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Thousands of Farmers Commit Suicide

VIDARBHA, INDIA - The film BITTER SEEDS by Micha X.Peled won the "Green Oscar" at the Cinema for Peace Gala 2013 for exposing the suffering of small-scale farmers in the grips of global agribusiness companies. The documentary follows farmer Ram Krishna Kopulwar's struggle with his Bt cotton field, a GMO variety, fighting drought and plant disease with the threat of losing his land to lenders if the crop fails. In parallel the film describes how Manjusha Amberwar, an 18-year girl whose farmer father committed suicide, is investigating and writing a newspaper article on what is causing farmer suicides in her village.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), are becoming more and more common in global agriculture, despite the lack of knowledge of their long-term effects on human health and biodiversity. Most commonly, however, first in the line of fire are the producers of most of the world's food: small-scale farmers. Some advocates say that GMOs would be helpful in addressing the growing global hunger by increasing crop production; in rudimentary agriculture, however, results have often been quite the opposite.

Global agribusiness companies such as Monsanto have developed genetically modified seed varieties that are said to increase productivity of crop fields. Farmers must buy new seeds every year and the cost of the seeds is much higher than that of traditional varieties. The promises of larger crops are also dependent on the environment in which the seeds are planted: the plants thrive in industrial-scale farms where irrigation is not a problem, yet in very basic conditions where the farmers are dependent on rain the plants are not as productive as advertised. When crops fail, it also causes massive financial distress for the farmers who are unable to repay their debt to loan sharks. This desperate situation has caused thousands of farmers in India to take their lives.

The award to BITTER SEEDS was presented by Ralf Südhoff, spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme, who noted, "This extremely moving film is showing how things can go terribly wrong when we don’t allow these millions of farmers to benefit from a globalized world. It highlights what happens when we make these farmers suffer from these features of global agribusiness, which is actually pushing the ones into misery who actually do the work in the fields, while focusing on the business of seeds and not the farmers’ needs."

We invite you to watch the following films on the topic of genetically modified seeds:

  • BITTER SEEDS by Micha X. Peled raises questions about the human cost of genetically-modified agriculture and the future of how we grow things.
  • FOOD INC by Robert Kenner is an unflattering look inside America's corporate controlled food industry.
  • FUTURE OF FOOD by Deborah Koons offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled grocery store shelves for the past decade.
  • SEED WARRIORS by Mirjam von Arx and Katharina von Flotow asks whether the 'Doomsday Vault', built in the Norwegian permafrost, and containing seeds from around the world, is a practical way of safeguarding the world's biodiversity or a Utopian idea?
  • LIFE RUNNING OUT OF CONTROL by Bertram Verhaag analyzes the controversy of corporations owning "life-forms" and pushing GMOs in 3rd world countries in this film.
  • THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MONSANTO by Marie-Monique Robin is based on her three-year long investigation into the corporate practices  of Monsanto around the world.
  • GMO-OMG by Jeremy Seifert explores the systematic corporate takeover and potential loss of humanity’s most precious and ancient inheritance: seeds.


Bitter Seeds


Seed Warriors