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Taggart Siegel


Seeks to Seed an Agricultural Revolution


by April Thompson F


or more than 30 years, Taggart Siegel has produced award-win- ning fi lms on little-known


aspects of the natural and cultural world. His diverse documentaries range from the story of a Hmong shaman immigrant adjusting to Ameri- can life to a Midwestern organic farmer that salvaged his family’s farm. Siegel’s latest fi lm, Seed: The Untold


Story, follows global seed keepers from Minnesota to India battling multinational agribusinesses in a quest to protect our agricultural heritage and food sources—ancient seeds passed down through untold generations. Interviews with farmers, ethnobotanists and activists explore the importance of


the genetic material that these tiny time capsules carry. Siegel is the founder and executive


director of Collective Eye Films, a nonprofi t media company in Portland, Oregon. He co-directed and produced this latest offering with documentary fi lmmaker Jon Betz, with backing from Academy Award-winning actress Marisa Tomei.


Why does the colossal loss of food crop diversity during the


past century matter? Up to 96 percent of seed varieties have been lost since 1903. During this period, we have destroyed the infrastructure of traditional agriculture:


10,000 years of seeds saved from families and farmers. It threatens our survival. We can’t rely on genetically modifi ed seeds to see us through climate changes. We need non-ge- netically engineered seed varieties like the thousands of different types of rice grown in India to be able to adapt to extreme events like fl oods and droughts. Universal responsibility to save


seeds began to dwindle in the 1920s, when hybrid corn crops came onto the market, promising higher yields; instead of growing crops from seeds saved, borrowed or shared with neighbors, farmers bought seeds from stores. In the 1990s, huge corporations


52 NA Triangle www.natriangle.com


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