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Fragile Harvest

Biotechnology reduces the gene pool of the world's staple food crops.

A printer-friendly version of this page 49 minutes
Directed by Robert Lang
Produced by Kensington Communications
National Film Board of Canada

How safe is the future of the world's food? FRAGILE HARVEST explores a growing crisis in world agriculture. Plantbreeding has created today's crops, high yielding but vulnerable to disease and insects. To keep crops healthy, breeders tap all the genetic diversity of the world's food plants. But that rich resource is quickly being wiped out.

Filmed in Ethiopia, Peru, Turkey, and North America, FRAGILE HARVEST finds "development" that has driven farmers from the land, increased dependence on agrichemicals, and eliminated indigenous adapted varieties of food crops. This has dramatically reduced the world's genetic pool upon which all our food depends.

The new genetic engineering tools of plantbreeding that could promise solutions to world hunger are increasingly in the hands of multinational chemical companies that have taken over seed companies and are breeding and marketing seeds to suit their agrichemical interests.

The very future of our food depends on how we are able to conserve the world's genetic resources and re-direct the goals of today's plantbreeding.

A shorter classroom version of FRAGILE HARVEST has been reedited as SEEDS.

Grade Level: 9-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 1987     Copyright Date: 1985
DVD ISBN: 0-7722-1268-8     VHS ISBN: 0-7722-0323-7

"There is a wealth of information on a wide range of agricultural topics in this film, which is suitable for general and scientific audiences...This film does a fine job of reminding us of how important the genetic diversity of our food supplies really is and why we must protect and preserve it for future generations."
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Fragile Harvest

"How important the genetic diversity of our food supplies really is and why we must protect and preserve it for future generations." Science Books & Films

Links (The filmmaker's web site)
Study guide

Awards and Festivals
American Film Festival
AAAS Film Festival
PBS Broadcast

Food And Nutrition
Genetically Modified Foods

Related Titles

Genetic diversity in the food supply.

Risky Business
A discussion-starter on genetically engineered plants and animals.

Field of Genes
The effects of the biotechnology revolution on farmers and consumers.

Sowing for Need or Sowing for Greed?
The connection between multinational chemical companies and the foods they want us to eat.

... more Reviews

"A highly informative, compelling, and even frightening work that coincides with growing public concern and interest in world food issues."
Cinema Canada

"Excellent applications for discussion in classrooms about genetic engineering, ethics, agriculture, and social studies."
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