Bitter Seeds and a Company that Thrives on Secrecy – by Rebecca Mayer

How are Monsanto genetically engineered crops linked to plastic pollution?

Good question.

It’s clear Monsanto would prefer you didn’t know.

According to Vanity Fair,

For most of its history Monsanto was a chemical giant, producing some of the most toxic substances ever created, residues from which have left us with some of the most polluted sites on earth. Yet in a little more than a decade, the company has sought to shed its polluted past and morph into something much different and more far-reaching—an “agricultural company” dedicated to making the world “a better place for future generations.”

This year, in Bag It’s beautiful birthplace of Telluride, another fantastic film debuted.

Bitter Seeds tells the story of an explosion of farmer suicides in an agrarian area of central India.  Monsanto has been heavily advertising their cotton seeds here.  Farmers buy the seeds at 4x the price of their usual seeds, and then are required to buy the brand’s fertilizer and pesticides.  If the crops do not grow, they fall into debt.  The next year, they are contractually obligated to purchase new seeds, rather than re-planting.  Farmers become caught in a cycle of debt, and the only way they see to escape is through drinking a bottle of pesticide in an ironic gesture, linking them to the object of their troubles.

As I travel through India, I watch people work very hard for very little.  Their days are unvarying.  They work hard; most say prayers; they go home in the evenings to care for their families.  The next day, they arise to do it again.  In the case of farmers, hundreds of millions of people rely on their small farms.  The issue does not just affect them, it affects their nation.  The issue does not just affect their nation, it affects us all.

Read more about the film Bitter Seeds here.

Read more about Monsanto’s effect on worldwide agriculture here.

Vanity Fair goes on to say –

The future of the company may lie in seeds, but the seeds of the company lie in chemicals. Communities around the world are still reaping the environmental consequences of Monsanto’s origins.

Although Monsanto tries to pass itself off as a relatively new company, It has been around a while.  It began in 1901 as “Monsanto Chemical Works”, producing saccharin.  The company expanded to produce plastics, resins, rubber goods, fuel additives, artificial caffeine, industrial fluids, vinyl siding, dishwasher detergent, anti-freeze, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides. According to Vanity Fair, its safety glass protects the U.S. Constitution and the Mona Lisa. Its synthetic fibers are the basis of Astroturf.

I was so disturbed to read that list of hazardous materials.  This is the company that has its eye on dominating the world’s food supply?  And to make matters worse, Monsanto has a long history of denying and downplaying the toxic and lethal effects of its products.

The Vanity Fair article goes on.

For many years Monsanto produced two of the most toxic substances ever known— polychlorinated biphenyls, better known as PCBs, and dioxin. Monsanto no longer produces either, but the places where it did are still struggling with the aftermath, and probably always will be.

These days, according to Food Democracy Now!, the need to stand up to this corporate giant is even more urgent.  Michael Taylor, former Monsanto super lobbyist, is now the current FDA Director for Food Safety, and writing the rules that govern their genetically engineered products.

What can you do?

1.  Stay informed about where and how your food is grown.

2.  Watch the film Bitter Seeds, and keep up with the latest reporting about Monsanto’s actions.

3.  Support Food Democracy Now! and keep this watchdog organization afloat.

Together, in the 2012, let’s keep our food safe!


About bagitmovie

Bag It is a documentary film following the world wide use of plastic bags, plastic's impact on the environment and human health.
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2 Responses to Bitter Seeds and a Company that Thrives on Secrecy – by Rebecca Mayer

  1. nancy sheridan says:

    Story is great. I will get the film and write my reps in congress and senate.
    The ad at the end, though, totally offensive and has NOTHING to do with the story or Bag it! I did not finish watching it after the masogynist scene of the woman being hauled off in her underwear. Crossed the line, totally unexpected on this website and really disgusted me.

    • bagitmovie says:

      Hi Nancy,
      Thanks for reading about this important issue. I am so glad you are moved to take action!
      As for the video at the bottom of the screen, that was not something I included in the blog. It must have been an ad placed there by the blog host, WordPress. Please contact them if it was offensive, and I will do what I can to let them know as well.
      Happy New Year!

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