The Peace of Wild Things.
"When despair for the world grows in me
"and I wake in the night at the least sound, "in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be.
"I go and lie down where the wood drake rests
"in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
"I come into the peace of wild things
"who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
"I come into the presence of still water.
"And I feel above me the day-blind stars, "waiting with their light.
"For a time, I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."
Having children makes you start seeing everything differently.
It's the first time that either my wife, Jen, or!
Had to feed someone besides ourselves.
You have a little life to nourish and look out for.
And that responsibility made us think more about food than we ever had before.
And so did my son, Finn's obsession with seeds.
When he was 3 years old, he taught himself how to write letters by copying seed names out of a Seed Savers Exchange catalog.
He's 6 now and has been collecting seeds for half his life.
Finn helped me take my first real look at a seed.
He taught his little brother Scout, too, and I know he'll share his love with his sister, Pearl.
His wonder filled me with wonder.
Which plant will make a lot of seeds?
That's how simple it is.
It's like, every time you just plant one seed, it will like, grow into a plant and it produces like, thousands of seeds.
It's hard enough just raising a family, but then, all these unexpected issues complicate what's already so exhausting.
You find out about toxic chemicals in your house, asbestos in the walls, BPA in baby bottles, methyl iodide on strawberries, lead in toys, arsenic and heavy metals in tap water, antibiotics in meat, flame retardant from furniture in breast milk.
Everything causes cancer and it's all subtle, hidden, latent.
We tried to be awake and make good decisions, to look out for our children and do our best for them, but one thing we totally missed...
We just never heard about it... was GMOs: genetically modified organisms.
Seeds much like my son Finn's seeds but with altered genes and they are in our food for either good or ill, I didn't know, but it bothered me that we are eating them and didn't even know what they were.
I decided to see if anyone else knew about GMOs, and that was the beginning of a very long journey.
We're doing a documentary on food.
Okay. What people eat.
I'm wondering if you eat GMOs?
I don't even know what that is.
Give me one second.
Hey, girls. How are you doing?
I got henna tattoo right over there.
GMO, what's that?
I don't know what they are.
What is that?
I don't even know what it is. What the hell is that?
What is it?
Genetically modified organism.
So, you don't know. They don't know.
I don't know. Nobody knows.
Like, cattle, chicken?
I eat anything.
Any hot chicks eat them?
No, I'm not sure because I don't know what they are.
Does it taste good?
What are GMOs?
GMO, I don't know what it is.
That would not help me.
I don't know. Don't ask me that stuff.
Like, I don't know. Ask her.
Do you eat that?
What are they?
Man, I'm lost.
OK, how do we know if eat it or not?
I heard something about strawberries with fish or something like that.
It's like, gen... genetically made something, I know, but I don't know what the O is.
I don't know what they are.
I don't know what that is.
Genetically modified... organic?
No, gen... genetically modified... organisms. Organisms.
How is it possible that we are also clueless?
It felt weird not knowing something so basic about one of the most essential things in our lives.
I suddenly felt uneasy about all the food we are eating.
So, I did some research to answer a very basic question.
What is a GMO?
According to the World Health Organization, GMOs are organisms in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.
But what does that mean exactly?
It gets complicated pretty quickly.
They involve Agrobacterium tumefasciens and vectors and Ti plasmids and Cry1Ab genes taken from soil-dwelling bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis.
They are glyphosate resistant enzymes called EPSPS and my favorite, a gene gun with protoplast electroporation bombarding cells with gold particles coated with DNA encoding, but in plain English, there are two basic types of GMOs, pesticide producers and herbicide resisters.
A pesticide producer kills insects like Monsanto's Bt corn.
A gene from a naturally occurring bacterium is inserted into the DNA of corn.
The modified corn produces a toxin lethal to insects.
An herbicide resister is immune to weed killer, like Roundup Ready soy.
The DNA is altered with a soil bacterium's gene to make the plant immune to the weed killer called Roundup.
Farmers douse their fields with Roundup to kill every weed and unwanted plant, but even when coated in herbicide, the soy plant remains unharmed.
I couldn't find anything definitive on the health effects of GMOs.
Most studies were only three months in length, done by the same company selling the GMOs.
The studies aren't peer reviewed and they refused to release the raw data to the public.
Were they hiding something?
Were we all a part of some gigantic experiment?
Or maybe GMOs make us stronger and faster and healthier?
But did we even have a choice on the matter?
Was there a way to opt out if you wanted to?
And then something happened that really awakened me to a much bigger story about seeds and food and control.
We, the peasants of Haiti, are the guardians of the seeds of life.
At the moment, we see the seeds of death... invading our country.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
People suffer from crippling poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.
The earthquake made an already desperate situation much worse.
With hundreds of thousands dead and countless bodies lost beneath the rubble and over a million people crammed into tent-cities, the agrochemical company Monsanto offered Haiti
475 tons of seeds.
So, why would poor rural farmers burn seeds?
Was there a hidden threat in Monsanto's donation?
And when she says, "It is disappointing to see people encouraging farmers to burn seeds..."
The people is this guy.
Yes, it's me.
We think that's a normal reaction for a capitalistic enterprise.
Because the objective of Monsanto is to make money.
The objective of Monsanto is not the quality of food that people are eating.
Monsanto's objective is not to protect life.
It's not to protect the environment.
When people like me say these types of seeds are poisonous, when I say these seeds are destroying the life of the land and destroying the people...
That's when I attack the interest of Monsanto.
Stop Monsanto! Chase them out.
Monsanto is poison for the air.
Stop Monsanto! Chase them out.
Monsanto is poison for the people.
Stop Monsanto! Chase them out.
Peasants in the country, Peasants in the North, Peasants in the South, Peasants in the West...
