Award-winning documentary features pesticide use on Kauai

LIHUE — Jeri Di Pietro hopes a documentary depicting the history and importance of seeds will inspire more people to become empowered.

“The importance of saving our seed is something we can all do at home and do in our yard,” said Di Pierto, president of Hawaii Seed. “We don’t have to all have acres and acres to be farmers. It’s amazing what we can do just in our backyard and front yard garden.”

Presented by Hawaii Seed, a non-profit that raises awareness about GMOs, the award-winning documentary “Seed: The Untold Story” will premiere on Kauai at the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center on Saturday.

Half of the proceeds will be donated to Hawaii Seed, Di Pietro said.

The film completes the trilogy from filmmakers Taggart Siegel and Jonathan Betz, creators of “Queen of the Sun: What Are The Bees Telling Us?” and “The Real Dirt of Farmer John.”

“Caught between the runaway juggernaut of industrial agriculture and the ecological, cultural and spiritual destruction in its wake, seeds offer us a profound chance to restore mutual harmony between people and planet,” said Siegel and Betz in a statement.

Making its debut in 2016, the 34-minute documentary follows seed keepers protecting a 12,000-year-old food legacy.

“This is an important film of the world. It talks about the intelligence of a seed; the importance of what biodiversity plays in our ecology,” Di Pietro said. “The larger picture is that we need to be growing enough food here to feed our island and our visitor industry and support Honolulu — places without available land and water — to grow food for themselves.”

A segment of the documentary features Kauai, she said.

“(It shows) the chemical abuse and the danger of monocropping these herbicide-resistant, transgenic plants and the large amount of pesticides sprayed near our waterways and communities and schools,” she said. “A lot of our most useable agricultural land, about 12,000 acres, are being used just for experimentation and not providing us any food at all.”

The economics of tourism would only be enhanced by being able to offer more locally-grown food, Di Pietro said.

One of things Di Pietro found heartening was the seed caretakers cherishing seeds and keeping them fresh.

“That’s why we do our GMO-free work is for the love of seed; that intelligence in the seed to know how to make a leaf and make a flower and get pollinated and create a tomato that has more seed in it,” she said.

“I do appreciate the Kauai segment … and talking about everyone in the community getting together to rally for food security and against pesticide. It really makes the film special and ensures our Kauai story is going around the world,” she added.

The audience will gain an appreciation for biodiversity, Di Pietro said.

“These chemical corporations in the 1990s bought up hundreds and hundreds of seed companies,” she said. “We lost a tremendous amount of biodiversity where there used to be maybe hundreds of variety of corn — some that were good for flour, tortillas, corn on the cob.”

“Seed: The Untold Story” will be presented at Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m. and a Q-&-A will follow the film.

Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $5 for students. They are available at and at the door.


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