Presented by Marda Loop Justice Film Festival.
Directed by Micha X. Peled 2011
An epidemic of farmer suicides in India—one every 30 minutes
Bitter Seeds depicts the bleak situation for cotton farmers in India pressured to buy genetically modified (GMO) seeds from Monsanto that promise higher yields. Seed-pushers urge women to tell their husbands to “plant Bt seeds,” and to illiterate farmers, they hand out leaflets with photos and testimonials from other Indian "farmers," until against their own better judgment, the farmers inevitably succumb to the salesman's pressure.
Traditionally, Indian farmers used seeds from the previous year's crop, and fertilizer made from cow dung and compost. The film explains that the GMO seeds are designed to be sterile for only a single year's use so farmers are forced to buy new seeds every year. The GMO seeds also require expensive pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
Traditional seeds have disappeared. With no other seeds available, farmers become trapped in a cycle of debt trying to make a living growing genetically engineered crops. Many farmers have nothing to offer as collateral besides their land, so if a crop fails due to lack of rain or parasite infestation, and they can’t pay back the loans, they lose everything. Completely broke, broken, and desperate more than 250,000 farmers have killed themselves since 1995, many by drinking the pesticide they spreads on their crops. 88 minutes
Ken Larsen runs a commercial-scale farm west of Red Deer, Alberta, using organic principles to grow barley, non-GM canola and forage crops. A long-time farm activist, he has participated in most of the major farm policy debates in western Canada over the past 30 years. He has numerous publications and articles to his credit and is an occasional commentator on CBC radio. He helped to found the Canadian Wheat Board Alliance.