Let's stop them!
It was to change life, the seeds Monsanto sent to us.
We wanted to have our own homegrown seeds to plant.
We plant produce that you can plant every year.
With the Monsanto product, you can plant just one time.
That's why we didn't take it.
They say they have a gift to give you.
It's a gift to kill you.
It's a gift to destroy you, destroy who you are.
Because for us, Seed is something sacred. It's a natural thing.
We marched against it, so they wouldn't leave it in Haiti.
We're headed for a small town called Mirebalais.
And farmers in this area received seeds from the USAID Winner Project and they planted them.
So, this is probably going to be the closest we come to finding these seeds from Monsanto.
We pulled them up and threw them away.
Because they came up withered, turned red.
They weren't good for us, so we pulled them up and threw them away.
They made us pay.
So now we lost both money and seed.
It didn't do us any good.
That's why we say to Monsanto:
Thanks, but we won't continue with them.
There is a choice, and I think consumers have an important role to play in pushing their countries, industrialized countries, to change their mode agriculture.
The Haitians weren't the only ones protesting genetically modified seeds in the biotech industry.
Resistance was springing up all over the world.
For Haiti, accepting Monsanto's gift would mean losing their own seeds, their food sovereignty, an essential piece of their culture and way of being.
And they were fighting for something that we had lost without even knowing we were giving it up.
They believe that the seeds of life are the common inheritance of all humanity, as numerous and diverse as the stars above, owned by none, and shared by all.
No one was marching back home.
There were no protests in the streets.
It was business as usual and people were lining up to eat food that ultimately comes from the same chemical company that the farmers in Haiti were crying out against.
I had to do something, however small.
So I began at the most obvious place: educating my own children.
Boys, I made you some GMO goggles, OK?
Can I have that one?
But let me tell you how they work, OK?
See this part? Uh-huh.
Lets you see inside of the food.
So, you can see if it's got genetically modified food in it.
You got to be really gentle with these.
They're super high tech.
What do you see?
OK, guys, look over there at McDonald's.
Daddy, are you crazy?
There's no GMOs.
Is there anything on the menu that's not genetically modified?
Give me one minute.
Yeah. I'm in search of food that's not genetically modified.
OK. It's kind of a quest I'm on.
I figured we could just go to Whole Foods, the biggest organic supermarket in the county.
But I was wrong.
Eighty percent of all processed foods contain GMOs and even Whole Foods hasn't stayed pure.
You guys don't carry GMOs, do you at Whole Foods?
Um... we're not supposed to.
Thank you, bye.
OK, he said all of our produce are 100% GMO free.
Our meat department is GMO free.
All the meat? Uh-huh.
Is like, GMO-free, they don't eat GMO corn or soy?
If it's not organic, it most likely is fed genetically modified feed.
At the time, I still thought that "All-natural" meant something. It doesn't.
I wonder if this is... it says "All-natural", but milk, since it's not organic, that means it comes from cows that eat genetically modified corn and soy.
So, this ice cream... Daddy...
In our products, sugar listed in ingredients may be beet sugar or cane sugar.
It's not practical for us to isolate and identify genetically engineered ingredients.
In other words, I can't tell you if it's genetically engineered or not.
Well, it is natural.
But we're eating them.
Even if it's genetically modified, do you still like it?
Years and years from now, when you're older, it might hurt you.
Do you care?
But you're going to eat it anyway?
And it's not making me dead still.
Well, if you eat too much of it, it will make you.
This is the best ever.
Were the GMOs the best ever?
Or were they poison like the Haitians believed?
We loaded up the van and went looking for answers.
Five minutes from home, we had to stop for lunch already.
What do you have?
Uh, some ham.
So, that has GMOs in it, too?
What about the cheese?
That is the direction of Monsanto's headquarters, but this is Monsanto's corn that's feeding all of us.
So, you want to get your goggles on to see it?
I'm a farmer and I'm an independent seed sales representative for Pioneer Seed Company.
We have to have chemicals to control weeds so that we can produce the amount of grain that we have, just can't produce it without chemicals.
Unless you're an organic farmer, you're going to purchase chemicals to control those problems.
So, having a chemical company own a seed company is hand in hand.
Watch yourself or you'll get hurt...
How come it's green and red?
It's treatments. There's treatments on it.
That treatment is for pests that are under the ground that will inhibit the growth of the bean from coming out of the ground, worms and bugs and soil borne diseases as well.
Is this Roundup Ready?
That's one of the genetic traits that's in it, is Roundup. OK.
These weigh 59 pounds a piece.
And how much is a bag of corn?
This particular bag of corn here runs about $350 a bag.
That sounds like a lot.
It's a lot.
I've been a dealer for 10 years, and when I first started to sell corn, it was about $80 a bag, corn was.
You need large equipment to get it done fast and it requires a lot of output of money to do that.
The family farm is going by the wayside in a hurry.
Do you see this as like, a good shift?
The fact that we have less people on the farm now, in my opinion, is not good.
It's no different than when you go into a town and the Wal-Mart's are taking over where there used to be Amida's and Alco's and Gibson's and your five-and-ten-dime stores.
My great grandpa in the house that I live in had spiked nails in the attic of the house and he would take the best healthiest ears of corn in the fall of the year and stick them on those spikes and he would just take the ear and jab the ear on to the nail and then it would just sit there and dry.
And then, he would shell those kernels off the next spring and plant them and that's how he raised corn.
In 1860, farmers made up 58% of the workforce, but the rise of industrial agriculture rapidly replaced people with oil and machines.
Today, farmers make up less than 2% of the workforce which means there are more prisoners than farmers in the US.
The farmer community is kind of like a lot of other business, they either had to get bigger or get out.
