Directed by Taggart Siegel & Jon Betz
It’s easy to speculate as to what has caused the degradation of civilization, but after watching Seed, the Untold Story, I feel certain it’s related to greed and the corporatization of agriculture. Well-fed people are happy people, and since business has taken control of agriculture, too many cultures around the world have lost the ability to truly feed themselves.
We tend to take seeds for granted, mostly buying them in a sealed plastic snack bag. Nurseries sell seeds, but most urban gardeners are more likely to plant nursery starts, so the world of seed remains a mystery and we stick to, at most, 120 varieties, even though there are still 30,000 species of edible plants on the planet.
Seed painstakingly but entertainingly takes us through the history of seeds, showing us their beauty in myriad shapes and colors. You owe it to yourself to see this film so that, if nothing else, you can appreciate the gorgeous diversity, as well as how threatened they truly are.
In the last century, 94 percent of our seed varieties have disappeared, as in likely gone extinct. It is primarily thanks to a handful of passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy that we have even 6 percent remaining, and the film introduces us to a number of those dedicated individuals. As Will Bonsall of the Scatterseed Project explains, “Genetic diversity is the hedge between us and global famine.” Bonsall sees himself as the plant version of Noah, preserving thousands of varieties of in his “ark.”
Our preserved seeds are vulnerable, the film explains, not just to greedy corporations and hostile forces (such as the U.S., which destroyed the Iraqi seedbank), but also increasing natural disasters such as the storm that wiped out a seedbank in 2006.
Large corporations have bought an estimated 20,000 seed companies. Their incursions against farmers are well known, and struggling farmers get into terrible binds with hybrid and GMO seeds that cannot be reused, as has been done for centuries. In India, it has led to many hundreds of farmer suicides.
You really must see this moving and informative film, at times quite shocking, because there are far too many details to recount here, and Monsanto has been quietly buying up heirloom seed suppliers. We need to act before it’s too late. (Collective Eye Films)
—Seed opens at Cinema Village in NYC 9/23 and at Laemmle Monica in LA 9/30.
This article is a part of the August-September 2016 Success with Integrity issue of Whole Life Times.