Film Review: SEED, the Untold Story

seedfilmSEED, the Untold Story would be worth watching if only for the lush beauty of its visuals; the opening sequence is pure art, glowing and smoldering with fecund life. Jewel-like ovules and whirligigs pour into the viewer’s eyes in a hypnotizing swirl. But behind the colors lurks a dark cloud, and this story, like the germ of a seed, carries a truth that is being played out behind our backs while we sleep: Something valuable is being taken away from us that we may never get back.

Until watching this film, I was blithely unaware that in 2016 we have the largest seed shortage in known history. We’ve lost at least 94% of Earth’s original seed varieties. Why does this matter? Because, as much as we have developed our technology, electronics and communication satellites are not something we can eat. Genetic diversity in plants is the only thing that stands between us and global famine; and when the seeds of a plant are lost to history, they are gone forever.

SEED introduces us to a subculture of souls who work to keep the biodiversity of seeds alive. These people do not stare into their handheld devices or media screens. They are watching something else: the earth, the sky, the corn that grows and the seeds that can, from a single kernel, unfurl a tree that takes root, living through generations of men who are born and die. A single seed can produce a plant that multiplies and feeds a village. Far behind the stage of high-tech life, these dedicated guardians hold a line that most of us don’t know exists, against the forces that are quietly moving to corral and control the very resources of life.

What disturbed me while watching this film is that I know this is not some dramatization of a conspiracy theory. Every fact presented checks out as true. Dow Chemical really did knowingly test poisonous chemicals next to children’s schools in Hawaii, Monsanto actually did run farmers out of business who would not knuckle under and buy their genetically modified seeds. It is a dark awakening. While consumers across the planet are preoccupied with the drama of war, politics and violence on the streets, behind the scenes, an erosion far more insidious is taking place. Today, in 2016, chemical corporations have literally taken control of the future of our world.

SEED makes itself a lucid voice that brings to light the true weight and meaning of the corporate manipulations of land and chemicals. These companies are now meddling with the very hands of creation: Welcome to the world of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

If you go on the internet, you can find hundreds of testimonies from corporations lauding the virtues of GMO products — they produce bigger crops, use less water, feed more people. It is not coincidence that these businesses stand to profit most generously from the GMO industry. But the actions of the chemical conglomerates speak clearly of their hidden motives; this film need not exaggerate to prove a point. Rather, SEED seeks to reconnect us with a side of life that we in America have all but forgotten — our heritage, our authentic origins and the people who unassumingly go about the business of saving the world without fanfare or special effects.

Fortunately, the importance of preserving of heirloom seeds is not entirely unrecognized. There are global banks, in England, India, Norway, Russia and other countries. One of the least known but most irreversible atrocities committed by the US in the Iraq war was when we destroyed their National Seed Bank, a collective that had been gathered to benefit not just Iraq, but all of mankind. This film is a wake-up call on American’s priorities.

Currently, 64 countries around the world require labeling of genetically modified foods. Unlike most other developed nations, the US has no laws requiring such measures. In fact, in 2015 the US House of Representatives passed a bill that prevents any mandatory GMO food labeling. Legislature does, however, have measures in place to assure the public that it is safe for them to consume these foods. It gives one pause.

Last week, workers in Hungary, in defiance of the biotech monolith, Monsanto, set fire to thousands of acres of corn. Why? Hungary is one of the few countries that has an outright ban against GMOs and the crops had been grown with contaminated seeds. In May of this year, the people of South Africa united as part of the March Against Monsanto, a campaign that stretches around the globe. Why is the United States, a self-proclaimed leader in the world, making such a weak showing against a danger that so many others see quite clearly?

Watch this movie, please. It will open your eyes and leave them aching.

SEED: The Untold Story will premiere at the Cable Car Cinema in Providence on Sunday, September 25.

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