Your margin per acre is very few dollars, so they've got to do lots of acres to have anything, you know, at the end of the year.
Three thousand acres is considered really just average to small farm.
Is it true that the farmers can't save the seeds?
Yes, it is true.
You cannot save seed to replant because, you know, it's patented.
I'm tickled today that the companies are doing the research and providing us with the good seeds that they are because our yields have increased 50% probably in the last 10 to 15 years.
If the yields have increased that much, how about people's actual salaries?
The good Lord kind of takes care of that.
If you're fortunate enough to get rain and make a good crop, yes, you could make a little money.
What it costs to grow an acre of corn, equipment cost, land cost, and if they don't make a yield, they don't make a crop.
That person could be out of business.
I don't think that these have corn syrup, but they do have canola oil.
The funnel cake is fried in it.
Do you still want it?
You don't care that it's genetically modified?
I do care, but I'm going to ignore that I care for a minute.
Does it deter you in any way, seriously? A little bit.
No, it does a little like...
Watching them eat it makes me a little horrified.
It's making them violent.
Thank you for calling customer service.
This is Angela.
I was trying to set up an interview with someone at Pioneer just about the seeds you guys make, the... OK.
I called all the major GMO chemical companies, multiple times, with a simple request, as a concerned father.
Are these products safe?
There was avoidance, suspicion, transferred calls.
Nobody knows were to direct me.
Is there a pretty likelihood that I'll be able to get an interview with someone at Monsanto or...?
Like I said, I'll pass it on to them and have someone give you a call back.
Weren't they proud of their products?
Wouldn't they want to show off their innovations, how they were feeding all of us?
I left messages with my name and email and phone number, but I never heard from any of them.
Here in Iowa, we're surrounded basically by GMO corn and soybeans.
Is there anything you think I should know?
Well, I think consumer education is key.
And I think the biotech industry would like to keep it that way, that people remain unaware of this issue because, in general, the more people know, the more they're shocked and surprised as you are about this whole issue and the potential negative impacts on human health and the environment.
The corn we see growing around here is actually registered as a... pesticide? As a pesticide...
And then, but it's also a food?
Um... well, that's debatable.
So, would I be accurate in saying that Monsanto is feeding us and my children pesticides?
In a way, you could say that.
You could say that.
How is registered pesticide...
Yeah, it's getting into the food.
Yeah, it's getting into the food.
How is that possible?
You know, that's a lack of regulation.
Well, it's... it's pissing me off.
Yeah. I know.
The more people find out about it...
I mean that... You find out about it...
It's outrageous. It's an outrage.
It's totally, you know, unbelievable.
I mean, I'm... I'm ready to get into a fistfight like, right away. Yeah.
Oh, Mr. Saint.
Go see if they'll chat me up a little bit.
Hey. Hey, how are we doing today?
Good. How are you doing?
May I help you, sir?
I'm working on a documentary on food.
No. OK, just a second.
Here you go, sir.
This is the site rep. You need to talk to her.
She's already on the phone? Yeah.
How did you know?
Hello? How did you call...?
I mean, it's kind of weird that you're calling me and I just wanted to ask somebody about the product and if it's for sure safe and...
You're asking me to leave? I...
Do you guys sell hats like, Monsanto...?
No, I'm sorry. We don't.
Have a good day. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
A woman that I talked to earlier this morning at a different Monsanto facility was on the phone and they handed the phone to me and she said, "Jeremy, you need to leave right now."
Monsanto and the other major agrochemical companies are also the world's biggest seed companies.
The top three companies control over 53% of the worldwide proprietary seed market.
The GMO seeds and chemicals of these giant companies grow most of the food we eat because soy and corn have found their way into nearly everything, cows, chickens, and pigs are raised on them.
So, most of the meat and dairy in this country starts with the GMO crops.
We have a recipe that we use of chemicals that allows us to no till.
So, I put two and a half quarts of Lumax on per acre.
A Lumax has a low level of atrazine and I just need a little more atrazine because it gives me a little more residual.
And then, I put 40 ounces of Gramaxone on per acre.
The two products together will suppress the weeds in this field hopefully enough that I won't have to re-spray it again.
If I do have to re-spray it again, the corn that's planted in this field is Roundup Ready and the Roundup will not affect the corn, but it obviously will kill the weeds.
So, what are your thoughts on organic farming?
I think organics is a choice and I think organics are a good thing.
However, the fact of the matter is organic farmers per acre are not going to produce as much as a commercial farmer is going to that uses all the science that's available.
I feel an obligation to not just the United States but to the whole world that there's a billion people that live on less than a dollar a day.
So, if we all have planted organic, and let's say, we cut our production by 25%, what are you going to tell those billion people, you can't eat?
So, that's why I choose to use GMO seeds or herbicides, fungicides, insecticides.
Now, in a certain point, you have to trust our regulators and our scientists.
I think they're good people.
And we do have, you know, a safe and abundant food supply.
I love all the trees.
That's... The book I'm writing now is "At Home in the Woods."
Pretty... Pretty good, isn't it?
I mean... Yeah.
It's pretty accurate. That's nice.
Yeah, I go out here like an old fool.
Well, I'll show you out here.
I still grow a little open pollinated corn just to thumb my nose at Monsanto Claus.
How do you do that?
How do you grow open pollinated corn surrounded by genetically modified corns?
Well, by now, it's probably contaminated.
Well, the neighbor, he has a cornfield right side of mine this year.
I used to be able to play it so that where he had corn, I have corn far enough away that hopefully it wouldn't pollinate.
A farm can be contaminated by either GMO seed or pollen.
Insects or wind carry GMO pollen for miles spreading it to non-GMO crops.
Their DNA is altered, giving them GMO traits like Roundup resistance.
The contaminated farmer is now growing GMOs illegally, in violation of the chemical companies' patent.
