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The Bitter Seeds of Monsanto's Legacy: Debt, Death, and Global Destruction

October 27, 2012 | 212,084 views
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Click here to PURCHASE BITTER SEEDS on DVD. FOR MORE INFO ON THE TOPIC follow TeddyFilms on Twitter or like them on Facebook. Teddy Bear Films is a nonprofit organization and supports Prop. 37! Go Vote.
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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.

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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. "

Vote with Your Pocketbook, Every Day

Remember, the food companies on the left of this graphic spent tens of millions of dollars in the last two labeling campaigns—in California and Washington State—to prevent you from knowing what's in your food. You can even the score by switching to the brands on the right; all of whom stood behind the I-522 Right to Know campaign. Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference.

I-522 poster

As always, I encourage you to continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and to share what you've learned with family and friends. Remember, unless a food is certified organic, you can assume it contains GMO ingredients if it contains sugar from sugar beet, soy, or corn, or any of their derivatives.


If you buy processed food, opt for products bearing the USDA 100% Organic label, as organics do not permit GMOs. You can also print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. Alternatively, download their free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications. For more in-depth information, I highly recommend reading the following two books, authored by Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology:

For timely updates, join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. Please, do your homework. Together, we have the power to stop the chemical technology industry from destroying our food supply, the future of our children, and the earth as a whole. All we need is about five percent of American shoppers to simply stop buying genetically engineered foods, and the food industry would have to reconsider their source of ingredients—regardless of whether the products bear an actual GMO label or not.

[+] Sources and References