Seed Takes Root In The Sixth Mass Extinction

Earth seeds itself. Then we get involved. Then you get what we have, right now: An extinction. From the makers of Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us?, another exploration of an apocalypse we manufactured with our own hearts and minds.

As many irreplaceable seeds near extinction, SEED reveals the story of passionate seed keepers as they wage a David and Goliath battle against chemical seed companies, defending a 12,000 year food legacy

(San Francisco, CA) — Worshipped and treasured since the dawn of humankind, few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds. SEED: The Untold Story follows passionate seed keepers intent on protecting our 12,000 year-old food legacy. Produced and directed by Taggart Siegel and Jon Betz (The Real Dirt on Farmer John, Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us?), the film premieres on Independent Lens Monday, April 17, 2017, 10:00-11:00 PM ET (check local listings) on PBS.

In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. This once abundant seed diversity — painstakingly created by ancient farmers and gardeners over countless millennia —has been drastically winnowed down to a handful of mass-produced varieties. Under the spell of industrial “progress” and corporate profits, family farmsteads have given way to mechanized agribusinesses sowing genetically identical crops on a massive scale. But without seed diversity, crop diseases rise and empires fall. More than a cautionary tale of “man against nature,” SEEDS reveals the work of the farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers who are fighting a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In this harrowing and heartening story, we meet a wide variety of reluctant heroes working to rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource, from the pueblos of New Mexico to a seed bunker in Norway, from India to America’s heartland, from Peru to Hawaii. Among the dozens of people featured are Will Bonsall of the Scatterseed Project, Dr. Jane Goodall, environmental lawyer Claire Hope Cummings, ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan, botanical explorer Joseph Simcox, Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety, and physicist/activist Dr. Vandana Shiva.

“SEED began with an article in National Geographic that reported that up to 96% of the vegetable seeds available in 1903 have disappeared. The speed and scope of this loss is staggering, and its implications for our future are stark,” said filmmakers Siegel and Betz. “In an era of climate uncertainty, this dearth of diversity is a recipe for catastrophic crop failure and human suffering – not unlike The Great Famine of Ireland that saw the starvation of nearly a million people when their sole crop variety, a potato, was wiped out by blight. SEED explores the hidden fabric of our food and the people that painstakingly and meticulously curate its diversity, fighting the immense corporate power of chemical companies that now control the majority of our food.”

Visit the SEED: The Untold Story page on Independent Lens, which features more information about the film. SEED will be available for online viewing on the site beginning April 18.