Monsanto alone has sued hundreds of farmers for this kind of patent infringement and they have threatened thousands of others with lawsuits, bullying them into buying their seeds and using their chemicals.
The main thing that they say about the reason we need them and this biotech and industrial ag is to feed the world.
Can we feed the world like this?
I need to sit down and tell you about how angry I get when they say they're going to feed the world, you know.
That's just... I don't know if... if, uh... uh, GMO grains are better or worse for you or healthy or not healthy.
I don't know, don't know anybody who does know, but that's not the point to me.
These people are trying to patent nature.
They're trying to patent all the, you know, nature really.
They own it.
In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled that living organisms could be patented.
The race to own the building blocks of life had begun.
To think they could own nature, patent plants like that.
I don't think it's moral.
And it's now the accepted practice.
I'm very concerned of what we eat and I will eat without doubt anything I produce with no hesitation.
I'm uncomfortable with the patenting of the seeds.
Just because it's ownership of... of life and, and it seems strange that you could patent something that's, that's living.
Let me give you an example.
Can we walk down here? Yes.
This oats niche is for the Amish Market because it yields well and cuts well with the binder, and I'm not saying that I'm for patenting seed.
I'm just saying by allowing them to patent this germplasm Yeah.
It gives them an opportunity to get that money coming in to help fund the research.
It's become very difficult to avoid genetically modified food and the reason I want to avoid it or think that I want to avoid it is because it's like, the science is still out.
My fear is not from the genetically modified seed, what we're putting on that genetically modified seed and how much of that is absorbed by that plant.
The seed itself, the genetic modification, will not hurt you, but if it's resistant to Roundup and we spray that plant with Roundup, does any of that Roundup get in to the grain.
And that's what you said has not been tested and not brought forth to the public and that's true.
Now, walk down here with me.
This is a giant ragweed.
Giant ragweed is resistant to glyphosate in eight or nine states now.
So you... If you dump Roundup on this, it's not going to kill it?
There is resistance here and it's becoming greater all the time and they have identified, I don't know, 9 or 10 or 12 resistant weeds to glyphosate, but there's different chemistry you can use to control them.
In this field right here, if there were no chemicals, you would see nothing but this and there would be no crop, none, because this would take over.
Can you eat that? No.
Technologically, we are to the point where we're going to have to deal with genetically modified germplasm.
Are you a religious man?
You don't have to be.
Yes, but I don't go to church every Sunday.
Well, that doesn't mean anything, but I'm just wondering from a religious perspective if you, you know, believe in creation or God or even... or even believe in evolution that, now, with genetic modification, we've done something that has never come before.
We sort of are playing God and taking, you know, one organism over here and another one and jamming them together.
But we haven't created a new gene.
We're just modifying the old... We're taking...
We've taken a gene from a plant that is resistant to glyphosate naturally and insert it into a plant that we want to produce to feed the world.
From the very beginnings of agriculture, over 10,000 years ago, humans have struggled with pests.
For a millennia, we grew our food organically without any chemical inputs, but around 900 A.D., Chinese farmers began using arsenic sulfides.
By the 1800s, lead and arsenic pesticides filled orchards.
The deadly gamble of poisoning insects without poisoning ourselves had begun and was about to get much worse.
After World War II, the battle with nature became an all-out war.
Chemicals produced for explosives and nerve agents were reformulated as fertilizers and pesticides, then rained down on farmland around the world.
In 1945, 200 million pounds of pesticides were used.
By 2000, it had ballooned to 5.1 billion pounds.
Over 500 species of bugs are now resistant to pesticides.
GMOs emerged in the '90s as the industry's most advanced weapon against nature, plants engineered to produce pesticides and withstand deadly weed killers.
But as weeds and bugs quickly adapted, the cure became a curse.
Roundup Ready crops gave rise to Roundup resistant weeds and they're ravaging fields across the country.
Horseweed, Ripgut Brome, Annual Bluegrass, Hairy Fleabane, Goosegrass, and the monstrous Pigweed can bathe in weed killer and still grow up to 3 inches in a single day.
Bugs like weeds have adapted more quickly than we ever thought possible, overcoming our deadliest chemical concoctions.
Superbugs like the Western Corn Rootworm have found a chink in the frail GMO armor.
The ravenous Cotton Bollworm feeds on the Bt toxin engineered to destroy it, and now, it's stronger than ever and has an insatiable appetite.
See this gigantic cornfield?
It stretches on forever and ever?
When my grandparents were kids, they used to run and play in the cornfields because all the corn is really close together this way, but the other way they're rows and when you go inside, you can run down the rows, Cool.
Inside this huge cornfield.
Do you guys want to do that? Yeah.
But listen, the problem is this is genetically modified corn and it's been modified to produce its own pesticide.
So, it actually is a pesticide. OK.
So, we have to wear these special suits.
What are we doing?
Well, I'll show you.
What's this thing? OK, then your arm goes in there.
Not every kid gets to play in a GMO field of corn.
We're almost ready to have fun.
And you just have to breathe really hard like this... because it's cleaning the air, right?
This is like, turning into a nightmare.
I don't know where they are.
Was that fun?
Please, can we do it again?
Can I have water?
Yeah, we'll get some water.
Oh, I couldn't hardly breathe.
Many of the problems that farmers begin to spray for are there for a reason.
They're taking advantage of a weakness in the system that we've created as farmers and I'm not suggesting that any farmer that uses chemicals in their production system is a bad farmer or doing anything that they're not being told to do.
USDA says, in Iowa, that for every bushel of corn we produce, we're losing 44 pounds of topsoil on average.
Now, we can do that for a period of time.
States like Iowa are blessed with tremendous resources in terms of soil, but we can't do it forever.
