“Circle of Poison” Brings Awareness to Pesticide Industry

By Natalie Whalen, Staff Writer

“Circle of Poison” raises awareness to the troubling reality of the pesticide industry in the United States. The documentary, made by Nick Capezzera, Evan Mascagni and Shannon Post, premiered at the DOC NYC festival in 2015.

The film opens with a run-down of what the “circle of poison” is. David Weir, the author of the book from which “Circle of Poison” takes its title, explains the concept. Although many pesticides are banned in the United States for their detrimental effects on human health and the environment, companies are still allowed to manufacture them domestically for international export. Of course, these poisons have their ways of making their way back to us — for example, through imported food.

The film demonstrates the direct effects of these pesticides on foreign soil, taking viewers to Kasaragod, India, the Yaqui River Valley in Mexico, Ituzaingo and Chacabuco, Argentina.  We see the immediate health effects upon these populations, and it’s quite shocking.  But we also see the ways in which the people in these communities are working against the governments that support their use to create a safer future for generations to come.

“Circle of Poison” also features interviews from President Jimmy Carter, Noam Chomsky and other political and environmentalist leaders, giving audiences a deeper look into the systems that perpetrate this problem. This is the timeless tale of corporate interest seeping its way into government; agrochemical producers like Monsanto and DuPont have former Congressmen working as lobbyists, and former employees working as Congressmen.

But the documentary also provides hope for change, more sustainable organic farming practices. Countries like Bhutan in South Asia are working with environmentalists towards 100 percent organic farming practices.  People are speaking out against pesticide producing companies in worldwide demonstrations, gathering millions.

Ultimately, this film accomplishes what it sets out to do — raise awareness.  It’s not anything groundbreaking, but it adds another voice to the fight against unsustainable and fundamentally unhealthy farming practices propagated by government interest.  

The credits of the film are spliced with footage of one of the filmmakers asking the Dalai Lama about corporate interest in government that leads to damaging effects for its citizens. All you can do is raise awareness, is more or less what the Dalai Lama tells the filmmaker.

“Circle of Poison” was released on iTunes and other VOD platforms on Nov. 2, 2016.

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