Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Movie Night: The Future of Food - Part 1

The Future of FoodLo and behold, I'm starting a new series.

Sure, between the challenges, polls and series, I keep myself entertained. And, hopefully, you guys too.

This next series I'm calling movie night, wherein I watch an environmentally-related documentary and report back what it's all about.

Tonight's Feature Presentation: The Future of Food, Part 1 of 2

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 (it did as I watched a child eat a pesticide laden strawberry at the end of the movie).

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, owning 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.

Soylent Green is People!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.

Whew! That should give you something to chew on...

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.


Anonymous said...

Why is this even legal?! Farmers have a tough enough time already and now they have to worry about Monsanto seeds contaminating their fields? I couldn't imagine being a farmer and having to buy seeds from the devil in order to survive.

Chile said...

That movie made us very angry and more determined in our efforts to eat local, naturally grown food as much as possible.

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.

We also had some discussions on the "whatever" manner of seeds getting into fields...

Greenpa said...

LOL!!!!!!! oh, I'm gonna get ya for THAT one!!!

And JUST in case anyone is wondering, no, I don't grow roundup ready anything... :-)

Crunchy Chicken said...

That's right. Soylent Greenpa is Greenpa's evil twin. Mwooohahaha!

Rechelle said...

That is seriously messed up. Stuff like that makes me crazy.

heather in europe said...

May I recommend a film for a future film night?
'Our daily bread' is a documentary about food production in Europe. It's an interesting look at how industrialized and mechanical everything has become.

Link to film's website (in English):

Christy said...

This was my take on the movie when I watched it and it really pissed me off! Our food system is so screwed up it is really scarey.

e4 said...

The latest sinister plot by big ag (in Pennsylvania and Ohio at least) is to get rules enacted that prohibit milk suppliers from saying "rBGH Free" or "synthetic hormone free" on their labels- with the FDA's blessing, no less.

There's a big grass-roots battle to keep this from happening in Ohio, and to reverse what already happened in Pennsylvania. I'm sure those are not the only two states...

Natural Louisville said...

If the people at Monsanto can convince themselves anything they do is ethical, they must be moral Houdinis.

Worse, the American public seems decidedly unconcerned about GMOs -- probably because a lack of labeling means they don't even know what GMOs are, let alone that they unknowingly buy them.

You can sign the Millions Against Monsanto petition here:

Natural Louisville said...

P.S. LOVE the name of your blog! It made me hungry for some fantasy-world KFC ...

Catherine said...

Wow. I'm putting this on my netflix list. Thanks for the review.

Kristi said...

I was just discussing Monsanto with my husband last night. Netflix, here I come....

Anonymous said...

I have great faith that someday Monsanto's argument that they own every instance of their patented genes no matter where they show up will come back and bite them in the butt.

Does anybody remember Starlink corn? Maybe that only made big news in the Midwest. One of these days there is going to be an outbreak of GMO contamination in the EU or Japan or China (anyplace with more clout in the world than Mexico) and the US is going to be sanctioned by the WTO for failing to contain GMO grains - and then our federal courts will open up to lawsuits against Monsanto and its ilk for damages caused to grain exporters (because nobody cares about what Americans eat, but the USDA and various corporate interests care about our balance of trade)

ST said...

"Grind your crackers," No kidding!

I don't think my blood pressure would survive watching that movie. It made me mad just reading your review.

Someone please tell me there's hope in this world...

crstn85 said...

law is so complicated, beyond my capacity to understand in fact.

by the way, i'm changing my temperature pledge to 64 degrees day and night because on Saturday there will be two new additions to my family- baby degu's! (They're like chinchillas).

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you are moving up your interests to the next level Crunchy, from the simple toilet paper dilemmas to the people that have world food domination in mind.
How about some recently updated info on how food irradiation has been successfully completely hidden from the US consumer?
Do the readers realize that it is completely abnormal for tomatoes and fruits, organic or not, to sit in the fridge for a month or two and not blemish or rot?
That's radiation.
As for the lawsuits, the law needs to be struck down right away and strictly disobeyed in the meantime.
After all, Monsanto's pollen is trespassing and that's the crime.

DC said...

"Someone please tell me there's hope in this world..."

- Farmers Markets and CSA's are flourishing.

- The organic food sector, while still comparatively small, is growing exponentially (

- Some restaurants are starting to focus on providing local, organically produced food (

- Activists like Indian environmentalist and physicist Vandana Shiva are fighting like hell to stop Monsanto. Watch the trailer for the film entitled Bullshit (now on Link TV)at:

- You and people like you are here.

These things give me hope.

Sam said...

I was so-so about supporting farmer's markets up until this summer. In fact I would buy a fruit or two and then head over to whole foods or acme.

Now, its completely different, besides dry ingredients like flour and wet ingredients like oil, everything is now from the farmer's market - or we do without it. And we've only expanded our culinary experiences and no deprivation here.

The review made me ill. I had heard about the farmer profiled in the trailer previously. Thanks for bringing my attention to the movie, I plan on watching it.

Anonymous said...

Save your seeds! They really are the foundation for food security. I have a "dream box" that contains packets and packets of saved heirloom seeds I hope to plant someday.

Some relevant links...

Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund:

Seed Savers Exchange:

Plants for a Future:

Whole Grain Connection:

Native Seeds/SEARCH:

Seeds Trust:

Seeds of Change:

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy:

From the lion's mouth said...

Not much point having a box of seeds you plan to plant "one day" - most seeds have a limited lifespan and won't germinate after having them in a box for years. You'd be better off joining a seed-savers' network and giving them to someone who will grow them, and then one day when you have somewhere to plant them getting some back.

Anonymous said...

So, I'm curious -- if Monsanto could sue me for violating their copyright, can I sue them for criminal trespass if their genes end up on my property without my consent?

Anonymous said...

I give most of my seeds to others. I keep a small sample of each seed for my future food security and independence. Call it crop insurance.

Proper storage increases the chance for germination, especially in heirloom varieties. But even a seed kept in a box for future use has a better chance of germinating than a seed buried under a ton of paper at the local landfill, which is where so much of our useful kitchen waste ends up.

I wanted to encourage people to look at squash guts in a different light, and to provide a few links to additional information for those who were curious.

And "someday" might include this coming spring, after all. Why harsh on someone else for no reason?