What we're doing is we're trading short-term production for long-term unsustainability.
And that's just a tradeoff that we just can't afford to make for future generations.
We're not suggesting that we go backwards.
We're suggesting that we take advantage of that technology that makes sense but really discard those pieces of technology that aren't in our best interest as a society.
After 30 years of side by side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture, the Rodale Institute's farming systems trial proved that organic yields match conventional yields.
You're telling me that organic corn and soy will produce...
The same. Just as much as conventional genetically modified?
In the beginning, the GMO outperforms.
It really does well under perfect conditions, but there is no longevity to it.
And in times of flood or drought, organic crops actually perform better.
It's not three years of data.
It's not 13 years of data.
It's 30 years of data.
It's hundreds of scientists and it's hundreds of peer reviewed publications.
So, what was going on?
The industry's strongest argument to justify their chemicals and GMOs and the ever-increasing price to farmers and the environment was that we had to have them to feed the world.
They spend millions on advertising to convince us that there's no other way.
Seven billion people, one billion of whom are malnourished.
Today, the population growth is occurring in Asia and other parts of the world.
How we are able to produce food, increase it, while at the same time being able to supply to those in need, is going to be the challenge that we face.
There's a billion people on earth going hungry right now and many of them are farmers, small farmers.
We have the tools in our hands today to address the challenge of global food security.
Anybody that says we're going to be using GMOs and Roundup a thousand years from now to feed ourselves is deluding themselves.
It's just not going to happen.
But if we talked about organic systems being in place for a thousand years, we know that that can work.
So, the myth that organic can't feed the world has been disproven.
We can feed the world and what we know now is that we can feed the world well.
OK, boys, we're here.
It's Seed Savers.
Do you see it?
Look at that.
Dude, this is killing me already.
I've been waiting for like, years to go to Seed Savers.
Like, I thought I would never go to Seed Savers like, now I finally get to.
Here we are, my son.
And and my third farm to go to in my life.
What are you going to look for here?
This was the farm of endless diversity whose seed catalog had captured Finn's imagination when he was 3.
And that passion for seeds had led us here.
Someone has to be paying attention to all the pieces.
All the genetic diversity that we have, it needs to be identified, saved, and distributed and enjoyed again and grown in people's gardens.
We started Seed Savers with that idea of seeing if there were any other people out there interested in saving old seed and there was.
Today, we have 24,000 different accessions of seed in our collection.
We're saving genetic diversity.
So, until we know, we can't make a decision that we'll never need a amai tomato again in our food culture, but we shouldn't through it out.
And so, we're saving all the pieces and that's what this is.
It's a beautiful puzzle.
When you see this, how could you let this disappear?
Seed Savers was a tiny oasis of crop diversity in a massive ocean of sameness.
We learned that in the last hundred years in the United States, up to 93% of our crop varieties have vanished.
They are gone for good because we have replaced diversity, seed saving and sharing, and the farmers themselves with the corporate-run industrial monoculture.
The sheer immensity of what we have lost is a tragedy on its own, but it's much more than losing the beauty and flavor of those varieties.
As we lose genetic diversity, we lose traits that could be the key to saving our crop from diseases or pests or the changing climate.
Loss of diversity threatens our very survival on this planet.
I want to go over the rainbow, Mama.
I was continuing on to Washington, D.C., without my family.
They needed a break from the road, but I had to keep on going.
Don't eat McDonald's.
Yeah, I am going to eat them.
As I drove through field after field of identical GMO soy and corn and cotton drenched in pesticides and herbicides, owned and patented by giant chemical companies, I wished I could reach out and take back the land for my children.
The reason I'm here is finding out about GMOs, finding out that a lot of the food I'm feeding my children has GMOs in it and why is it that these are not labeled and what's being done?
Well, first of all, of course, it should be labeled.
I don't know what the impact of consumption of genetically engineered food does to the human body.
I... I don't know.
One thing for sure, precautionary principle would dictate that you should give people a choice of whether or not they're consuming these products and if people choose to consume genetically modified food, they should do so knowingly.
In Europe, if anything is written GMO, people would just leave it on the shelves and that's why the industry doesn't want to label because they know that that people could actually say, "Hmm, if I have a choice, I take the non-GMO."
That led me to introduce to the House of Representatives a number of bills covering GMOs including a labeling bill and the labeling bill would require that everything that was genetically modified have to, have to indicate that.
Well, that's when Monsanto went to work.
It seemed possible that Vermont could pass the bill because the people in the state of Vermont wanted to see that legislation passed, but our friends at Monsanto threatened to sue the state if that bill was passed.
We've moved forward on the GMO bill and delighted to see Republican and Democrat representatives and Senators with us all of whom believe as we do that people have the right to know what they're putting in their bodies.
Connecticut's GMO labeling provision was eliminated after Monsanto threatened to sue the state.
State after state has attempted to label GMOs, but none have succeeded.
And yet, over 60 countries around the world require labeling of GMOs including Russia, India, even China.
By far, the biggest attempt to label GMOs at the state level was California's ballot initiative proposition 37.
Over six million people voted to label GMOs in California, but the industry spent over 45 million dollars to defeat it and won a narrow victory by just 3% of the vote.
You said it's in all of the foods, 80% of the foods?
80% of processed foods.
And I eat a lot of processed foods.
So, you eat GMOs, but you didn't know it?
I don't eat processed foods.
Do you eat out ever?
Do you eat meat, sort of dairy... Yeah, I don't eat meat, no, no, no meat, no dairy.
Wow. Very good. Do you eat soy?
93% of soy is genetically modified.
Oh, why you have to tell me that.
So, if you eat out, if you...
Oh, we eat out all the time.
Do you eat 100% organic or just...?
