for some it disrupts the natural flow of nature, for others it’s an abuse of technology, or it’s about the lies perpetuated with the intention to make profit at the cost of health and the planet. It’s the practice and unnature of actions of big orgs. And it’s spiritual - we have no right to manipulate life, and big organisations manipulate us and seeds for profit.”
For us, this special film brings a revival of consciousness around seeds, opening a dialogue so that trade deals and corporate unnature are questioned more.
* The Rutabager, swede (from Swedish turnip), turnip or neep (Brassica napobrassica, or Brassica napus var. naporbrassica, or Brassica napus subsp. rapifera) is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip.
Above: Will Bonsall outside his barn with a rare variety of corn that he saved from a dying neighbor in Maine