This Week, Thursday September 22
Bullshit (USA/India: 2005, 73 min.)
Thursday, September 22, 2011, 7:00pm, U.C. Theater
With Vandana Shiva
Opponents gave her the Bullshit Award
Time Magazine hailed her as one of the great heroes of our time.
Vandana ShivaIn this documentary, we follow environmental activist and nuclear physicist Vandana Shiva for a period of two years, a whirlwind tour from her organic farm at the foot of the Himalayas to the summit of the World Trade Organization in Mexico to a protest outside the European Patents Office in Munich. Here, in these institutions of power, Shiva does battle with the proponents of globalization, multi-national corporations like Monsanto, an American bio-tech company manufacturing genetically modified foods (whom Shiva holds responsible for a rash of farmers’ suicides) and Coca-Cola, accused of depleting and contaminating groundwater in India.
A portrait of a tireless and fearless activist (Shiva is a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award and the United Nations’ Earth Day International Award), Bullshit also gives voice to the small farmers affected by these policies, as well as to some of her staunchest opponents, including executives from Monsanto and Coca-Cola, and especially Barun Mitra, a neo-liberal lobbyist who gave Shiva the “Bullshit Award” for espousing lies about the negative effects of globalization (upon receiving the award, Shiva mockingly retorted that “cow dung is the most beautiful of materials”).
An insightful, eye-opening, and exhilarating film, Bullshit elucidates some of the most pressing social and technological questions of the 21st century – can genetically modified foods alleviate world hunger? is it legal for corporations to patent natural crops? can indigenous knowledge inform modern genetic engineering? – as it takes you to the frontlines of the war over globalization.
Several years ago a company patented a fungicide based on the neem tree, which Indians have used for thousands of years. The Indian government sued and won. They claim that it was part of traditional Indian knowledge and they called a ton of people in support of that. I'm pretty sure I heard her name mentioned concerning this.
Now, patent offices are expected to make sure that naturally occurring substances aren't patented. Of course that doesn't prevent all forms of skullduggery. It was a big win for the organic movement in India and around the world.