Toxic Tears looks at the little-known darker side of the “Green Revolution” in India that transformed agriculture, but has negatively impacted thousands of farmers in the country.
The Green Revolution of the mid 20th Century was aimed at greatly reducing starvation in the Third World. But the high-yielding seeds and mono-crops central to its success required heavy use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and water, with a higher cost than the traditional, more natural methods that were abandoned. While the Green Revolution did increase yields of grains and initially benefited farmers, the price paid proved very high in India, leading to heavy indebtedness, disharmony, environmental degradation, and thousands of suicides among farmers.
Toxic Tears features farmers, local merchants, and moneylenders in the Southern Punjab region who tell their stories. Two older farmers in one village describe how farming in the past was different from today, and how their sons were forced to take more loans from banks and local moneylenders. Heavily in debt, they took their lives by drinking pesticides, and were among the 25 farmers who committed suicide in recent years in their village. One villager who continued to farm organically describes how the use of pesticides is like a drug addiction, making both farmers and the land dependent upon them, and at great cost.
Dr. Vandana Shiva, noted scientist, environmentalist and winner of the Right Livelihood Award, provides additional background and commentary. She believes local moneylenders have indeed benefited, but that the main beneficiaries are the big agricultural companies who provide the seeds, pesticides and fertilizers to local middlemen, with little understanding of the impact of their decisions and products.
Running Time: 25 minutes
Grades 9 – Adult
Scene Selection• Closed Captioned
In Hindi and English with English subtitles
A Film by Tom Deiters & Hilbert Kamphuisen
Best International Short Documentary,
United Nations Association Global Wake-Up Festival, Chicago
International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam
Globians Documentary Film Festival, Germany
Document 9 Film Festival, Scotland
Eco Film Festival, Malaysia
Environmental Film Festival, Accra
UNA Global Wakeup Film Festival, Chicago