SXSW FILM 2014
By Don Simpson | March 13, 2014
Director: Sandy McLeod
Thanks in no small part to the high yielding culture of industrialized agriculture, our 10,000 year history of breeding and domesticating genetically diverse plants has devolved into an extremely limited selection of crops. Take the vegetable crops in the U.S., for example, which now represent less than seven percent of the diversity that existed a century ago. Despite what the colossal conglomerates would like to have us believe, this lack of diversity in our agriculture is a very dangerous thing, especially as the world’s population continues to multiply and climate change yields devastating blows on our crops.
Enter crop diversity pioneer, Cary Fowler. Sandy McLeod’s Seeds of Time follows Fowler during his tenure as Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust. Tasked with the conservation and availability of crop diversity for food security worldwide, Fowler created the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which safely houses seeds of more than 780,000 crop varieties deep beneath a mountain of ice. During this process, Fowler helped rescue over 80,000 crop varieties from extinction. Not bad for a seven year tenure (2005 – 2012).
An unassuming yet extremely passionate man from Tennessee, Fowler is a genial fellow with presumably no political motivations. Used to dealing with factual scientific evidence, Fowler cannot comprehend the warped logic of the political world. As far as Fowler is concerned, climate change should be every human being’s primary focus. Unfortunately, that is not the reality of this world. Instead, our future is left in the hands of people like Fowler who are doing what they can to save us from mass extinction. It is a thankless job, but at least documentaries like Seeds of Time are being made to attest to their efforts.