OK. So, you eat GMOs?
We have an organic garden here in the back of the White House, and it symbolizes good healthy food, and then, behind the walls of the White House, they're promoting chemical food which is untested and we don't know what the health risks are, what the environmental risks are.
This is unbelievable to me that this irony sitting right here is so thick.
Where is the outrage?
Today, we produce 4,600 kilocalorie per person per day at household levels.
That's twice as much as we need.
So, today, we produce enough food to feed 14 billion people.
Now, who is out there saying we need to double and who likes those numbers?
The industry obviously.
In 1992, under heavy pressure from the biotech industry, the FDA declared that GMOs were generally recognized as safe, G.R.A.S., a designation only given to food additives that have gone through rigorous scientific testing and been proven safe by overwhelming consensus from experts.
They didn't have any scientific basis.
There were no peer reviewed studies.
Absolutely, no longitudinal studies.
These are relatively new products and they then opened the gates up.
These foods can create new allergens.
They can make a nontoxic food toxic.
They can lower immune response.
They do lower nutrition.
We've heard this from our government scientists they weren't listening to, but we know that that was there.
The precautionary principle says that if you're not sure, you don't do it.
And that's not what is being done today.
There's something extremely wrong when a government becomes captive to one industry and pushes nonrenewable, debt-creating seeds, that destroy biodiversity and independence and self reliance.
And we can see now all of sudden how this all fits together and who is behind the government.
It's always the industry and we know the revolving door policy here in the US.
Michael Taylor is the revolving door poster boy.
In 1976, Taylor became a staff attorney for the FDA.
Then he joined a law firm representing Monsanto, then back to the FDA where he oversaw policy for Monsanto's genetically engineered bovine growth hormone.
From there, he headed up Food Safety and Inspection at the USDA.
Then, back to Monsanto.
Finally, he has returned to the FDA as the second highest-ranking official pushing the deregulation of genetically modified alfalfa and salmon.
Michael Taylor is one of many who used government to feed corporate greed at public expense.
We tried talking to as many experts and politicians as possible, but the rabbit holes were endless because GMOs involve almost everything you can think of, world hunger, international trade, the patenting of life, the rights of corporations now defined as people, the corporate takeover of government and universities, the loss of independent research and science, anti-trust investigations, the multibillion dollar farm bill and our tax dollars essentially subsidizing this whole mess, the future of food and seed, peak oil, and climate change, labeling and the right to know and choose as free people, but what it all really boiled down to was one thing.
Why are we doing this is really the question.
And the answer is very clear because it is huge money.
In the end, a few companies will control what the farmer grows and what you have in your plate.
One of the things we've learned in the last five years is that we can have seemingly powerful institutions that turn out to be extremely vulnerable and brittle.
Our banks in the financial collapse were too big to fail.
OK. Well, our energy system and our agricultural system are just as top heavy and just as vulnerable.
And what that means is not as with the banks that we should like, bail them out because they're too big to fail.
It means that anything that's too big to fail is too big and we need to build down this system, spread it out, make it more stable, and I think that's the key.
We do not know the effect of this grand experiment that is being vested upon humanity by the purveyors of genetically modified organisms.
If, in fact, we are what we eat, then we certainly should be mindful of the nature of the products we are consuming so we know what we will become.
The sun just went behind the clouds There's darkness all around me now I've just destroyed the world I'm livin' in
I broke her heart so many times And now I've finally broken mine And I've just destroyed the world I'm livin' in
What made me think that I could go on hurtin' her I should have known there had to be an end But schools of love are taught by fate We never learn till it's too late And I've just destroyed the world I'm livin' in
I was worn out and overwhelmed and needed to get away from everything for a while.
So, I took my family to one of our favorite camping spots in the Sequoia National Forest.
Is there anything sacred left?
Will they genetically modify these ancient giants to grow faster so we can harvest more wood?
There are nearly a hundred new GMO vegetables and fruit in the pipeline waiting to be released.
GMO eucalyptus trees are already being grown.
There are glow in the dark rabbits and cats, spermicidal corn, goats that lactate spider silk protein, salmon that grow four times faster, and thousands of other science experiments altering the world around us mostly for profit.
Even human genes, thousands of them in our bodies right now have been patented by companies and universities.
Are there any limits to what we will do, to what can be owned?
Just because we can do it, does that mean we should?
Who is watching over this new power to alter creation?
Whoo-hoo, I caught a rainbow trout.
After Washington, D.C., I had trouble trusting anything even the rainbow trout.
Have we really escaped GMOs way up here in the wilderness?
All the fishes eat are these pellets.
This food is sponsored by the FDA. Like, it's all approved.
Pretty much it's like what they give chickens and stuff.
They're like steroids to make them bigger.
Where do all these fishes go?
We have a different hatchery.
There's 23 different hatcheries in California, but pretty much, we'll just put them in lakes for fishermen.
Do you know who the supplier is?
Silver Cup is one and then the other one is Rangen.
Hello, this is Leon.
Yeah. Hi, may I speak to someone about the ingredients in your fish pellets?
What's... Before you eat it?
The main ingredients, you have fishmeal and wheat flour.
You got some soybean meal and it could be genetic modified.
I don't know that for sure.
But I know it's not organic.
So, there you have it.
Rainbow trout caught way up in the Sequoia National Forest with your children in a beautiful pond and you catch that first fish as a 4 or 5-year old boy and it's genetically modified.
What a world we live in. Unbelievable.
Our kids still looked out at the trucks in the evenings begging me with their eyes, knowing that the trucks were filled with stuff that tasted like heaven on earth and they wanted it bad.
Who doesn't want to buy their children ice cream on a hot summer day?
But I felt increasingly uneasy about it because I was beginning to understand what's really hidden inside a simple ice cream cone.
