In the last 20 years, soy production has become the Green Gold of South America, especially for Brazil and Paraguay. But with this agri-business boost comes wretched consequences. That’s what “Raising Resistance” is all about. It is a galvanizing movie meant to not only inform but encourage support for a resistance against unfair and unsafe farming practices.
Some activists were galvanized by information from “Food, Inc.,” where Monsanto and their genetically engineered (GE) barren seeds were exposed. Others were energized by Peled’s “Bitter Seeds” that documented the fading efficacy of GE seeds and chemical sprays.
The basic problem is that GE plants cannot reproduce so farmers have to buy the patented seeds each season instead of replanting. As time wears on, the genetically barren plants lose their strength, resilience and profundity. At the same time, weeds and insects grow resistant to the chemicals used to contain them.
The President of Paraguay, seemingly friendly and supportive of his citizens, knows who butters his bread. While he can restate the complaint of the compesinos about the loss of their land due to interloping Brazilian soy farmers, he doesn’t appear to comprehend the problem with pesticides and herbicides and their effect on other crops, the surrounding land, the water supply and the people.
“Raising Resistance,” like the “5 Broken Cameras” report on the Israeli Wall, is about a group of disenfranchised who try to halt infringement on their territory by the more powerful. Who will politicians respond to – those with limited electoral ability or those with incomes that help support political parties and provide taxes to finance the government?
There are two basic problems that not only the President of Paraguay refuses to solve, but that the majority of the world is ignoring. The first is social. Where will these displaced people go? Where will farmers without training find work if they can’t depend on their farms to provide their needs? In South America, if public assistance is not available or viable, the siren opportunities include drugs, prostitution and theft rings.
The second problem is apocalyptic. What happens when the GE seeds, already declining in yield and disease resistance, completely fail? What happens when the herbicides and pesticides too thoroughly contaminate the land, the water and the air?
You may respond that we will revert back to organic farming with organic seeds. So what happens when we have to depend on the seed storage vault that has those original seeds? They are now owned by Gates, Monsanto, Rockefeller Foundation and the country of Norway. How long will those seeds be viable and who will determine who gets them and at what price?
Perhaps the fate of our food supply is in the hearts of the compesinos who are rising up to resist. Their war is their struggle to retain their livelihood, their land and the health of their families. One compesino leader protests, “In any case it’s better to die than to live on your knees.”
“Raising Resistance” is being shown Oct. 11 as part of the Portland Museum’s Northwest Film Center series on human rights. Dr. Lisa Weasel, Portland State University Associate Professor of Biology and author of the book “Food Fray: Inside the Controversy Over Genetically Modified Food,” will be present to introduce the film.
Portland Art Museum Northwest Film Center
Voices in Action: Human Rights on Film Series
Oct. 4 to Nov. 7, 2012
Directors: David Bernet and Bettina Borgfeld
Writers: Christin Stoltz, David Bernet and Bettina Borgfeld
Featuring: Geronimo Arevalos, Nelson Arevalos, Silvia Arevalos, Dr. Roger N. Beachy, Clemente Busanello, Antonio Cabrera and Jorge Cabrera.
Country location: Paraguay
Languages: Spanish, Guarani and Portuguese with English subtitles
Runtime: 85 minutes
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