By Dr. Mercola
Bitter Seeds is the last film in the Trilogy produced by Teddy Bear Films. The first two, Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town, and China Blue were released in 2001 and 2005 respectively. So far, the films have won 20 international awards, aired on over 30 television channels and screened in more than 100 film festivals.
The aim of the trilogy is to generate debate about public policy and consumer choices in the face of overpowering global economic forces. Says the films' Director, Micha X. Peled:
"I believe Globalization has become the overarching theme of our times. It clearly has many positive aspects that have improved our lives. But mostly, the dynamics of Globalization are working for the rich and powerful, for those who make the rules, enabling multinational corporations to expand their reach and governments to extend their control.
My Globalization Trilogy focuses on the current and emerging economic superpowers: U.S., China and India. The Trilogy begins with us here in the West, and then journeys back down the production-consumption chain, each film peeling off another layer."
Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town focused on consumerism in the U.S., while China Blue investigated the sweatshop labor conditions in the manufacturing of the clothes we all buy. Bitter Seeds looks at the beginning of the supply chain – the raw materials – shedding much-needed light on the crisis created by Monsanto's genetically engineered Bt cotton.
Buried in debt and struggling against the rising cost of GE seeds and the chemicals required, combined with failing yields and GE-created super weeds and resistant pests, Indian farmers have taken to suicide at a frightening rate. Over the past 16 years, a quarter-million of India's farmers have been driven to suicide by Monsanto's false promises and ruthless global monopolization tactics. It's estimated that one Indian farmer now commits suicide every 30 minutes. Most end their lives by drinking pesticide...
Rounding out his "Globalization Trilogy" with another affecting, character-driven portrait designed to indict corporate opportunism, Micha X. Peled exposes the issues underlying a rash of farmer suicides in "Bitter Seeds." – Variety 9/5/11
A Timely Reminder: Educated Consumers Can Make a Big Difference, But First We Must Be Allowed to Know the Truth!
Bitter Seeds raises critical questions about the human cost of genetically modified agriculture and the future of how we grow our food and other essential crops. The film couldn't be more timely, as California stands poised to decide the fate of Proposition 37, which would require genetically engineered foods to be identified on the label, on November 6.
A major problem facing Americans is forced ignorance. Even though many are undoubtedly concerned about the environment and the future of their children, they can't opt to avoid GE foods even if they want to, simply because the U.S. refuses to label them.
This must change.
And while GE food labels may seem unrelated to the plight of India's GE cotton farmers, it's really not, because the U.S. is a major consumer of all manner of GE crops, and Americans cannot alter their consumer habits unless they're informed about what they're buying. Many still don't even know that genetically engineered crops exist, let alone that they're in the food supply, or that these crops are decimating soils and destroying the livelihood of farmers across the globe.
While labels for GE cotton in clothing may be a long way out, you can ensure you're not buying GE cotton by making sure it's certified organic cotton. Clothing manufacturers virtually never keep certified organic a secret! While you will probably pay a bit more, you're actively participating in a movement to support traditional, sustainable farming that does not involve the death and destruction of the environment and its inhabitants in the process.
"Here is a documentary that shows what is really happening because of GMOs," VonBreck says. "When I saw it, I knew this is such an important issue to raise awareness on. I knew we were doing important work." – Boulder Weekly, 2/16/12
Similarly, without GE labeling, the only way to avoid GE foods is to only buy certified organic foods. You cannot settle for "all-natural." The "natural" label is worthless – many all-natural brands are actually using GE ingredients, and are now donating millions of dollars to the campaign to defeat Prop. 37, to keep you in the dark about what's really in your favorite all-natural brands!
We only have less than two short weeks left to really shift the tide against genetically engineered foods in the U.S., and we need your help. Monsanto and their minions have raised $40 million to defeat Proposition 37, which has bought them a big swing in the polls. The pro-labeling side has shrunk from 68 to 48 percent – a testament to the power of well-crafted, misleading propaganda. But 48 percent is holding fast to the principle that we have the right to know what's in the food we buy, and it only takes 51 percent to win the vote.
We need your contributions now more than ever, so please, make a donation today!
When the Price of False Advertising Means the Death of Millions...
The film features Manjusha Amberwar, an 18-year-old Indian village girl who wants to become a journalist in order to expose the severity of the problems caused by Monsanto's seed monopoly scheme. Farming debts claimed the life of her own father, a respected village leader. Manjusha interviews several families of local farmers who resorted to drinking pesticide. One of the village elders tells her:
"In my time there were no suicides. Even the poor could survive by working hard. But there are no other seeds available now. Traditional seeds have disappeared. We farmers are illiterates. We follow false advertising like a dog follows bread."
