Entertainment » Movies

Circle of Poison

by Karin McKie
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Nov 2, 2016
'Circle of Poison'
'Circle of Poison'  

In a political climate where the truth is taking an unwarranted beating, the painful, poignant film "Circle of Poison" provides a factual document about how pesticides are forced into the global environment via unchecked big pharma and lack of federal regulation.

"The environment doesn't know any boundaries," the documentary begins, so any substance that is infused in the six inches of topsoil around the globe eventually lands everywhere.

"The dust of our ancestors is around the planet," one of the several experts and activists interviewed says.

Narrated by Brit Elizabeth Kucinich, the 70-minute film, which shares a title with David Weir's co-authored 1980 book, warns that we will pay as a species for generations to come for the shortsightedness and hubris of rampant pesticide use.

U.S. regulatory agencies encourage exporting pesticides following reluctantly banning them from American soil. The top six agrichemical companies (even that portmanteau is unnatural) -- Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Bayer, Syngenta, and BASF - generate 75 percent of the global pesticide trade, exploiting regulatory loopholes. Even DDT, which was banned in the U.S. in 1972, is still exported. That nerve poison migrates on wind and water, and is distributed by heat, like a grasshopper, on all continents, including the Arctic.

This big business began during and after World War II, when toxic chemicals were created for military purposes, then moved to civilian uses. The toxins are manufactured in 23 states then globally exported for use on crops including coffee, tea and cotton as well as on fruits and vegetables. The USDA only inspects two percent of those items returning for sale in the US, meaning those imports are far less regulated than nuclear materials.

Jimmy Carter, interviewed here, was the first president to stop sales overseas using an executive order, which Reagan rescinded 33 days later as one of his first presidential acts, saying the ban put U.S. exports "at a competitive disadvantage."

Senator Patrick Leahy introduced three bills in the '90s that were quashed by lobbyists, including the EPA's Linda Fisher, who worked for toxics producers including DuPont before and after her government service. In 2012, there were 116 pesticide company lobbyists (spending $220 million federally), 112 of who were former Congress members or regulatory agency (EPA, FDA, USDA) employees.

The documentary also spans the world to show how working class and poor people have become lab rats for unchecked pesticide use. Chemicals used on Indian subcontinent cashew farms cause numerous genotoxic effects, neurological disorders including cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus. Those reported affected are just the tip of the iceberg, one interviewee notes.

The Mexican Sonoran Desert and its inhabitants is also visited, as is "Chemical Corridor," locally known as "Cancer Alley," 150 industrial facilities in historically African-American neighborhoods between New Orleans and Baton Rouge that pay no property tax. The popular lawn chemical RoundUp, the most toxic release in the U.S., is manufactured here, and Governor Jindal called Monsanto, where his wife used to work, a "model corporate citizen."

Sadly, we've made poisons "the measure of progress." This vital documentary illuminates with distressing detail this pesticide under-regulation and over-use, a "giant, terrible, tragic experiment."

For documentary screening info, or to host a community or campus screening, visit http://www.circleofpoisonfilm.com

Karin McKie is a writer, educator and activist at KarinMcKie.com

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