New Film “Seed: The Untold Story” Sounds an Alarm About Our Food Future

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By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Advisor

“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today”   

We don’t know precisely who originated this saying, but its wisdom speaks to us all.  The story of human civilization is inseparable from our heritage as seed breeders.  Most of our food, medicine, clothing and yes, the beautiful flowers which inspire us resulted from thousands of years of skillful selection and breeding practices drawing upon the abundant genetic diversity of plants.

       Time is short for us to recognize that the future of human civilization is equally as dependent upon the preservation and ethical use of this irreplaceable genetic diversity.  Rapidly shrinking diversity within our cropping systems dramatically increases our vulnerability to pest outbreaks and climate change.  The ten companies which now control nearly three quarters of the world’s seed trade are limiting farmers’ access to these resources while simultaneously promoting novel, often genetically engineered varieties.

      A film currently in production entitled Seed: The Untold Story brilliantly sounds the alarm that our heritage is rapidly disappearing as corporate interests further consolidate their control.  Presenting visionary experts including Vandana Shiva and Diane Ott Whealey of Seeds Savers Exchange , the film lays bare the abject failure of our regulatory systems to preserve genetic diversity or protect the rights of farmers around the world.  With the groundbreaking films The Real Dirt on Farmer John (2005) and Queen of the Sun (2010) already to their credit, the team behind Seed: The Untold Story is in pre-production. You can watch their compelling trailer here

       Since its founding in 1990, OFRF has funded extensive research into which seed varieties are best adapted for organic systems and how farmers can optimize their performance.  For a detailed description of this work, please visit OFRF’s comprehensive grant data base  and search under “seed”.

       While it’s painful to confront the truths presented in Seed: The Untold Story, we must never lose sight that, like all the flowers of tomorrow, the solutions to this crisis live in the seeds of today.  The Senegalese conservationist Baba Dioum said that “In the end, we will save only what we love. We will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."  Seed: The Untold Story teaches us that we are called upon to protect and nurture the genetic heritage of all plants.

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