What many still do not know is that farming has changed dramatically over the past few decades. Seeds have traditionally been saved and shared between farmers from one harvest season to the next. You rarely ever had to buy new seed. Nature, when left alone, provides you with the means to propagate the next harvest in a never-ending cycle.
In the 1970's, hybrid seeds were introduced into India, promising better yields using chemical fertilizers and insecticides. But it didn't take long before yields began to drop as the agricultural chemicals took their toll on the soils. Farm debts began driving Indian farmers to suicide in 1997, and it hasn't stopped since. In fact, matters have quickly gotten worse in the decade since Monsanto introduced its revolutionary genetically engineered Bt cotton, which cannot be saved or shared from season to season, but must be continually repurchased. Genetically engineered seeds also require expensive agricultural chemicals, and more water – a commodity few farmers have access to unless it rains.
"Poignant and insightful look into the human suffering caused by agricultural bioengineering, features an unlikely but appealing protagonist to tell its story about a global phenomenon... One of my favorite things about the movie is that director Micha Peled does not resort to doomsday talk or hysterics. This is not a dreary film: Underneath it all is a strong sense of humanity." – San Francisco Chronicle 10/4/12
"Films like this can change the world." – Alice Waters
India Supreme Court Recommends 10 Year Moratorium
Recent news is encouraging, however. On October 18, Mail Online India1 reported that "the fate of genetically modified (GM) food crops in India has been virtually sealed," as a panel of experts appointed by the Supreme Court of India has recommended placing a decade-long moratorium on field trials of all genetically engineered foods, and the termination of all currently ongoing field trials.
Additionally, the panel has asked that the safety of all GE crops either being considered or already approved for field trials be reviewed by independent biosafety experts. According to Mail Online India:
"At present, several food crops are being tested in open fields by an array of Indian and multinational companies. All such trials will have to end if the court accepts recommendations of the technical panel which was appointed with concurrence of the government.
Jairam Ramesh as environment minister had imposed an indefinite moratorium on the commercial release of the first transgenic food crop, Bt brinjal, in February 2010. ... Representatives of both pro and anti-GM lobbies were heard by the panel. The committee's recommendations fly in the face of the stand taken by the scientific advisory committee to the PM in favour of the current regulatory system. "
Keep Fighting for Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods
While California Prop. 37 failed to pass last November, by a very narrow margin, the fight for GMO labeling is far from over. The field-of-play has now moved to the state of Washington, where the people's initiative 522, "The People's Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," will require food sold in retail outlets to be labeled if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. As stated on LabelitWA.org:
"Calorie and nutritional information were not always required on food labels. But since 1990 it has been required and most consumers use this information every day. Country-of-origin labeling wasn't required until 2002. The trans fat content of foods didn't have to be labeled until 2006. Now, all of these labeling requirements are accepted as important for consumers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also says we must know with labeling if our orange juice is from fresh oranges or frozen concentrate.
Doesn't it make sense that genetically engineered foods containing experimental viral, bacterial, insect, plant or animal genes should be labeled, too? Genetically engineered foods do not have to be tested for safety before entering the market. No long-term human feeding studies have been done. The research we have is raising serious questions about the impact to human health and the environment.
I-522 provides the transparency people deserve. I-522 will not raise costs to consumers or food producers. It simply would add more information to food labels, which manufacturers change routinely anyway, all the time. I-522 does not impose any significant cost on our state. It does not require the state to conduct label surveillance, or to initiate or pursue enforcement. The state may choose to do so, as a policy choice, but I-522 was written to avoid raising costs to the state or consumers."
Remember, as with CA Prop. 37, they need support of people like YOU to succeed. Prop. 37 failed with a very narrow margin simply because we didn't have the funds to counter the massive ad campaigns created by the No on 37 camp, led by Monsanto and other major food companies. Let's not allow Monsanto and its allies to confuse and mislead the people of Washington and Vermont as they did in California. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can, regardless of what state you live in.
- No matter where you live in the United States, please donate money to these labeling efforts through the Organic Consumers Fund.
- If you live in Washington State, please sign the I-522 petition. You can also volunteer to help gather signatures across the state.
- For timely updates on issues relating to these and other labeling initiatives, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
- Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the Washington initiative.