Dispel any images you may have in your mind about sturdy, independent small farmers nurturing crops by hand and with care; agriculture in the United States today is big business. While this has undoubtedly had some beneficial impacts in the form of increased productivity and standardization of foodstuffs, corporate America tends to look out for its own interests first.
This is perhaps most evident in the DARK Act legislation pending in Congress which:
- Would implement a voluntary labeling scheme for food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
- This would counteract the mandatory-labeling laws in force in more than 30 states and would essentially allow companies to regulate themselves.
- A clear conflict of interest and selling out of the American public.
There are a number of excellent documentaries that explore this and related issues, and they’re recommended viewing for anyone looking to gain a broader perspective on the subject.
GMOs, seed patents, and the corporatization of food production in the Unites States are some of the topics tackled by Deborah Koons Garcia’s 2004 documentary. The consequences of the new, industrial ways of doing farming include driving farmers off their land, creating a dependency in Western society on a few large agricultural enterprises and increasing the susceptibility of food crops to diseases and pests. Similar factors are at play in our neighbors, Canada and Mexico. This documentary can be seen a number of different ways and it’s encouraged that all viewers share the experience.
2. Food, Inc.
Emmy Award winner Robert Kenner made this documentary about agribusiness in the United States in 2008, and it is still currently available on Netflix and DirecTV. Kenner examines the production of meat and grains along with the use of pesticides and other hazardous chemicals. He finds that the food delivered to our supermarkets and restaurants is often unhealthy and produced using inhumane techniques. Many large companies, like Monsanto and Tyson Foods, were invited to rebut the allegations contained in Food, Inc. but they have all declined to do so.
Directed by Ana Sofia Joanes and released in 2009, FRESH documents the lifestyles of farmers who are rebelling against the standard ways of doing things by eschewing the use of fertilizers and other products pushed by multinationals. The focus is on sustainable farming practices and the growing of fresh produce in contradistinction to the environmental harm and chemically altered foods created through industrial processes. In addition to farmers, the film features the stories of supermarket owners, intellectuals and businesspeople who are trying to make a difference. The official website offers the various screening materials.
Now that greedy corporations are patenting seeds, the future of agriculture lies in the hands of the patent holders. As explored in Seeds of Freedom, co-produced by The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network in 2012, large firms can introduce genetic modifications into crops, and farmers have little choice but to use these new seeds. The movie, available on Vimeo, contains interviews from people at various advocacy groups around the world as well as individual small farmers who have been affected by the actions of profit-seeking companies.
5. GMO OMG
Filmmaker and father of three Jeremy Seifert documents his quest for answers regarding genetically modified organisms in this 2013 film, which you can buy through his site. He found that the risks and benefits of these crops are unknown despite the fact that they’re widely available on the marketplace. Most of the studies that purport to demonstrate their safety were actually conducted by the manufacturers of GMO foods themselves. At the same time, evidence is mounting that they may in fact be quite harmful indeed.
If enough people familiarize themselves with the issues raised by these documentaries, we can bring political pressure to bear to force agricultural businesses to conduct themselves in a more honest, open and ecologically friendly way. While it may seem hopeless to pit small producers against billion-dollar companies with armies of lawyers, remember that grassroots action has led to change in the past, such as mandatory testing of pharmaceuticals before release and the creation of the FDA. With the future of our planet and our progeny at stake, we ought to at least get as much information as we possibly can about GMOs and other possibly harmful activities of large business conglomerates.
It’s time to take a stand – learn all you can! Help to make a safer, healthy future for our children! Ask yourself what are doing today to stop the poisoning of our food and the big corporations from taking away our right to know?
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