Kinostart
am 1.6.2017

The film opens with farmers in the USA. Here, every year, the fields are sprayed with millions of tonnes of “Roundup”, a pesticide whose main active ingredient is the chemical glyphosate. Multinational chemical companies market Roundup for use with plants which are genetically modified to be resistant to it. The idea is that farmers can apply the poison to large swathes of farmland, killing everything except their crop. But this weapon is losing its power. Nature is creating glyphosate-resistant weeds which spread at a biblical rate and grow incredibly fast – allowing them to quickly overpower and kill the crops. We meet farmers who’ve been driven to desperation. No longer able to control these “superweeds”, they have no choice but to abandon huge areas of good-quality farmland – losing their livelihoods in the process.

The film explores poisons such as Roundup and the ways in which they have seeped into our lives: although Germany is virtually GM-free, glyphosate can now be detected in all of our bodies. Using powerful images, the film explains how the large-scale application of poison is destroying soil biology, causing a global drop in soil fertility.

We contrast this destructive form of agriculture with three sustainable projects.

First, we visit AMBOOTIA, an organic tea planation in India. At an altitude of 2,000 metres and surrounded by the stunning mountain landscape of Darjeeling, we learn how sustainable agriculture is rescuing an entire region. Ecological cultivation is preventing the erosion of the plantation hillsides which, for decades, were degraded by artificial fertilisers. Ambootia’s 2,000 tea pickers not only earn more than average, but can also participate in democratically deciding the planation’s future.

The second project is SEKEM, an organic farm established 40 years ago by “Alternative Nobel” prize-winner Ibrahim Abouleish – in the middle of the Egyptian desert. Abouleish proved to the Egyptian government that his organic methods, which require no chemical sprays, achieve a higher yield than poison-based farming. Egypt now saves thousands of litres of pesticides every year, whilst also protecting its precious soil.

SEKEM has grown to become one of the world’s largest ecological businesses, and it continues to grow every year. Directly and indirectly, it now provides over 100,000 people with dignified, poison-free employment. SEKEM offers remarkable evidence of the way in which deserts can be transformed into fertile soil.

Our third example: tenacious Bavarian FRANZ AUNKOFER was one of Germany’s first organic farmers, and without doubt very first organic pig farmer. Thanks to his pioneering work, he now achieves the same yield as under conventional farming – but without using a drop of poison. He believes that farmers, not chemical giants, should profit from agriculture.

This film is intended not only to educate, but to motivate: to inspire people to think about the future of agriculture and, therefore, about the food we eat. By powerfully interweaving the narratives of poison-based and ecological agriculture, we raise numerous urgent questions. As in all of our films, we make the case for a life-affirming, healthy form of agriculture – and, what’s more, we show that it’s within our grasp.

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PROTAGONISTS


Aged 20, Ibrahim Abouleish secretly boarded a ship and left his homeland of Egypt. His goal: to study in the place where Goethe once lived.

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Franz Aunkofer is one of the pioneers of organic agriculture: since 1980, he’s farmed organically in Herrnsaal, near Kelheim in Bavaria.

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Dr Jane Goodall spent nearly 30 years researching the chimpanzees of Gombe National Park, Tanzania. In 1986, recognising the connections between wildlife conservation and environmental protection, she began to venture out of the rainforest

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Prof. Don Huber, a plant pathologist and emeritus professor at Purdue University in Indiana, spent many years as an agricultural advisor to the US government. In January 2011, he warned the US Department of Agriculture about the consequences of GM seed (such as soya or maize)

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Like almost 90 per cent of US farmers, George Jeffords grows genetically-modified crops. In the USA, just over 70 million hectares of land are used to cultivate GM soya beans, maize and cotton.

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At altitudes of up to 2,300 metres, the conditions are ideal for the cultivation of fine teas. Even so, in the 1970s, the region around Darjeeling in northern India went into decline.

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Helmy Abouleish is the son of SEKEM founder Ibrahim Abouleish. Born in Austria, where his father spent 20 years in exile, he joined his family in Egypt as a teenager. He is now married and has two grown-up daughters.

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Tucker Miller is an agricultural advisor. For a few years now, he has observed ever-increasing numbers of so-called “superweeds” appearing in fields of GM crops. As time goes on, he is finding it more and more difficult to advise farmers on how to deal with them.

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Walter started his career with an apprenticeship as a shipping agent in Bremen, northern Germany, before being swept up in the turbulence of the ‘68 student movement. After training as a social educator, Walter worked in Bremen as a carer for young people with behavioural problems.

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As co-founder of the company “Soil and More”, Tobias Bandel tirelessly promotes the importance of soil fertility. His firm builds composting systems in developing and industrialised countries alike.

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Vandana Shiva was an early opponent of India’s “green revolution”: she criticised the commercialisation of agriculture with its disease-prone monocultures and hybrid plants. Seed, once perceived as a “free public resource”, has been transformed into a commodity over which small-scale farmers no longer have any control.

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Howard Vlieger, a third-generation US farmer, didn’t start out as an enemy of GM – he was just curious. In 1998, on his farm in Maurice, Iowa, he grew both genetically-modified “Bt maize” and conventional maize as feed for his beef cattle. He was intrigued to see how his herd would respond.

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