Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Future of Food

If you have an interest in food and agriculture, I highly recommend the film Future of Food.

The film has an agenda, namely to promote what they term "sustainable agriculture" and to disparage the corporations and government regulators that promote industrial farming. It is, however, a very compelling look at, among other things, the frightening loss of crop diversity in American and increasingly in international farming. This loss of diversity is not only a travesty for culinary enthusiasts but also a palpable risk to our food supply.

Also very interesting is the film's coverage of the ruthless tactics that corporations such as Monsanto have employed to exert control over the marketplace by enforcing patents on their genetically modified seeds. The interesting thing about patenting life is that life, unlike, say, a toaster, replicates and spreads. Thus, according to the film, Monsanto's patented genes have found there way into unsuspecting farmer's crops after which Monsanto has had the unmitigated audacity to sue for patent infringement. Using these tactics, Monsanto has, again, according to the film, pressured farmers (who never actually purchased Monsanto seed stock in the first place) into agreeing not to save their own seeds, thereby ensuring the sale of Monsanto seeds. If these farmers are to be believed, this is akin to breaking into cars, installing your own patented stick shift, and then suing the owners for patent infringement.