NTN24 | 26 August 2013
By Maryanne Schiffman
’970’ Asks Why Colombia is Confiscating Farmers’ Rice and Dumping it in the Garbage
BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA – In the midst of a nationwide agrarian strike, a documentary about a new law criminalizing farmers for the centuries old practice of saving the best seeds and using them for the next crop is igniting debate about the treatment of the country’s farmers.
Victoria Solano, a young Chilean woman and the documentary’s novice director, says she was overcome when she saw a video of Colombian police confiscating and destroying farmer’s rice. It pushed her to learn how to make a documentary.
The documentary explains how seed crops such as rice and coffee are being destroyed to keep farmers from using them as seeds. In interviews with the director, farmers tell of having hundreds of sacks of rice, worth US$40 each, confiscated from them only to be ripped open and thrown in the garbage.
The law, which the documentary claims was demanded by the United States for the signing of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, requires farmers to purchase certified seeds instead of using the ones they already have. The only seeds that are “legal” are those produced by certified producers who genetically modify them to accentuate certain traits.
According to the documentary, the production of patented seeds is the third most lucrative industry in the world and controls 77 percent of the world market. Of this, just three companies, Monsanto, DuPont and Sygenta control 47 percent of the market.
In Colombia, only 8 percent of all “certified” seeds come from Colombian companies.
The law was approved in 2010 and is based in intellectual property rights, treating the genetically modified seeds as such. Known as “Resolution 970,” the law gives the documentary its name.
The documentary is not yet available with English subtitles, but can be seen in Spanish for free here or at its channel in youtube.