Musings about our farm, organic farming, regional foods and markets.

Plus, what's in the news about foods, systems and regulations around the world.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

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

I have just watched a documentary movie called Bitter Seeds and found it deeply moving - beautiful for the dignified dress and bearing and determination of the people involved, but also intensely disturbing for the deception perpetrated on these same poor subsistence farmers by controlling corporate interests, namely Monsanto and their network of local agents in India who now monopolize the seed supply with their genetically-modified Bt cotton. In doing so, they continue to drive hundreds of thousands of farmers into debt, depression, and often death at their own shamed hand. Genetically-modified crops threaten to not only disturb, but destroy nature as we have known it. They need to be reined in, continuing with mandatory labeling of foods across North America, such as exists in most countries of the world. All people around the world deserve the right to choose the food they and their families eat by being made aware of the nature of the ingredients.

Article By Dr. Mercola
Posted October 27 2012 
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. "

Passing Prop 37 is Key to Expanding Sustainable Agriculture in North America

It's quite evident that we have no real champions for food safety and labeling of genetically engineered foods within the federal government. But right now we do have a great opportunity to change this situation by circumventing Monsanto's posse entirely.
Although many organic consumers and natural health activists already understand the importance of Proposition 37, it cannot be overemphasized that winning the battle over Prop 37 is perhaps the most important food fight Americans – not just Californians – have faced so far. But in order to win this fight for the right to know what's in our food, we need your help, as the biotech industry is spending tens of millions of dollars for their propaganda.
Please remember, the ONLY reason they're spending this amount of cash to "inform" you in this debate is because they want to PREVENT you from ever knowing that the foods you buy contain genetically engineered ingredients – and this includes trusted organic and all-natural brands! Ask yourself WHY?
Could it be because dozens of studies have now provided scientific evidence that GE foods cause severe health problems, including multiple organ damage, and massive cancerous tumors in the first-ever lifetime feeding study?
The failure or success of this ballot initiative is wholly dependent on your support and funding! There are no major industry pockets funding this endeavor. In order to have a chance against the deep pockets of Big Biotech and transnational food corporations, it needs donations from average citizens.
So please, I strongly encourage you to make a donation to this cause. You can also contact EVERY person you know that lives in California and encourage them to view some of these videos and get educated on the issues so they can avoid succumbing to the propaganda, as Monsanto and company are paying tens of millions of dollars to deceive the voters in California. We need EVERY vote we can to win next month.
The election is only TWO weeks away.
It's important to realize that getting this law passed in California would have the same overall effect as a national law, as large companies are not likely going to label their products as genetically engineered when sold in California (the 8th largest economy in the world), but not when sold in other states. Doing so would be a costly PR disaster. So please, I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can, regardless of what state you live in.
·              Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort, through the Organic Consumers Fund.
·              If you live in California and want to get involved, please contact They will go through all volunteer requests to put you into a position that is suitable for you, based on your stated interests and location.
·              No matter where you live, please help spread the word in your personal networks, on Facebook, and Twitter. For help with the messaging, please see
·              Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the California Ballot. It may be the only chance we have to label genetically engineered foods.
For timely updates, please join the Organic Consumers Association on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.