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SEED: The Untold Story shines light on cultures affected by biochemical agriculture

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An old man in overalls steps wearily into a small shack, which sits as it has for decades on a flourishing green parcel of land. Inside, he digs through shelves of wooden crates, flipping through simple paper packets of seeds. Later, he plants those seeds in his tilled fields and gently pats the soil down with well-worn hands. It’s an image out of pastoral art and poetry, harkening back to a bygone era. Agriculture doesn’t work like that anymore — at least not for most. People like this man, Will Bonsall of the Scatterseed Project, as well as others profiled in SEED: The Untold Story, are trying to regain traditional ways.

This documentary is a tough watch for a skeptic of the GMO (genetically modified organism) scare. We hear about GMOs and herbicides and the dangers of modern agriculture, but it’s easy to ignore if we get our food pre-packaged or at big box stores. But dissecting the complicated history of modern agriculture, and its effects on people all over the world, can provide an eye-opening look at a legacy of colonialism and experimentation that affects entire communities to this day.


The GMO debate offers valid scientific points on either side. But, as SEED explains, genetically modified crops have permeated communities in America, India, Africa and many other places around the world whose agricultural traditions aren’t just an expression of health, but of culture.

SEED visits these communities, talks to those attempting to preserve their heritage in the form of their food. SEED’s value lies in its examination of the effects of capitalist-driven farming practices on populations that have suffered under colonialism. For instance, to the Hopi natives interviewed, corn functions on a figurative level as well as a literal one. Their varieties of corn and their farming practices have been suppressed or snuffed out, but so have many other traditions, resulting in heartache, confusion and cultural trauma. A similar story plays out in India, where biochemical companies have all but replaced India’s natural seed stores with reliance on outside production. In this, the seed represents more than just the seed, it’s an expression of the method of control exerted over countries in a colonialist world.

The stories told (through artful animations and poignant personal narratives) range from heartbreaking to hopeful, and highlight the dedication of indigenous farmers in New Mexico and the resilience of Hawaiian natives who have been fighting biotech companies for decades. While the scientific verdict on GMOs may still be out, SEED at least provides a narrative we don’t often see in mainstream media — the perspective of the colonized. Plus, the screening Sunday will support Pikes Peak Urban Gardens, an organization dedicated to preserving seeds and community gardening/farming locally.

Sunday, Aug. 6, 3-7 p.m., with booths and vendors before the screening, Stargazers, 10 S. Parkside Drive, $15-$25, ppugardens.org.

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