Save the Children

Amos Lassen

The new documentary, “Genetically Modified Children” is the first film to examine the joint venture of Philip Morris, of tobacco fame and Monsanto in exploiting generations of poor Argentine farmers and caused disease and disability to recur in their children. Here is a film that really has something to say.

Low-income tobacco farmers face rising cancer rates with more devastating repercussions affecting their children including severe physical deformities and mental disabilities. The choice that the farmers have is no choice: poverty or poison. They have no choice but to use harmful chemicals such as glyphosate and Bayer’s Confidor, if they want to certify and sell their crops to Big Tobacco.  Patent and regulatory laws continue to favor the profits of Monsanto and chemical companies and tobacco falls into the hands and mouths of consumers worldwide in Philip Morris tobacco products.

The poisons used to harvest the tobacco crops contaminate the farmers’ blood and therefore modify the human genome thus creating genetically modified children. We see cancer and birth defect and finally a legal team based in this country has taken up the case in order to get justice for the exploited families. They admit that this is a David vs. Goliath battle, however.

Phillips & Paolicelli is one of the law firms filing class action suits on behalf of the children. They state that both Philip Morris and Monsanto bear some responsibility; Monsanto for selling the herbicide Roundup knowing its risks for harm and Philip Morris for requiring its use on the crops of these poor families.

The film is directed by Stephanie Lebrun and Jeanette Igier and they take us to Argentina (via film) to introduce us to the children who are so badly suffering. We learn that it all began in 1996 when the Argentinean government authorized the use of genetically modified organisms or GMOs and this was based on a study by Monsanto. Poverty stricken farmers, as tobacco growers, became the first to be exposed to Roundup and now more than 300 million liters are used on the soil of Argentina.

We get a look at heartbreaking stories which I will not go into here but require strong stomach to watch. Yet, perhaps when we all see what is here, we can help to begin to change something. Numerous examples are given and we learn a great deal— in fact, we are bombarded with the story and this is probably the best approach. I am deliberately cutting this review now because there is nothing that I can say that the movie does not say better and I really feel that it should be required viewing. We need to know what the film says and we need to do something about it. Yes, adults are suffering but we cannot allow children to suffer.

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