The Story of Seed
Josie Jeffery hails a film that is really a call to action for us all. Seeds of Freedom, DVD, 2012. Produced by The Gaia Foundation & The African Biodiversity Network.
The story of the seed is by no means a fairytale but is a tale with both goodies and baddies. The unsung heroes (the farmers) cannot save the day without going through some hardship and overcoming the obstacles that prevent them from reclaiming their stolen treasure – the free seed.
A new film, Seeds of Freedom, shows us that the story of the seed hasn’t finished yet and that it is up to us to decide its ending; we can do this by making decisions to be responsible and, more importantly, to be aware of how the choices we make affect both the seed and the world’s food system.
The narration by Jeremy Irons (whose well-timed, soft and strong vocal tones complement the soundtrack) and the arresting photography work together to steer the viewer’s emotions throughout this film, which has been organised like chapters of a book, each chapter having a poignant, defining heading.
Key figures such as Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP, are featured, along with Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP and former environmental adviser to the UK prime minister, Liz Hosken, Director of The Gaia Foundation, and Vandana Shiva, founder of Navdanya International. These and many other inspirational speakers touch upon the legacy of GM seeds and the relationships between Indigenous people and seed, and explain how corporate profit has been put ahead of farmers being able to feed their families.
The film provides a forum for farmers in countries like Ethiopia, India and South Africa, which believe in maintaining their traditional farming methods and in the sacred relationship with the seed, to share their tales and their knowledge and fears with viewers.
The film informs us of the introduction of ‘altered’ warfare chemicals to assault the natural makeup of the land: what was once called an ‘explosive’ or ‘nerve agent’ was reformulated and then renamed ‘fertiliser’ and ‘pesticide’ before being used on our food crops!
The film highlights how seeds are used as a commodity, how they have become a point of conflict between farmers and business, and how, in some cases, farmers have been forced to abandon their traditional ways and ‘buy into’ the dream of a more prosperous life through using hybrid seeds. These hybrid seeds have to be purchased annually because they don’t produce viable offspring and cannot be harvested, stored and shared.
Farmers have been guided by the seed over generations and they naturally select the strongest seeds for the next year’s crops. These selected seeds will produce high-quality crops and pass their good traits on to successive generations.
When genetic engineering was first developed it promised stronger, more resilient crops that would deter pests and diseases and produce superior yields. The masterminds of these seeds (the villains of this story) wanted to own their GM seeds so that they could patent them, thus preventing anyone else from growing them without entering into a contract.
Alarm bells ring when some farmers who grow GM seeds start reporting problems like ‘superweeds’ and ‘superpests’, which have developed resistance to the crops, necessitating the application of stronger chemicals.
Traditional farmers are the keepers of the Earth; they protect it and nurture it in exchange for healthy nutritious crops that end up on our dinner plates.
The free seed should always be pushed into the Earth with the fingers of these farmers.
Essentially this is a story about a voice…
The voice of the seed is speaking for us and guiding us towards hope.
Many small voices can become a call – a call for attention and a call to join in with the movement towards claiming back our seeds of freedom.
To watch the film online and find out more go to www.seedsoffreedom.info. To purchase the DVD go to www.gaiafoundation.org/product/seeds-of-freedom-dvd