SEED: The Untold Story examines the disappearance of seed varieties, a crucial environmental and food security issue, focused around the work of several passionate seed collectors including Dr. Vandana Shiva in India who says “…as the corporate greed creates the seed famine, more people realize that they need to have their own seed … I started saving seeds and creating seed banks.” The film presents to us passionate farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers challenging the agribusiness and biotechnology juggernauts producing genetically modified seeds that not only put biodiversity at risk, but prevent farmers from saving their own seed, creating a dangerous dependence on Monsanto and their ilk for seed and putting us at risk of seed famine.
The film points out that 94% of seed varieties have disappeared over the past century and suggests we can reverse our reliance on only a few types of seeds. The film argues that mother nature’s gift of life through seeds belongs in the hands of farmers and local communities, not global corporations. The film also questions the moral legitimacy of patenting seeds that leads to situations in which Monsanto sues farmers who through no fault of their own have their crops contaminated with patented seeds from neighboring farms and then run afoul of intellectual property laws. Dr. Vandana Shiva suggests that “seed is not just the source of life, it is the very foundation of our being.” The film asks how is it that we let seeds, the source of all food for life on this planet, be placed in the hands of corporations?
Like Containment (Peter Galison and Robb Moss, 2015) about the disposition of nuclear waste for now and for the next 10,000 years which stuck a chord with me at last year’s festival, SEED: The Untold Story is dealing with another critical issue facing humanity and our collective ability to continue to thrive on this planet is what’s at stake, thus this film stands out as one of the most important films to screen at this year’s festival.
One of the things I liked best about this film is the manner in which it brings together concerned scientists, passionate activists, engaged communities, around the issue, reminding us that it’s possible to bring about positive change and a lot of power remains in the hands of individuals and communities. The film is elegantly structured and includes a variety of compelling characters and beautiful animations. There’s a delicate balance between doom and gloom and hope for the future. The approach does justice to the importance of the issue with compelling storytelling and illuminating the passion and solid scientific evidence behind the argument presented in the film. Highly recommended.