Wow. I just came back from a most incredible field trip to Montréal to see the play “Seeds“.
Now, this field trip was incredible for 2 reasons. The first is sorta silly, but this is only the second field trip that I have had with U of O, and the first one was to Mer Bleue in Kanata for first year Bio. Not so great.
The second reason it was so great was the topic matter. This is a documentary play, so every line was actually a quote, from an interview, transcript, media release or some such. This play was about a really interesting court case that was heard by the Supreme Court of Canada in January 2004, the case of Schmeiser vs Monsanto. A question of owning life, of patent laws and GM and organic foods.
It was especially interesting because in THIS documentary, unlike many popular documentaries in the recent past (such as Bowling for Columbine or Super Size Me!) the play write, Annabel Soutar, didn’t pick a side. She very fairly portrayed both sides of the case, pitting the head of Greenpeace Canada and the head of the Canadian Farmer’s Union against Dr Illimar Altosaar.
At this point I must state that Illimar is in fact the professor who organized the trip to see this play, and that I don’t think he realized how much he was in it.
But, they had a very good representation of people who were for and against the very CONCEPT of GMOs, and at the end, no side was declared right or wrong, because there is NO way that we can ever know if Schmeiser actually stole the original seeds from Monsanto. But it made us all think, and that was the point of the trip. For us to think about and discuss the roles of big business in our food, and intellectual property theft, and the way that different people remember the same situation in different ways.
After the play, we had the opportunity to informally meet with the cast and discuss the themes of the play, and we were lucky enough to have Alex Ivanovici sit with us, who played the roles of Dr. Altosaar and Schmeiser’s lawyer (among others). Because he and all the other actors played roles that supported both sides of the case, he too, had a fairly balanced view of the situation. Now, the actor brought up a really interesting comment that I found very good, because most non-scientists just don’t get these things.
Everything we eat has already been genetically modified by humans by cross-breeding, inter-breeding and out-breeding. This is obvious to me, because we breed some cows for meat and some for milk. We have MacIntosh apples, seedless grapes and wheat, which is just a really odd grass cross that we cultivated and and made the kernels bigger and bigger with each season.
It was really interesting and a wonderful opportunity, and if anyone HAPPENS to be in Montreal before Dec. 3, they should go and watch the play, and just think about it.
Oh, and if anyone DOES see the play, I have heard Dr Altosaar give the insulin speech before and my GOD was it well done!!!