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.
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.
Reviews and Festivals"Recommended. Toxic Tears provides a succinct overview of the serious situation of agriculture in India. Subtitled “the darker side of the Green Revolution", Toxic Tears is conveniently divided into 5 minute chapters that effectively cover the issues: Green Revolution, debt, suicide, globalization, and hope. Recommended for courses discussing bioethics, GMOs, rural life in developing countries, economic development in developing countries, or advocacy."
–Educational Media Reviews Online
"The social crisis described in the video brings to the forefront significant challenges facing farming communities in many parts of the developing world."
- Science Books and Films
"This short but powerful film depicts the environmental, social, and financial costs of the ‘Green Revolution’ that was heralded as the solution to Third World poverty and food shortage but has also imposed debt, pollution, and corporate governmentality on local people. Toxic Tears is a very useful teaching tool for getting out the message about the mixed effects of technological and corporate intervention in local lives and economies. Suitable for high school classes and for college courses, as well as general audiences."
- Anthropology Review Database
"Toxic Tears takes a hard look at the alleged perversions of the system…(and) highlights an undeniable problem…”
– Radio Netherlands Worldwide
"Toxic Tears profiles the heart-broken men and women in Punjab's villages who lost their sons to faulty farming practices.”
– The Times of India
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