If you need a reason to despise Monsanto, then watch this movie. It will grind your crackers. It will make you sick to your stomach. It will bring a tear to your eye.
The Future of Food, brings into high relief how our accessibility to seed stock is becoming constricted as agricultural companies genetically modify seeds (GMO) and then claim ownership to that species. As these GMOs mingle with other non-GMO seeds, a new seed is born, and now companies (primarily Monsanto) can claim ownership over that new seed. Even if the GMO seed contaminates a farmer's fields inadvertently, by patent law, it is owned by Monsanto.
One of the big problems is that Monsanto has bought up many seed companies over the years, making it the largest conventional seed company in the world. And, effectively, they now own much of the seed stock out there. So, instead of seed saving from year to year, as farmers have done for centuries, many farmers must now pay Monsanto for these combined seeds or face being sued.
You see, Monsanto likes to go after small and mid-size farmers for patent infringement. They test the farmer's crops and accuse them of patent infringement when they find that their genetically modified seed has contaminated these farmer's fields. Over the last few years, 9,000 letters have been sent out to farmers from Monsanto. Most of the farmers choose to pay in order to avoid lawsuits.
At the filming of this movie there were 100 active lawsuits in US alone. For those that settle, the farmers have to agree to never discuss their settlement. Many farmers believe that they are profiled by the size of their farm so they can be made an example of. And this scares other farmers into not saving their own seed. Those farmers that do fight often spend their entire retirement money - up to $200,000 for one family.
To better explain, if Monsanto's GMO seed gets cross-pollinated into your crops, no matter how it got there (via wind, bird droppings, blowing off a truck, whatever) Monsanto now owns that seed. It now belongs to Monsanto based on current patent law. Even if you don't want it in your field.
So, for a more personal example, let's say I own 15 acres of land on which I grow organic heirloom soybeans. Soybeans that have been grown on my land for the last 5 generations by my ancestors, with seed stock they brought with them from the old country and are now perfectly adapted to my land.
Now, let's say my next door neighbor (we'll call him Soylent Greenpa) grows Round-up Ready soybeans, a GMO crop developed by Monsanto that is resistant to the herbicide, Roundup.
Because the wind tends to blow from west to east and his crops are west of mine, my soybean crops get contaminated with his GMO soybeans. I take my now contaminated crops (unbeknownst to me) and save the seeds. Thousands of them. And I grow a whole new crop of soybeans with them. Monsanto can legally sue me for damages since I am now not only illegally growing "their" soybeans, but since they also own all the seed I have saved.
As an extreme example, most of the canola fields in Western Canada are now contaminated by Monsanto's GMO seed and the farmers are facing this very problem of patent infringement.
Next up, Part 2 of The Future of Food.
Disclaimer: This review is my account of the movie and may be highly fraught with inaccuracies. If you have any comment to add or to help clarify, please feel free.