Opting out of a type of food like GMOs that are everywhere means opting out of culture and tradition and we weren't ready to do that completely.
Hey, what about our candies?
I want candy.
Everyone was getting tired of my obsession with GMOs.
We still didn't know if there were any health risks unique to GMOs.
So, we let our kids have fun with their friends and experience the excitement of Halloween.
Candy at every door poured out by adoring strangers.
That's for you.
Did you draw this downstairs?
What is it?
Oh, I see some cavities.
Yeah, I thought... They're trying to get you...
I thought I actually saw some for real.
Starting to form.
From all the sugar?
I have some black teeth.
Some black teeth? Yeah.
I hope not. Why?
You're too young.
Did you know that in one day, I'm going on a plane all the way to Norway to this island called Svalbard and it's almost all the way up to the North Pole?
On this island, they've created the Svalbard Global Seed Bank.
Do you know how cold it is inside the vault?
Minus 15 or 20 decrees in the coldest parts.
You go through this tunnel underground and it's inside this mountain and that's where all the seeds from all over the whole world.
The seeds are about 135 meters into the mountain.
We're talking about the most secure seed bank in the world.
It's an insurance policy.
What we mean to do is, of course, to prevent extinction in the future.
We have 700,000 samples coming from every country on earth.
In every country, the food industry is the largest industry that you find.
In the US, a quarter of the trucks rolling down the road have something to do with the food industry, and at the very base of that, at the very foundation of that, what makes the whole thing possible, the whole food industry, food security, our life on earth, it's seeds.
This crop diversity is a common heritage.
And so, when you walk into the seed vault, what you see is, for the first time that I can think of in my lifetime, countries, virtually all countries in the world, coming together for a common endeavor with a common purpose that's very long-term and it's positive.
I think there's a lesson to be learned there, about an awareness of interdependence and what that means in terms of our responsibilities to each other and how we ought to be treating each other.
We haven't found any GMOs in this entire island.
We found a bottle of ketchup.
It was Heinz American Ketchup made in Germany with sugar instead of corn syrup.
So, you have American companies making products for Europe differently.
Instead of corn syrup, they're using sugar.
We're doing a documentary on GMOs, genetically modified organisms. Oh yeah.
Norway is quite strict about that.
It's not allowed.
So, Norway is very...
I think Norway is seeing it as a very dangerous thing.
That is kind of... we don't want to...
We don't want to eat or use or anything like that.
So, that's always when you go to school in Norway and you have your kind of science book here.
You learn the dangers of it. Yeah.
We don't want to know what's going to happen if you eat or do things like that. So...
So, you don't eat them?
No. In a Norwegian market, it's not allowed.
So, it can well happen that I've eaten it, that's it's been in some corn or something like that, I don't know how good they are at separating things, but like, by the law, it's not allowed.
It's a weird thing to think about though because if you're eating a tomato and you have the genes of the scorpion inside the tomato, it's like, it's not the way nature made it.
In order to be approved in Norway, a GMO will be evaluated according to our gene technology act.
This is an act from 1993 which says that a GMO should not have any health risks or environmental risks.
In addition, it should contribute to sustainable development, be a benefit to society, and ethical.
So, this broader approach to GMOs are very good in order to capture all the different elements that we should take into consideration when we say yes or no to a certain GMO.
Historically, the greatest threat to crop diversity has been the modernization of agriculture.
If you want an agricultural system that's vibrant and healthy and doesn't require lots of pesticides and other chemicals and gigantic amounts of fertilizer and water, then you're going to need the diversity in the seed vault.
It's absolutely necessary to that type of clean, healthy, green agriculture.
Well, I thought we were going home after Norway, but we've ended up in France because this a two-year study on the health impacts of GMOs and Roundup was just released by this Dr. Seralini, and this is a question I've had from the very beginning when I first found out about GMOs and that was never, has never been really answered.
It's what are the health impacts of GMOs, if any.
Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini is a professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen and serves as president of the scientific board for the committee of independent research and information on genetic engineering.
Seralini set out over two years ago to conduct the most thorough toxicological test on the health impacts of Monsanto's Roundup Ready NK603 GMO corn which was approved in the European Union almost a decade ago and after only a three-month study by Monsanto itself.
Seralini's plan was to study it over the full life of a rat with the aim to predict how humans might be affected by consuming GMOs.
Beyond the GMO corn itself, he tested the health effects of Roundup, the most prevalent herbicide in the world, found in our soil, streams, ail; rain, and recently in human urine.
What Seralini found after two years of detailed analysis went beyond this own projections and concerns.
His findings erupted throughout Europe.
Well, I really appreciate you taking the time.
So, I guess my first question is, as a scientist and as the lead author of this two-year study, do you think there are implications for human health from GMOs?
Of course, I think there are severe implications for human health due to my research.
We have demonstrated clearly that, in males, especially livers and kidneys, were reached at the very high level.
Kidneys were also reached in females, but females were prone to big mammary tumors.
The first signs of health effects occurred in the fourth and fifth months, results that three-month studies would have never seen.
At 14 months, 10 to 30% of treated females developed tumors.
There were no tumors in the control group.
At 24 months, 50 to 80% of females had up to three tumors per animal.
The groups treated with Roundup showed the greatest rates of tumors at 80%.
Pituitary glands in females were the second most affected.
The androgen and estrogen balance in serum was modified by both GMO corn and Roundup treatments.
In males, the liver, hepatodigestive tract, and kidneys suffered most and estrogen levels more than doubled in males with the highest Roundup treatment dose.
We've been eating GMOs in some form in the United States for 15 years.
So, why aren't people walking around with big tumors or obvious health effects in our country?
So, what would translate six months in a rat's life to human years?
