Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fed Up! A Review

I recently finished watching Fed Up!, an hour-long movie about our food system and what is so wrong about it. This movie is a bit outdated (2002), but even so, it does a great job at summing up the history behind the Green Revolution and the start of genetically modified foods.
The Green Revolution was the introduction of high yielding dwarf varieties (of corn, wheat and other large commodities) all across the globe. The problem with these strains is that the rely heavily on irrigation and chemicals, both of which costs lots of money. So, the good ol' World Bank gave out lots of loan in the poor countries to get them started with these high yielding varieties. And although a lot more mouths are maybe being fed, a lot of bad things have happened as well. Water in these countries has been destroyed from the chemical pesticides and fertilizers that run into them, leading to health problems in the humans who drink the water. Diversity has been drastically decreased and countries now rely on crops that were not even in their original diets. Also, and maybe most importantly, the poorest farmers have now been thrown out of the system, as they do not have the ability to pay for irrigation and chemicals. In essence, the film states that really, this "revolution" was an antidote to social change... it was a way to prevent the people from thinking for themselves. I'm not sure I agree entirely with that, but I sure do think it was a good way for those chemical companies to get rich. Very, very rich.
The original pesticides that were developed for use on our food were simply modified forms of nerve gas used in WWII. Who ever thought that was OK? And all of these high yielding strains required pesticides to grow properly, along with heaps of fertilizers. More money for the chemical companies. Additionally, to "efficiently" grow these high-yielding varieties, farmers started to grow monocultures. this made farming easier and it seemed to be more productive. However, according to the film, large monocultures yield only $21 per acre per year, while  small, diverse farm yields over $1,000 per acre per year. How can this be, you ask? Why would farmers switch to monocultures and make so much less? The answer is subsidies! You can make $21 per acre on your corn harvest, but the government will pay you a subsidy to grow that corn so that you can still make a profit. But do we need that corn? That un-edible corn? No, of course not. But we will feed it to animals and make corn syrup out of it so that you can keep growing your monoculture and messing up the environment. Sound like a deal?
The film also talks quite a bit about genetically modified foods (GMOs). They touch on all the big issues like safety regulation and contamination, the fact that these foods have not been tested before hitting grocery store shelves, and that these foods are not labeled so there is no traceability.
This movie, even though out-dated, is worth a watch. I am going to show it to my class next term, because it does a great job in summing up the Green Revolution and GMOs in an hour, and it is entertaining to boot. Pin It Now!

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