Two years of a rat is an entire life.
So, as tumor arise, mostly by the end of the first year and within the second year, so that means at the end of the first part of the life which is around 30 to 40 and we are surprised to see a lot of breast tumors in women within this part of life.
We don't know what they are due to.
I'm not saying that everything is due to GMO, but I think that GMO could contribute to some extent to these tumors.
We have the fact that Roundup can kill human cells at very low levels and even lower levels close to the levels you find in the river or in the tap water, then you have hormonal effect, hormonal imbalance within the cells that are necessary to form the genital system, for instance.
Less than a day after Seralini's study was published in France's top scientific journal, the Science Media Centre of London put out a press release discrediting the report with criticisms from eight top scientists, all of them with strong ties to the biotech industry.
They are well known, these people that defend Monsanto because they are the first one to show in the media to say, "Well, Seralini's study is nothing."
They don't want to open the basket in order to show what they have done.
They can renew the tests on their own and show what happens, but in the meantime, we should request to forbid these products.
Professor Seralini was widely criticized for the type of rats he used, the Sprague-Dawley variety, but this was the same kind of rat Monsanto used in its studies to prove the safety of its GMO NK603 corn.
Their three-month study wasn't questioned but instead led to its market release in the EU.
Seralini was also criticized for not releasing his study's raw data, but he has offered to do so if Monsanto will also release its raw data.
Monsanto has refused.
The shame is that in North America, you don't have any traceability of the food, so you don't know really who has eaten what.
Everybody is eating contaminating levels of these products.
Ninety-eight percent of agricultural edible GMOs are just made in the countries where there is no labeling.
So, the first thing is to obtain labels, but there is another simple thing that doesn't cost one dollar but that will change the world.
You request by the law the transparency on the blood analysis on rats that have allowed the authorization the market's release of GMOs and then we will really go in another world in the real 21 st century, I hope.
There may be legitimate criticisms of Seralini's study, the number of rats and the kind used, but shouldn't his discoveries give us pause and more reason for further research?
The tumors, liver and kidney damage, were far higher in rats eating GMO corn and Roundup than they were in the control group.
That alone is frightening.
Shouldn't we verity his study before blindly dismissing him and feeding our children GMOs.
It would cost these multibillion dollar companies almost nothing to fund independent transparent studies to test the effects of the consumption of GMOs for all to see, but they won't do it.
Neither will our own government.
What if Seralini is right?
Are we willing to risk dismissing him?
One of the reasons I don't like GMOs and I have a problem with these biotech companies, they say to the farmer you can't save the seeds at the end of the year.
What if they came in here and told you, "You can't save these seeds because we own them.
You have to come buy them from us."
I would not like that.
Because I want to save seeds.
If nobody buys them, then the company will just give up and not do it anymore, not give food to those stores, and then, there won't be any of that food anymore.
Finn's love for seeds isn't going to instantly solve the onslaught of GMOs by giant chemical companies, but it's a starting place because, ultimately, it's not about being against GMOs or against big industrial agriculture and chemicals.
It's about being for what is good and healthy and right for us in the planet.
If we do that, the bad stuff won't have a place.
We are just now learning what Sir Albert Howard said so long ago that the whole problem of health and soil, plants, animals, and humanity is one great subject and after 15 years of silence in this country, we are finally beginning to wake up and join with millions of others in a food movement that has become a great awakening around the world.
Change of that system is possible, but there won't be space in that system for certain industries anymore.
New one will be created.
Old ones got to go.
Monsanto and lobbying power of agribusiness, that's all that's coming in the way between ecological systems that protect the planet, provide food, and bring life back to our rural areas in our countryside and our small farms.
Last year, the USDA said for the first time in 150 years that there were more farms in America instead of fewer.
I think that's the single most hopeful statistic I know.
It's clear that people want it labeled, and yet, it's not and why not.
Well, they don't want it enough.
They're not yelling loud enough, you know.
In the defense of the seeds of life, the greatest symbol we can offer... is to burn the seeds, which symbolize money, symbolize death.
In defense, to defend the seeds of the peasants... is to defend the seeds of life.
When you raise your hands and look to the sky, you are looking to God.
You can't control your body.
When you're moving your body like this that means the pain is hurting you.
You can't talk, you're just crying out to God.
This type of dance is a protest.
The dancing and singing is a protest against GMOs.
It's empty in the valley of your heart The sun, it rises slowly as you walk Away from all the fears And all the faults you've left behind The harvest left no food for you to eat You cannibal, you meat-eaten you see But I have seen the same I know the shame in your defeat But will hold on hope And I won't let you choke On the noose around your neck And I'll find strength in pain And I will change my ways I'll know my name as it's called again
I certainly would like to know what I'm eating.
Absolutely, hundred percent.
You know, if there's nothing to hide, then disclose it and let people decide if they want to eat that.
Yeah, I'd like to know what I'm... what I'm eating.
Yeah, we should know.
We should know what's in our foods.
Of course, they should be labeled because you should know what you're eating.
I mean, you know what you're putting in your body.
I mean, that's simple.
Tell the truth and reveal.
If you hide it, then it means probably there's something haywire.
At the end of the day, it's your health and you have to know.
Your voices, your presence, your energy is so needed.
We need your voices to get back to Washington, D.C.
We need the members of Congress to hear your concerns.
And I will hold on hope And I won't let you choke On the noose around your neck And I'll find strength in pain And I will change my ways I'll know my name as it's called again
I think you all need to stop giving people ***, that they don't even know what it is.
You need to figure it out before you start serving it.
Isn't that what the FDA is for?
To all the love I lost Hey just tryin' to play boss
To all those friends I hurt I treated em like dirt
And all those words I spewed Nothin' sacred nothing true
To all these ghosts I turn